Petrol Prices making limo hire expensive..

With prom season in full swing and gas prices rising by the day, can the prom-going kid still hire a limousine? Sure, but the kid’s going to pay a bit more and oddly enough, is likely to rent something bigger than he/she might have rented when petrol prices were lower.

“There’s power in numbers,” said Richard Oliveira, owner of Princess Limousine, 70 Weybosset Street, Fall River.

What Oliveira means is that his 20-passenger Cadillac Escalade stretch limo is getting a lot of play at $1,195 for seven hours plus tip.

“The bigger the car, the more people they have to split the cost,” he said. Of course, prom-bound kids don’t have to go for the $1,195 ride. Just $550 plus a tip for the driver gets you the eight-passenger limo.

“Petrol prices are a major factor,” Oliveira said of the limo business in 2008.

“What we’ve done is we have had to add a surcharge,” he said.

Oliveira said his surcharge is pegged to gas prices.

“If the price of gas goes over $3.49 a gallon, there’s a $20 surcharge,” he said.

“I don’t know if gas will be $5 or $6 a gallon by next summer,” he said.

Fall River’s Town Car Travel is going the surcharge route, too.

“You have to raise prices whenever the costs of operating your business go up,” said Town Car’s Steve Higginbottom. “We have had to implement a surcharge. Right now, it’s 5 percent,”

Higginbottom said that prom season isn’t hurting, whatever the price of gas.

“Prom season is going great,” he said. “I can’t complain. It’s not what it was in the 90s, but I can’t complain.”

Prom season represents a highly specialized market, Higginbottom said.

“Gas prices don’t affect prom like they do point-to-point trips, the airports or any other event,”

Higginbottom said. “Most people are shopping for a specific vehicle,” Higginbottom said of prom. “People are willing to pay.”

The 5 percent surcharge to cover gas prices is what George Sousa uses at B&L Limousine, 132 Davis St., Fall River.

“Proms are so expensive that we don’t have a gas charge for prom,” Sousa said.
When Sousa says “expensive” he’s probably thinking of his 18-passenger Hummer, a vehicle that gets about four miles per gallon and can be rented for $1,800 on a prom night.

“That’s an eight or nine hour event,” Sousa said.

“You’ve really got a small window to make money with these big cars,” Sousa said. “Wedding and prom season.”

Sousa said he’s got no complaints about prom season.

“Prom season is good,” he said. “What we’re really seeing is a change in the nights out.”

Sousa said higher limo prices mean that, rather than fore-go your planned night at Mohegan Sun with the guys, many people will choose to do their own driving.

“Weddings and proms are still going to happen because it’s a one time thing,” Sousa said.

“With prom, you’re really dealing with an age group that hasn’t hit reality,” Sousa said.

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