Erin Crouch's baby-sitting money doesn't go as far as it used to.
The 16-year-old Alleluia Community School student doesn't have a car, so she depends on friends for rides around town. With gasoline prices soaring, she doesn't mind giving her friends a few dollars in return for a ride.
"They don't ask for it, but I volunteer because I know how much it costs," Erin said Saturday night while hanging out with friends in the Books-A-Million parking lot off Washington Road.
But compensating her friends for lifts has cut into her shopping and entertainment budget, she admitted.
Erin isn't the only teenager feeling a burn in the pocketbook.
High gasoline prices are forcing teens to save money they normally would spend on fun things, such as movie tickets and hamburgers, to fuel their cars.
"I got no money to go out to eat," said Angie Shelton, 19, a 2003 Lakeside High School graduate, who was found chatting with best friend Darnita Dennis, 18, at Sonic Drive-In on Washington Road Saturday. "I gotta fill up on gas."
"We don't go places like we used to," Ms. Dennis added, sitting on the hood of Ms. Shelton's 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier.
Gone are the days of cruising down Broad Street or Washington Road in search of something to do. Instead, friends are gathering at a location and staying there. Or they're headed someplace close by, Erin said.
Increasing fuel expenses are also requiring that teens find alternate modes of transportation.
Porche Jones, a 10th-grader at Butler High School, rides the bus to school now instead of getting a ride from friends or driving herself.
"I don't even drive my car anymore," she said, explaining that her Honda Civic is permanently parked on the side of the street.
Brooke Schnitzler, 16, a Harlem High School student, didn't have a choice about riding the bus. It was her parents' decision.
"They just said, 'You're going to start getting up early,'" Brooke said.
Instead of riding with her brother to school, Brooke must get up 45 minutes earlier to meet the bus at 6:10 a.m.
And her brother?
"He's riding with friends," she said.
Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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