Phoenix to Snowbowl shuttle service worries gas prices could affect business costs

An Arizona shuttle service that takes people from Phoenix to Snowbowl is feeling the impact of high gas prices.
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 5:24 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Phoenix’s gas prices rose 23 cents in the last week, averaging $4.12 a gallon. Arizona’s most expensive gas station was about $5.50 a gallon Monday.

For one Valley business owner, his company runs on fuel. Alpine Express is a shuttle service, taking folks from Phoenix to Snowbowl in Flagstaff. “When you’re on a mountain, you’re not thinking about COVID or Russia or any other concerns,” said Craig Frooninckx, one of the owners at Alpine Express.

However, there’s one concern he can’t forget. “The gas prices are probably what’s keeping me up at night,” said Frooninckx. “My biggest concern is how is that going to impact my business? How is that going to impact my customers?”

Alpine Express shuttles people to Flagstaff on buses it rents from Arrow Stage Lines from November to May. The cost to charter a bus keeps going up. “The driver shortage this year, and next year we anticipate the gas costs is going to affect our costs,” said Frooninckx.

“It’s unfortunate, really,” said Luke Busskohl, President, and CEO of Arrow Stage Lines. “I think they’re at a place right now that aren’t sustainable long-term. We’d love to see those go down.”

The buses take diesel fuel. AAA numbers show you paid about $3.00/gallon for diesel in Phoenix one year ago. Monday, the average price of diesel hit $4.51/gallon. “Shocking, I mean it’s expected,” said Frooninckx. “The inflation was going to be a problem. We knew that, but now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s kind of affecting that. Everything just kind of comes into play. It’s affecting us in lots of ways.”

Right now, $40 gets you a ride on The Alpine Express, but the rising cost of gas has a trickle-down effect. That cost will be passed on to The Alpine Express and then the people getting shuttled up to Flagstaff. Frooninckx worries he may need to charge customers an extra $10 for a ride next year, and it’s something no one is happy about.

“It’s frustrating,” said Frooninckx. “I feel more for my customers because I’m trying to give them an opportunity to get away for the day. If the prices keep going up, it’s going to make it hard for them to be able to afford that day away.”

It’s not all bad news. As gas gets more expensive, the shuttle service notices more customers are filling the seats on The Alpine Express. In some cases, it’s cheaper to pay for a ride than filling your tank with gas and driving yourself.