AZ Gas Crisis: Innovative Operator Rises to the Challenge

Posted on August 21, 2003 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

PHOENIX – A severe shortage of gasoline in Arizona in mid- August did not stop one innovative operator from finding a way to keep his vehicles rolling.

Jason Kaplan, president of The Driver Provider, said he sent drivers and their cars to wait in gas lines. “We pay people to do that specifically.”

Describing the situation as “pretty nuts,” he said there were often 45 or more vehicles waiting to fuel up with $2.25-a-gallon gas in his area of Phoenix.

“And when the stations are closed, people will start lining up, waiting for the tanker to pull in,” he added.

Luckily for the 91-car operator, his company is across the street from a gas station so he sees when the tankers pull in. “We just send a bunch of people over there to fuel up,” he said.

The gas crisis that affected most parts of Arizona was caused by a July 30 rupture in the pipeline that runs from Tucson to Phoenix and provides a third of Phoenix’s gas.

Everything was expected to be back to normal in a few days, according to Kaplan and local reports.

In the meantime, operators like him were forced to deal with the lines – and fuel prices that rose up $3 to $4 per gallon in some areas.

On a positive note, Kaplan said, “In Arizona, summer time is a very slow time for transportation. If it had to happen, we are fortunate it happened during one of our slowest months of the year.

“And, quite honestly, I think the scares of 9/11 makes tragedies like this less dramatic,” he added. “That was such a chocking experience that anything that isn’t to that degree is easy to deal with.”

Another Phoenix operator, Steve Cunningham, president of Carey Phoenix, said his operation wasn’t that affected by the shortage. He has used a fuel facility that’s not open to the public for several years and has not had to rely on regular gas stations.

“You have to have an account there and a fuel card,” he said. In addition, most of his cars use diesel fuel.

The biggest problem was that his employees couldn’t find gas for their personal cars. “So we actually allowed our employees to use our card to get gas in their regular cars just so they could get to and from work,” he said.

Cunningham, who also owns the Las Vegas limousine company Fox Limousines, noted that the consequences of the Arizona gas crisis were felt outside the state as well.

“They are trying to truck it in from everywhere else so the price in Las Vegas spiked significantly even though there was no shortage there,” he said.

- Rebecca Christiansen

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