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Falling gas prices fuel improvements at Hollywood tour company



A double-decker Starline Tours bus makes a stop in downtown Los Angeles.
A double-decker Starline Tours bus makes a stop in downtown Los Angeles.
Brian Watt/KPCC
A double-decker Starline Tours bus makes a stop in downtown Los Angeles.
"Hop-on, Hop-off" routes at Starline Tours cover more than a hundred miles, with 20 to 25 buses traveling regular schedules every day.
waltarrrrr/Flickr Creative Commons


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The price of a gallon of gas has now dipped below three dollars at many stations in the Los Angeles area, and that decline has freed up a lot of cash for LA-based Starline Tours

The Daily Fuel Gauge reported by the Automobile Club of Southern California put Tuesday's average Los Angeles-Long Beach area gas price at $3.24 per gallon, down 40 cents from a month ago and dropping more than a dollar from the $4.32 Angelenos were paying in early May. But the tracking site LosAngelesGasPrices.com listed stations with prices as low as $2.89 per gallon.

Mapping LA: Average price for regular unleaded gasoline

"We’re filling up every single day with our buses; so when we see these prices fall, it certainly directly helps us," says Phillip Ferentinors, director of Starline Tours of Hollywood.  "The lower fuel prices have allowed us to use some of the money instead on technology," Ferentinors told KPCC.  He says the company is now investing in upgrades of its systems for ticketing, reservations and internal communications. 

While Starline stages long-haul tours to places like San Francisco and the Grand Canyon, it is famous for double-decker bus tours of Hollywood and LA-area attractions. Seven years ago, it began a "hop-on, hop-off" service that lets tourists get off a bus at one stop and catch a later bus to their next stop.

Ferentinors says the "hop-on, hop-off" routes cover more than a hundred miles, with 20 to 25 buses traveling regular schedules every day. Lower gas prices are a blessing during low tourist season, when the buses must keep running, but fewer customers are paying to hop on and off.

"They go round and round these routes," says Ferentinors. "The miles are coming a little cheaper now, because those double decker-buses use a lot of fuel."  

The national average price of gas has now declined 46 days in a row, according to the Automobile Club (AAA), the longest consecutive fall-off since 2008.