Fuel prices have effect on area bus lines

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor



SPRINGFIELD With the increase in gas and diesel prices, one might expect fare or route changes at the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) and Peter Pan Bus Lines. However, neither business has any plans to increase costs to consumers or alter schedules to make up for the price of fuel.

Robert Schwarz, executive vice president of Peter Pan, told Reminder Publications that this year's steadily increasing gasoline prices have had a dramatic increase in the number of people electing to use a bus.

Schwarz said the cost of diesel fuel has gone up as much as three times over the cost of two years ago, but that increase had been offset by a "tremendous increase in ridership."

From May through the end of August, Schwarz said that the company's Boston to New York City route saw a 33 percent increase; from New York City to Philadelphia went up 31 percent; and New York City to Washington, D.C., the increase was 13 percent.

The Labor Day statistics also reflect higher use. Comparing this Labor Day weekend to the holiday period in 2003, the New York City to Washington, D.C., route was up 48 percent; New York City to Philadelphia had increased 35 percent; and the company's Boston to New York City route had grown a whopping 87 percent.

Schwarz has spoken to many riders and said that many people have realized, that with the high cost of gasoline, it's more effective to take a bus. The New York City to Washington, D.C., route costs $20 one-way and Schwarz said that with fuel, tolls and parking costs, it's a less expensive way to travel.

Schwarz believes the company's pricing is serving them well at this time and there is no planned price surcharge.

He did say that if the price of fuel escalates, the company might have to think about a ticket increase at that time.

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The leadership of the PVTA does not anticipate cutting any service to the thousands of people who use the second largest regional transit system in Massachusetts as a primary way of transportation, but will be petitioning the Legislature for additional funding.

PVTA Administrator Gary Shepard said all of the regional transit authorities (RTA) around the Commonwealth "are all in the same boat." The Legislature does not "forward fund" any of the RTAs and they must seek reimbursement from the State House after the fiscal year.

The price in fuel will cause an estimated $1.2 million deficit, Shepard said. The cost of running the vans servicing seniors have contributed much to that deficit.

Shepard said the RTAs will ask for more funding in the Legislature's supplemental budget.

And Shepard noted that the deficits were growing before the destruction to the petroleum industry caused by Hurricane Katrina.

 
 
Reminder Publications, Inc. 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028 • Tel: 413.525.6661 • Fax 413.525.5882

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