Price for regular gas hits $4.45, many drivers using other methods to get around

Published: Apr. 13, 2011 at 8:38 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 13, 2011 at 9:58 PM HST
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Some people are riding bicycles to save on gas.
Some people are riding bicycles to save on gas.
Athena Keehu with Vanpool Hawaii.
Athena Keehu with Vanpool Hawaii.
Gas prices.
Gas prices.

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The statewide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is now $4.45. That's just a nickel less than Hawaii's all-time high, since AAA started monitoring gas prices.

What are drivers doing about it? More and more are turning to alternative modes of transportation.

Yukio Yukawa is helping a customer select a new part for his bicycle. He and the rest of the staff at McCully Bicycle have seen a 15% jump in new bike sales since the start of this year.

"Some people have been buying it for work and some just to run errands and things like that, but they wanted to save money on their gas bills," Yukawa said.

The shop has also experienced a 35% spike in bike repairs, as cash-strapped car owners dust off their old bicycles and get them ready for the road.

"You folks are expecting that to rise?" this reporter asked.

"I think so and I hope so," Yukawa said while laughing.

Nearby at Motosource Hawaii, workers are facing the challenge of keeping up with the renewed demand for mopeds. As gas prices go up...

"We get ready for the rush," Jerry Robinson, Motosource Hawaii, said. "I tell you, we'll get maybe 35 or 40 bikes in here at a crack. Within a matter of maybe two or three weeks, they're gone."

It was $4.35 for a gallon of regular unleaded at one gas station on Ward Avenue Wednesday. Robinson says $4.35 would nearly fill the tank on a moped.

"Depending on how much you run, if you're running it every day back and forth to work, and that's all you do with it, that'll last you a good solid week," he said.

Some prefer to stay on four wheels and are saving money by carpooling. Workers at Vanpool Hawaii say calls to their call center have doubled, perhaps even tripled, and the reason for the interest is clear.

"Previous to the gas prices was they saw a van, they were interested, maybe they were interested for environmental reasons," Athena Keehu, Vanpool Hawaii, said. "But the majority of the calls now are people who are, they just tell us I can't afford to drive by myself anymore."

Vanpool Hawaii currently has 323 vehicles in service. As many as 50 groups are on the wait list.

"At $4.00 a gallon, I'd rather split that with seven people than take the big bite by myself," Keehu said.

Oahu Transit Services, which operates TheBus, says it has seen an increase in bus pass sales, but won't have final numbers until the end of the month.

OTS is also feeling the gas pinch. The company says its buses use 7 million gallons of gas each year.

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