Alternative Travel Plans

May 5, 2008 8:20:47 PM PDT
Whether it's taking Amtrak, or unloading their gas guzzling SUVs, a lot of people are now scrambling to find ways to save money.When the 11:35 a.m. rolls into Fresno, more people are waiting for the train. Amtrak says ridership is way up. The latest figures show a nearly 27-percent spike in passengers along the San Joaquin Line in the past year. This train stops in Bakersfield. Still, those busing the rest of the way to L.A. say with gas prices soaring, they may not be saving time, but they are saving money. Amtrak passenger Melissa Panoo said: "I'd say 50 dollars at least 50 dollars because it would probably cost 50 dollars to fill it up, and a round trip ticket cost around 55 dollars. Amtrak passenger Joyce Rogers said: "Because gas the way it is now I'd probably get between Bakersfield and L.A. and have to call it a day." Others like Jeannie and John Summers are their SUV's in the garage and headed to valley dealerships looking for a way out. Jeannie Summers said: "We're thinking about the hybrid because the price of gasoline it's going up so high." The Summers aren't alone. Nationwide some "used" car dealers have stopped taking SUV's as trade-ins because there's a glut.

Compared to March of last year used SUV sales were down 14-percent. With gas prices approaching record highs, sales of new SUV'S took an even bigger hit across the country. Both Ford and GM are reporting a double digit drop in sales last month compared to a year ago. But with Ford offering big incentives and 0 percent financing on new SUV's, the general sales manager at a Clovis dealership says his sales did not take a major hit. He also says locally there's still a market for trade-ins. General Sales Manager Frank Mendiola said: "The values on trade-ins are consistent right now. You have folks that can't afford the brand new one, so we like to keep as many trade-ins as we can and recondition them and get them back on that front line."

For those who choose to take the bus instead, FAX says don't expect a whole lot of company. Tough economic times spell slower times for city transit. FAX Planning Manager John Downs said: "Most of our riders are wage earning people so when jobs are cut, they're usually the first to go." At this point, the experts say it's to tell if buyers will go back to their SUV'S once the initial shock at the pump has worn off, and the economy improves. Laurie Penco ABC 30 Action News.


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