June 26, 2008


Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — When $4-per-gallon gasoline started sucking wallets dry across Billings earlier this spring, Jodi Robinson knew it was time to do something. And she would be willing to do it sitting down.


Now she hopes others will sit with her… in a carpool.


Jodi RobinsonRobinson, who works as a medical secretary at MSU Billings Student Health Services, drives about 12 miles a day from her Billings Heights home to the university’s main campus and back. Once fuel prices cleared the $4 mark on its continual northward climb, she said she tried to find alternative transportation, but was unsuccessful.


“The bus schedule just doesn’t work for me,” she said. “I’d have to be at the bus stop at 6 a.m. Then I’d have to be down the street at 4:55 p.m. That makes it tough when you don’t get off of work until 5.”


Each day, she said, she sees a number of single-passenger vehicles taking the same from Main Street into the Downtown Billings area. Not knowing if any of them were headed in her direction, Robinson started making inquiries about carpools.


“With the gas prices the way they are, it would seem that it would be a good deal for people,” she said.


According to AAA reports, Thursday’s average price per gallon of regular unleaded fuel was $4.07, with premium at $4.45.


According to her calculations — based on a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon in city driving — it would cost about $50 a month at current gasoline prices to drive the 12 miles roundtrip, which is about 240 miles a month. If a four-person carpool splits the driving, the cost drops to about $12.50 a month and the overall annual savings would be roughly $450.


Robinson is gathering information from any MSU Billings main campus employee who lives in the Heights who would be willing to take part in a carpool. Summer hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the regular academic year schedule — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — starts in late August.


Robinson said she would be willing to coordinate driving schedules and realizes carpooling may not work for everyone. But if it helps a little, it’s worth the effort, she said.


She also said she is open to the idea of working with those who work in the nearby medical corridor.


Anyone who is interested should contact Robinson via e-mail at jlrobinson@msubillings.edu.