Gasoline Prices Impacting Transportation Service

Guest Blog Post: Steve Maricque, Executive Director, American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter

The steady increase in gasoline prices has impacted the lives of many in our community.  This impact is no different on our Transportation service here at the American Red Cross. Our service provides rides to medical appointments, the grocery store or employment for individuals over 60 or with a disability to enable those individuals to maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle.

Typically in a month, we will spend $8,000 on gasoline.  The increased gasoline price has raised that expense 25% to now $10,000 a month.  The Transportation service is primarily funded through state funds that are passed down to the local level and managed through Brown County via the Aging and Disability Resource Center.  This is where the majority of funds are provided to support the service.  Additional funding is provided by the United Way of Brown County, individual donors and a minimal rider fee. 

This overall funding and our investment several years ago in an automated transportation scheduling and routing software and staffing changes has enabled us to manage the increasing cost of gasoline and maintain our fee of $2.00 a ride at this time.

It has been almost 5 years since we last raised our rider fee 50 cents to its current level.  We understand the need to maintain a low cost transportation option for those on fixed incomes.  If gasoline prices continue to rise, we will engage our current funding partners to request additional assistance along with asking for help from our community donors.

We will continue to do everything we can to maintain our service at its current fee level to meet the transportation needs of our clients. 

Your support and help is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Steven J. Maricque

Gas prices affect GB ride program

WFRV News:  Click HERE to see video of story. Story Created: Mar 1, 2011 at 9:08 PM CST

http://www.wfrv.com/v/?i=117211693

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Gas prices are taking a toll on local businesses and non-profits, reporter Heather Sawaski investigates how a local Red Cross program is coping with the rising costs.

More than 5 years after heart surgery, 80-year-old Dorothy Hovde is taking advantage of the Red Cross Transportation Program to get to to her exercise class at St. Mary’s Hospital.

“It’s convenient for me, I don’t drive and my children and grandchildren that do drive are at work at this time of the day,” Hovde said.

For $2 a trip, the elderly and people with disabilities in the Green Bay area can get rides to and from medical appointments and work, but the climbing gas prices are proving to be more than just a bump in the road.

“Typically we spend about $8,000 a month on gasoline, so we’ve seen a 25 percent increase, we’re now in the $10,000 range,” said Steve Maricque, Red Cross Executive Director, Lakeland Chapter.

The program is funded by state grants and local donors, and gives rides to more than 5,500 people a month. Rising costs have already forced the Red Cross to put a similar program in Door County on hold. There have also been staffing and scheduling cuts to save money.

“We’re able to, so far, manage with the increase in gas prices,” said Maricque. “But if they continue to rise, we’d have to look at other measures in terms of what we would need to do.”

The organization is looking into increasing fares as a last resort, because most of the riders are on fixed incomes, but doesn’t want to leave people like Dorothy Hovde stranded.

The last time the Red Cross had to raise prices was five years ago. Prices went up 50 cents.

Heather Sawaski reports.

Green Bay area businesses cope with raising gas costs

By Caroline Rowland, WFRV News, created Jan 6, 2011,  Click HERE for link to video.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — In Green Bay, gas prices are slightly above the national average at $3.14 per gallon, and the steady rise is talking it’s toll on local businesses.

At Schroeder’s Flowers, the delivery drivers are always on the go. “Its 75 to 150 deliveries on a typical day. The most I’ve ever done in one day was 1,575,” said owner Charles Schroeder.

The company spends between $4,000 and $15,000 dollars a month on gas. When gas prices goes up the store eats the extra costs.

U & I Movers had to add a fuel surcharge to it’s moving costs that ranges between five and 10 percent.

“When you add that to a cost of a move, it’s almost a couple hundred dollars you have to add on to the move,” said owner Scott Isable.

The fuel surcharge is higher now than two years ago, when gas was $4 a gallon, because business was better back then.

“You, a lot of times, eat a big share of the fuel surcharge,” Isable said.

Non profits are some of the hardest hit businesses, especially organizations like The Red Cross who have a fleet of cars that are always on the road.

“Every time that gas goes up, that expense increases for us,” said Steven Maricque, Executive Directer of the Red Cross Lakeland Chapter.

The Lakeland Red Cross Chapter spends $100,000 annually on gas. If gas stays below $3.50 per gallon it’s budget will be fine. But Maricque says things will change if the price continues to rise.

“Then we’re going to have to make some drastic changes as to how we support the program,” Maricque said.

Schroeder’s is also looking to the future and may get away from gas run vehicles.

“I think that’s probably the answer, have more efficient vehicles,” Schroeder said. For now, the flower shop will deal with the extra costs as best as it can.

The rising gas prices are showing no sign of slowing down. Some analysts project the price could reach $3.75 a gallon by spring.