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.