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Gas prices fuel alternate choices

April 14, 2011

By Matthew Bliss, Blaise Bryant, Annie Delano, Jackie Evans, Siera Henriquez, Kayla Matteo, Charles Karam, Dana Lenseth, Nathaniel Meyers, Josh Natoli, Kelly Pfeister, Valeriya Ponomarova, Chris Surprenant, Emily Trapp, Hannah Vair, and Kyle Wilson

Two students from the University at Albany frequently ride their bikes to classes some 3.6 miles west to their uptown campus rather than pay for gas.

“It makes me feel more healthy,” said Chris Banach, who lives on Yates Street with fellow student Ben Knowles. Both are car owners, but they limit how much they use their cars, particularly Banach, who drives an SUV.

“I try to walk as much as I can,” said Knowles. The roommates may be among a growing contingent of people finding

Current gas prices at Mobil gas station in Pine Hills (Photo by Jaclyn Evans)

alternative ways to get around. As gas prices at the neighborhood Mobil station hit $3.99 a gallon this week, residents shared their views on how they choose to get around and why.

Another student from the University at Albany has a car, but doesn’t use it – she takes the bus almost everywhere.

Shaquana Hicks, 21, takes the bus instead because of the price of gas. She also parks on city streets instead of on the uptown Albany campus so she doesn’t have to pay for parking at school.

Another city resident, Bob Umholtz of New Scotland Avenue, shops frequently at the Madison Avenue Price Chopper and makes use of the gas savings from his Advantage Card.  By using the card at the grocery store, he gets money off his gas purchases. He saved 70 cents a gallon on gas recently. That discount, combined with the use of his Toyota Avalon – which gets 30 miles per gallon highway mileage, and 20 miles in the city – helps him cut costs. He also tries to combine trips when he uses his car.

“It reminds me of a couple of years ago,” said Marganick Bien- Aiam, “There’s not much we can do. It’s unfortunate.”

On the CDTA Thursday, riders told The Pine Hills blog why they use public transportation.

Marganick Bien-Aiam thinks that the gas prices today seem to mirror those of the gas crisis of a few years ago.

The bus is easy to use, said Greg McShea, 20, and even though he will have a car next semester, he still plans to use the bus.

“I cannot afford a car,” said Casey Homovich, who rides the bus to the University campus from near his Ontario Street apartment.

The escalating prices have changed one student’s behaviors pretty drastically. “It’s ridiculous. I don’t drive anymore because of it,” said Amber Bagley. “I used to visit friends back home often, but I can’t do it anymore.”

At the bus stop on Western Avenue and Partridge Street, Boyoung Kim, a South Korean  exchange student at Albany  waited for the bus Thursday.   Kim doesn’t use a car and doesn’t see the need for one. She said the price of gas is just as high in Korea as here in the United States.

Paul Bickel, proprietor at Paul’s Garage on Ontario Street, said his customers are getting more tune-ups, including oil and

Shuang Liang sees no reason for getting a car

filter changes. Still, many customers still drive gas guzzlers, while others are switching to hybrids.

One customer, Bickel said, has a Toyota Highlander V6 and a Highlander hybrid. He said that individual is returning the hybrid because the V6 gets better mileage. He doesn’t work on diesels or hybrids, he just inspects them

“It’s unfortunate, and a little bit frightening,” said Tom Genovese.  “It makes me wonder if it’s the beginning of the ‘big decline.’ Hopefully the cities will benefit though.” -30-


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