Rockporter Nick Benn stood next to a gasoline pump, directing the nozzle into his yellow 1968 GMC pick-up Friday.
“I’m running on fumes,” Benn called out to a familiar motorist. He eyed the sign advertising super unleaded grade gasoline at $4.19 a gallon, 25 cents a gallon more than regular fuel.
“They’ve jazzed the price up again,” Benn said. Benn’s gas bill struck $50 before the pump shut off, forcing him to run his credit card again to finish filling the tank. “When the gas prices skyrocketed before, we had to do this, too.”
Gas prices trend higher on Cape Ann than some nearby towns because of the distance distributors must travel to deliver the fuel, according to Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst at the gas price rating site GasBuddy.com. Prices on Cape Ann for regular gas ranged from $3.94 to $4.09 on Friday.
Still, the prices in Cape Ann are lower than many towns. Lexington for example, reflected prices up to $4.59 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline Friday. The average price Friday at pumps in Massachusetts was $3.93, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report. A year ago at this time the Massachusetts average price was $3.45.
But Californians are paying more than anyone at the pump — the average price of regular gas across the state was nearly $4.49 a gallon, said AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report.
Just like years past, gasoline prices have risen this summer, but the steep prices could tumble downward after this Columbus Day weekend, said Laskoski.
“The end of the tourist season, you’re going to see demand diminish significantly and that’s when you’ll see the prices drop significantly,” Laskoski said. “Retailers feel compelled to charge the price they know the consumer will pay.”
Though Rockporter Stephanie Tucci said she doesn’t use GasBuddy or anything similar to monitor the gas market, she said she keeps an eye on prices. And the Gloucester Twin Stop Gulf station had the lowest prices in town Friday, she said.
“I look at the prices around and these seem to be the lowest,” Tucci said. “I fill up when I see good prices.”
As Tucci drove away, Lanesville resident Jon Chandler pulled up to the pump in a rumbling, green Chevy Tahoe. Chandler said he used to own a twin of the large vehicle, but he sold it in favor of a Honda.
“It’s just better if you have to drive more,” Chandler said of the Honda.
Chandler said the tank can suck down more than 20 gallons of gasoline in one sitting at the pump. Now, Chandler said, his son is hoping to adopt the Tahoe.
“I told him ‘You’ll want to sell after you put gas in it once’,” Chandler said.
At the Richdale Mobil station in Essex, gasoline sells for $3.99 per gallon of regular unleaded. Many motorists pulling in and out of the station said they’d accepted the heightened prices and found positive twists.
Rockporter Peter Ferazzi, headed for a “destination unknown” on his Harley Davidson for the day, said he brushes off gasoline prices when he fills up his bike with super unleaded fuel, Friday at $4.19 per gallon.
“It’s for fun so I don’t really worry too much about it,” Ferazzi said.
Sara Del Rio of Hamilton said, though the fuel prices are a burden for many, she hoped the elevated prices might motivate people to use alternative modes of transportation, as they do in Europe, she said.
Donna Marchant remembered a time back when, when she could fill her faded blue 1953 Beetle’s tank for $3. But, Marchant, traveling in a Honda CR-V from her home in Gloucester on Friday, shrugged off the upward climb of rates.
“I worried about gas money most of my life,” Marchant said. “Today, I just put my card in and that’s it.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451, or firstname.lastname@example.org.