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High gas prices being felt by businesses that need it in the Portland metro area

Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 4:56 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Gas prices well over $5 a gallon are not uncommon in the Portland area.

But for those businesses that run on gas, they’re really taking a hit to their way of making a living and they’re thinking about what it will mean in the future.

Radio Cab driver Barry Pinkley said he enjoys the work he does. He has been a Radio Cab driver for over 10 years. He’s seen the city grow and has seen countless people come in and out of his cab. But recently, he’s noticed something has changed.

“There’s just been a very huge, dramatic change in what we were doing two years ago and what we’re doing now,” Pinkley said. “It’s so obvious that the costs of living are going up.”

One of the toughest cost increases is gas. As an employee-owned business, that expense is up to the driver at Radio Cab. In a business centered on driving, it means more coming out of drivers’ pockets.

“Two years ago, I was paying $35 a week for gasoline,” Pinkley said. “Last year, I paid about $60-$65 a week. This year, it’s over $100 a week.”

The higher gas prices just prompted the board of Radio Cab to add a $1 surcharge to all trips.

More drivers like Pinkley are facing tougher times too.

“I’m of retirement age,” he said. “I should be slowing down but I’m not.”

But as a board member himself, Pinkley said he is resistant to passing on higher costs to the customer.

“Know that this is just a temporary economic downturn,” he said. “Let’s just weather through it. Keep our account base, keep providing the best service we can provide.”

Over in the Gorge, Sasquatch Shuttle is also feeling the increased cost of gas.

“Fuel costs have almost doubled since last year,” co-owner Kent Krumpschmidt said. “We’re significantly higher and it’s just eating into our margins and our capital.”

Sasquatch Shuttle offers trips to the waterfalls in the Gorge and gives customers a safe place to park. Krumpschmidt said he started it so people could more easily enjoy the area.

“My business partner and myself, we lived out here, we experienced the Gorge, we know what it has to offer, we love it,” he said. “We don’t love the traffic. We don’t love the crowds.”

But costs have been so high, it has prevented Sasquatch Shuttle from making improvements it was planning on this year. Krumpschmidt said this is in an effort to avoid reducing service or raising prices.

Pinkley said he will continue driving for now because of the uncertainty of the expenses he may face in the future.

“Not knowing what my costs will be next week, next month, next year,” he said. “Absolutely, I’ve got to spend as much time behind the wheel as possible.”

Pinkley said he has changed his hours to now work over 11 a day when the maximum in Portland is 12 hours a day just to make the money he needs with rising gas prices.