Gasoline prices in the Bay Area soar ahead of Independence Weekend


The first long vacation weekend since California lifted coronavirus restrictions is here, but those who want to hit the road face the Bay Area’s highest gas prices in seven years.

“It’s ridiculous how high gas prices are right now,” said Priscilla Tovar as she refueled her car on McKee Road in San Jose. “Prices have gone up a lot all year round.

Bay Area prices for a gallon of unleaded gasoline averaged $ 4.38 on Thursday. This is an increase of nearly 23% from the New Years price of $ 3.56 per gallon, according to information compiled from the GasBuddy site.

“Gasoline prices are disappointing,” said Josh Cooney, a Hayward resident who pumped gasoline at a Fremont station after returning from a week-long vacation trip. “It’s $ 15 to $ 20 more to refuel my car than before.”

The cost of gasoline in the Bay Area, as measured by an official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of the price of unleaded gasoline, is the highest since July 2014.

The holiday weekend is a chance for people to get behind the wheel or get on a plane for long-awaited getaways after 15 months of extensive restrictions on business and travel.

“Cabin fever has never been higher,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, which tracks gasoline and fuel prices in real time. “Americans are making up for lost time.

Sergio Avila, spokesperson for AAA Northern California, said the main drivers of the price hike are “confidence in the global rollout of vaccination, spikes in global demand for oil and the easing of travel restrictions. leading to optimism about leisure travel “.

The pain at the pump is all the more shocking given where the prices were when the trips stopped and many people stayed at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. At the end of April of last year, prices in the Bay Area were around $ 2.84 per gallon. Now they’re $ 1.54 higher a gallon.

Likewise, average unleaded gasoline prices in the three largest cities in the nine-county region rose sharply in the first half of 2021, according to GasBuddy.

– Gasoline prices in San Jose, now averaging $ 4.36 per gallon, were $ 3.92 at the start of the year.

– Gas prices in Oakland, now at $ 4.35, have climbed $ 3.35.

– Gasoline prices in San Francisco at $ 4.43 a gallon jumped $ 3.42 on New Years Day.

Gasoline prices, among the lowest in the Bay Area, are posted on a sign at the Moe’s Stop gas station on McKee Road in San Jose on July 1, 2021 (Doug Duran / Bay Area News Group )

However, it is possible to find inexpensive gasoline. For years, a stretch of McKee Highway from San Jose, just off US Highway 101, has housed some of the city’s cheapest gas stations, with the exception of a few Safeway gas stations where people can make big savings through discounted rewards.

On Thursday morning, Moe’s Stop and Gas & Shop, two stations across from each other on McKee Road in North 33rd Street, were selling unleaded fuel between $ 3.79 and $ 3.80 per gallon. Stations have been locked in a price war for years, whether gas costs are low, high or medium.

Some motorists say they can change the type of vehicle they drive because of the sky-high prices.

“Gas prices are crazy right now,” said Noel Lua, a Modesto resident who refueled at a Fremont station. “The other day it cost me $ 5.22 a gallon, which is the highest I have ever paid.”

Lua had just left her job at the sprawling Tesla electric vehicle factory and was preparing to return home, an easily 90-minute to two-hour journey.

“I’m definitely thinking about switching to an electric car,” she said.

Customers looking for one of the Bay Area’s lowest gas prices line up for an open pump at Gas & Shop on McKee Road in San Jose. // Doug Duran / Bay Area News Group

Short-term relief from soaring gasoline prices is not an option anytime soon, experts say.

“Demand will remain high because people want to go out and drive,” GasBuddy analyst De Haan said.

And this frenzied demand will add a lot of propellant to the already brutal cost of gasoline.

“Drivers should get used to higher gas prices,” AAA spokesman Avila said. “We expect them to continue to increase during most of the summer months.”

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