Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Local gas prices reach $4


As gas prices in Santa Barbara race to record highs, local residents and commuters prepare to make decisions that may help alleviate the financial sting. This recent jump has ignited anger from many locals and prompted them to seek other, less expensive, forms of transportation.
“It’s just ridiculous,” said Eli Rubio, a Ventura resident wh commutes to work in Santa Barbara. “It’s almost four bucks now. I used to go out on the weekends, but now I usually just stay home. It’s just too expensive. Most of the time now I have to carpool or just not drive at all.”

“If it gets to be $4.15, I’ll probably start taking the bus, or something. I won’t have a choice. My car uses so much gas as it is,” he added, glancing over at Shell sign as he filled his tank.
The Shell station on Carrillo and Chapala listed its regular gas at $3.68 per gallon yesterday. Santa Barbara gas prices are some of the highest in California. According to the fuel price survey conducted by AAA, California’s average gas prices currently hover around $3.61 per gallon.
“I’m not taking any trips, that’s for sure,” said Santa Barbara resident Tom Garcia. “I only have a ten minute drive to work, so it’s not that bad for me like it is for all those people who have to commute. But if it gets anywhere past the $4 mark it’s going to be time to start taking the bus.”
The prices of fuel near the Montecito area are often even higher than those in downtown Santa Barbara. The Chevron at 1085 Coast Village Rd. posted its regular gas price at $3.90 per hour yesterday.
Residents can take advantage of the many Internet Web sites that inform consumers of where to find the cheapest gas is in their area.
The increasing cost of fuel has sparked an effort among many locals to cut down on their gas consumption in order to keep their bank accounts from running on empty. One Santa Barbara resident named Bill Hurst said he had taken to riding his bike to his job in downtown Santa Barbara every day from his home on the west side of the 101 freeway.
“I try to ride my bike whenever I can,” he said while holding his two-wheeler’s handlebars. “I’m just lucky I’ve always been used to riding places. I only drive when I have to, like when I go to see my mom. That’s a little too far to bike. The car I have now is so big though and it takes up a lot of gas. I’m starting to thing it’s small-car time, now.”
“Also, I’ve been reading about those hydrogen fuel cars. I think it might be time to get those on the road as fast as possible,” Hurst added.
Experts have said that the momentum of current the price increase has not shown signs of decreasing momentum. Most predict that Southern California gas will reach $4 by this summer.
This upward climb follows a nation-wide trend, as documented by AAA. As of Wednesday, the average price of regular fuel in the US reached $3.24 per gallon. California and Hawaii were the two states with the highest prices. This and the general concern about the rising cost of living have sparked an interest in cheaper, more fuel-efficient modes of transportation.

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