The airline, train and automobile industries have been hit hard by rising costs in the aftermath of September’s hurricanes, leaving AU students in search of alternative transportation for traveling over fall break, which begins later this week.
Northwest and Delta are the most recent airline victims of the spiking cost of travel; both announced their bankruptcy last month. Analysts expect low-cost airlines like Independence Air and Southwest Airlines, which many students depend on for affordable travel to be the next target as the cost for jet fuel skyrockets. Dulles-based Independence Air is expected to file bankruptcy soon, according to the Washington Post.
Some airlines have responded to the rising costs by tacking on an additional $10 round trip, and may increase them by another $15 to $30, USA Today reported last month.
Joanna Blatchly, a freshman in the School of International Service, flew home last weekend but will be taking a bus back for fall break. Her flight cost her $210 on Independence Air, but the airline is ending flights to her small New York hometown airport at the end of this month, she said.
“They were the only airline at the time that flies to my airport [from Dulles]...they are [also] stopping flights to a few other destinations,” Blatchly said. “Gas is too expensive, that’s what they said.”
Blatchly will be traveling on Vamoose Bus Lines for fall break for about $40 round trip from Tenleytown - the same amount it would cost her for a round trip shuttle to Dulles, or the price in gas it would cost her to drive home herself.
Amtrak is also among the transportation companies that are preparing themselves for the rise in fuel prices, as D.C.-area motorists continue to have to pay gas prices upwards of $3 a gallon.
Today, Amtrak is increasing fares across the board by $3 or $4, said Tracey Connell, a spokeswoman for the rail service. Amtrak is raising the cost of monthly passes in the Northeast for the first time in years, she said.
The jump in prices is due to increasing energy and operating costs, but this hike in regular fare prices is standard and consumers should not expect the cost to rise anymore for the rest of the year, Connell said.
The cost of a round trip Amtrak train ticket from Union Station in D.C. to Penn Station in New York City is about $160, leaving many AU students with few alternatives.
“There shouldn’t be any reason [for the high prices]. Bathrooms aren’t clean, they charge you for the food and sometimes you don’t even get a seat,” said Brittany Walsh, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences who has had to take the train several times. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Stacia Yearwood, a sophomore in CAS, is left with no option but to stay back for fall break. An average five-hour flight to her home in Trinidad costs her about $900.
Yearwood still enjoys flying home, and she used to work for an airline. But without her employee discounts, flying home often has become too expensive, she said.
“I’m worried sometimes. I want to go home but I can’t,” she said. “I think it may be the oil prices…it used to be between $600 [and] $700.”