Gas price hikes spur changes

By Melissa Lomenzo

Gas prices are expected to continue rising this year and could
peak at about a $3.50 per gallon in May before any long-term
decreases will be seen, according to the Short-Term Energy Outlook
report.

More students are ridesharing because of high pump prices.
Student carpools at Cal Poly increased about 10 percent in 2006-07
from 55,169 in the previous fiscal year to 60,851, according to the
Parking and Transportation Services Web site.

“I ride my bike more to campus and I carpool a lot more,” said
Dustin Ray, a graduate biology student.

Many students try to arrange their class schedules to decrease
the amount of commuting.

“I’m commuting here with a friend from San Bernardino … that’s
just to help out each other,” said Chris Bland, a first-year civil
engineering student. “It’s a little bit of a drive, so I try to
keep my classes all on Tuesdays and Thursdays here.”

Regular unleaded gasoline prices in the West Coast states are
forecasted to average $3.32 per gallon this year and $3.21 in 2009,
according to the STEO report. The report, released by the Energy
Information Administration, showed an 11.9 percent increase in U.S.
average gas prices from 2006-07.

Decreased demand of gasoline and increased surplus are leading
to slightly lower gas prices, but average gas prices are still much
higher than three years ago when gas prices were less than $2 per
gallon, according to a study by the Congressional Budget
Office.

Higher gas prices can lead to inflation.

“[Gasoline is] a basic commodity, so it’s an input for lots of
goods and services,” said Greg Hunter, an economics professor. “[A
rise in gas prices will] increase the cost of goods and services.
So, it creates inflationary pressure in the economy. High gas
prices make it more likely that the economy will move toward
recession.”

Because Cal Poly is a commuter campus, many students could be
victims to price increases.

“Students and those types of people, particularly ones at a
commuter campus like ours … are probably going to suffer
disproportionately from high gas prices,” Hunter said.

Gas prices are shrinking students’ disposable incomes.

“Consumers have less disposable income because it’s getting
sucked up into higher gas prices and other goods and services are
becoming more expensive,” Hunter said.

Cutting back on expenses other than transportation is necessary
for some students because most of the commuting they do is to work
and school.

“It adds up [to] a lot of money each month … money you could
be spending for other things,” said Gina Jennings, a fourth-year
English student. “I just decide not to go out shopping as much [and
buy] stuff that’s unnecessary.”

The West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices, which account for
about half the cost of retail gasoline, are estimated to average
$87 per barrel this year, which is about $15 more per barrel than
last year, according to the EIA report.

“I’m kind of concerned that the continuing trend is going to
cause a lot of problems in the future,” said Chris Waters, a
fourth-year biology student. “[I’m] going to have to trim back on
spending … go out less [and] try to find cheaper alternatives to
things I buy.”

Some students, however, are not bothered by rising gas
prices.

“I don’t think they affect me very much,” said Amanda Spikerman,
a fourth-year animal science student. “I have a very small
car.”

Gas price hikes spur changes

Photo Illustration by Lucio Villa

Gas price hikes spur changes

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