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Frustrated by Rising Fuel Costs? You're Not Alone

Gas prices changing the way we drive and fill-up on gas

As gas prices increase, people in Waukesha are changing their driving habits to save money.

At gas stations around town, every person interviewed said they were adjusting their driving and fueling habits to minimize the impact of the higher prices.

For Vicky Haut, of the Town of Waukesha, that means running more than one errand at a time and mapping out trips beforehand. And while she didn’t have any trips planned for spring break, she is concerned about summer trips with the price of gas projected to be as high as it is or even higher.

“With summer coming, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Haut while filling her tank at the Speedway on Grand and Frame avenues.

Besides being more expensive, filling the tank has gotten logistically more difficult. Her gas card has a limit of $45.

“I remember when $45 would buy a tank of gas,” she said wryly.

One thing that has gotten easier is finding out which station has the best price. Haut’s husband uses the computer to research the best gas prices.  Finding the station that has the cheapest gas and is closest to where she needs to go can be tricky, though, leading her to wonder how much money would be saved, if any, by driving across town for a few less pennies per gallon.

Gas prices have her family re-considering their next car.  They could get something nicer, she said, but her husband told her he will be looking for a car with good gas mileage.

Gas station owners aren’t happy about the increases in gas prices either, according to Brian Colburn, owner of Colburn’s Citgo on the corner of Sunset and Grand Ave.

“People are not excited about the higher prices, and we’re not happy either,” Colburn said.

Colburn explained that higher prices result in people buying less gas, which isn’t good for his business.

With prices set by major oil companies, small business owners like Colburn are caught in the middle with little control over the prices and customers upset by the prices.

He does see more understanding on the part of customers, though, compared to a year and half ago when prices spiked.

“Now people are angry but they’re not taking it out on cashiers," Colburn said. "Consumers see it as the global issue it is."

Other than the impact on his business, what ultimately worries him is that with people driving less, there could be a larger impact on the economy in general – people staying home more, eating out less, taking fewer trips.

That impact was illustrated by one of the station’s customers minutes later: “Now I don’t drive any more than I have to, just to work and back,” she said.

Another customer remarked that it cost him $85 to fill-up his gas tank and asked Colburn if gas prices were going to go down. He was disappointed by Colburn’s answer.

At the BP across town, Ellis Merritt, Waukesha, said that the higher gas prices “definitely affect how I drive.”

Merritt’s commute to Glendale is one of the reasons he’s grateful for a smaller, more fuel-efficient car but even with his gas-saving vehicle, he conscious of the cost of a tank of gas.

“Nowadays, I fill up half a tank at a time,” he said.

He is not alone in that regard. A frequent comment from people across town was that they were filling-up to a certain dollar amount, $10 to $20 at a time.

For some gas-saving tips, read “Five Tips for Making the Most of Your Gas Money” on Patch.

Jerry Bean April 27, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Surprised you're against this seeing as your comments are always so pro free market. Maybe the president is agreeing with the unrestricted free market folks like yourself that the gas companies have the right, duty and obligation to gouge people on prices, especially those who consider alternative options of transportation to be pure socialism. So if you practice what you preach, thank the gas companies for being the free market kings they are and stop bashing them for their record profits. Complaining about the price is socialism.
Ronsta April 28, 2011 at 01:27 AM
I bike or walk as much as possible for short trips and errands, even in this weather. A raincoat and back pack are the cost of a couple tanks of gas but a far better value.
Keith Best April 28, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Hey, When George W. Bush was in office, all the gas price rises were blamed on him. Even a current United States Senator, Claire McCaskill Democrat from Missouri came right out in her campaign speeches and blamed Bush for manipulating gas prices since I saw the videos. Liberal Democrats said that the oil in ANWR wouldn't come online for 10 years. That was 1o years ago. Obama is supporting Brazil in their drilling for oil but forgoes us. Yes, I blame Obama, for he has been president for over 2 1/2 years. He gets just as much blame as Bush did since he has done twice as much to impede our own supply. How's that "Hope and Change" working for ya???
Jerry Bean April 28, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Still a for shame on you Mr. Best for bashing these fine oil companies for gouging the consumers! It's their right to do so and you should be supporting them with all your heart! They're making plenty of profit and some fool will eventually open up ANWAR, but the price will remain high. Welcome to the free market!
Keith Best April 28, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Mr. Bean, I'm not bashing any oil company. You see while the media attempts to stir up the liberals with "record profit" notices, I know that oil companies have only a 10% profit margin. Harley-Davidson has a 17% margin while Microsoft has a 38% profit margin so Big Oil is hardly gashing anyone. ANWR is a barren wasteland that will require 2,000 acres out of 20 million. Liberal Democrats said it would take 10 years for ANWR oil to come on-line. That was 10 years ago. And Obama? He is clueless. What a lousy excuse for a leader.

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