Pain Inflicted by High Gas Prices Continues

Posted on July 20, 2005 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

ASBURY PARK, N.J. – With gasoline prices at $2.12 per gallon in Monmouth and Ocean counties, taxi and limousine companies are walking a fine line as they try to hold onto their customers – and their profits.

"It is a nightmare," said Michael Renehan, owner of Allaire Limousines in Farmingdale, N.J. "It's up again today. There is no stopping it."

For the past couple of months, Renehan has added a surcharge of $3 per trip to help cover the increased costs. The amount is adjusted depending on the destination. Allaire's monthly fuel costs have risen from about $14,000 to $18,000.

"For the most part, the customers understand the situation we are in," Renehan said. "They buy fuel . . . on the road. They know what the situation is."

In Monmouth and Ocean counties, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.99 a month ago and $1.93 a year ago, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Taxi drivers have a hard time coping with rising gasoline prices. Taxi fares are generally set by municipal governments, so drivers usually can't automatically charge more as their costs go up.

Harold Morgan, director of education for the National Taxicab Limousine and Paratransit Association, an industry group, said customers tend to choose cheaper forms of transportation for what he called discretionary trips, nights out on the town or going to a ball game, but not for milestone events.

With limousine companies coming off a "pretty good prom season," Morgan predicted wedding reservations will boom as usual during the summer because they are one-time expenses booked far in advance.

Adena Whitaker, a manager with Five Star Events in Washington, D.C., said many of the limousine services she works with have raised their rates recently, but that hasn't discouraged limousine use, especially for wedding parties.

"It doesn't really matter to customers what it costs," Whitaker said. "They want to have a nice night, where they don't have to be worried about being focused on the road or worry about drunk driving."

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