Drivers hoping for relief as gas prices again hit record highs

NEW YORK — Many continue to feel the squeeze at the pump as gas prices have once again hit record levels.

The national average for a gallon of regular reached $4.87 on Monday. It was even more expensive in the Tri-State Area: $4.88 in New York, $4.89 in Connecticut and $4.99 in New Jersey. 

Demand remains high despite rising prices, and the few options the government has on the table offer meager savings, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported. 

Gas prices approaching the Holland Tunnel are hard to stomach. 

“This is the most expensive we’ve seen,” one driver said. 

A gallon of regular cost $5.09 and diesel almost $6.50 on Monday. Just mentioning the price makes drivers angry. 

“Every day it’s a difference price. Every day it just is getting higher and higher,” said Joseph Mahchi of Bayonne. 

The average cost for a gallon of regular in New Jersey is up 23 cents compared to a week ago, and nearly $2 compared to a year ago. The math makes people shudder. 

“I have big truck. Right now, $130. But before, it’s $100 or $89,” one driver said.

“It’s insane. It truly is insane. I don’t know how people can survive,” East Rutherford resident Kathryn Morris told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.

At a Costco in Clifton, the line stretched well beyond the pumps as drivers tried to squeeze out whatever savings they could.

Despite the eye-popping prices, analysts say demand continues to outpace supply. Whatever the pain point is, people haven’t reached it yet.

But there are a few things the government can do to ease the burden. Denton Cinquegrana with Oil Price Information Service said possible ideas include a federal gas tax holiday or changing the blend of gasoline we use in the summer to a cheaper winter grade. But the options look unlikely and the difference would be pennies on the dollar. 

“We’re going to have to consume less, so supply can actually catch up and things can normalize,” Cinquegrana said.

“You have to do something about it and very, very soon. People are getting hurt,” Mahchi said.

Some states, including New York and Connecticut, have waived their gas taxes temporarily.

In Westchester, the county set a cap on the gas tax, but even then Rincon saw prices as high as $6.57.

“It’s an exponential difference in terms of what I used to spend on gas and what I’m spending now, and it definitely impacts my finances,” said Anna Voorhees of Port Chester.

Patrick De Haan at Gas Buddy said drivers will likely pay 5 to 10 cents more per gallon within the next week, with little relief in sight.

“We may be resigned and destined to pay these higher prices until something more significantly changes, whether it be supply or demand, if there is an economic slowdown or improvement in the Russia situation,” De Haan said.  

Experts say even when demand is expected to level off during the middle of the summer, that’s when hurricane season typically starts and that could mean possible disruption of refineries.

Some families are already starting to cut back in anticipation.

“I try not to use my car as much, anymore. Unless it’s just for work,” said Eddie Santos.

Experts say many people haven’t changed their travel patterns or plans because of wage inflation and confidence in the jobs market. 

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