High gas prices curb local cab drivers' profits

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The temperature is rising...and so are the gas prices.

The cost of filling up has jumped nearly 20 cents over the last two weeks.

And there's no relief as we head into summer.

The Energy Department released estimates today that the average this summer will be $2.62 a gallon--25 cents higher than last year.

AAA puts today's nationwide price average at $2.68 a gallon; $2.60 is the average in our area.

Gas Price Outlook
Summer 2006: $2.62
Summer 2005: $2.37

Current Averages: (AAA)
Nationwide: $2.68
Augusta: $2.60

Local cab drivers say high gas prices are cutting into their profits and making it hard for them to operate.

Bryan Hyman of Radio Cab has been driving cabs on and off for about 20 years.

For him there is no way around the gas prices; he has to fill his tank everyday.

"Definitely I think they are too high," Hyman says.

Ronald Parker says his 12 hour days are sometimes extended to 16 hours just to help make ends meet.

Each time he tops off his tank, it's $40.

"You have to fill up from once or twice a day sometimes," he says.

Since gas prices are expected to rise even more, cab drivers say it's only going to make it harder to make ends meet. Some of them will have to give up the job altogether.

"It makes it hard to make a profit and it keeps you out here a little longer," Parker says.

"I just work a few extra hours to try and make up the money," says Hyman.

And $80 a day, five days a week can be expensive.

Some cab drivers are hoping that city commissioners will help them out with a rate increase.

"Each time the gas goes up, the cost comes to us," Parker says.

"I know the customers won't like it or approve of it, but I think if it goes as much higher as it is now they should consider it," Hyman says.

Putting in longer hours and less time with the family may be the only solution to help cab drivers like Ronald Parker and Bryan Hyman make a profit.

Some analysts say a $3 per gallon gas price is possible this summer if there are any unusual disruptions.

Prices spiked last year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.