Heading to the gas pump? Local experts weigh in on why you’ll be spending more

Economy

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The nationwide supply chain crisis continues to impact many facets of our lives, including transportation.

The price of gas is continuing to grow, reaching some of its highest levels in years. Usually, the weeks after Labor Day are when gas prices start to go down with less people traveling and kids back in school. But that’s not the case this year.

News 8’s Ally Peters spoke with local experts on why heading to the pump can be so costly these days. 

Amit Batabyal, an Arthur J. Gosnell Economics Professor at RIT, said it all has to do with supply and demand.

“Supplies haven’t kept up with rising demand because producers are scared. They don’t want to have to confront lower prices, or really low prices once again. So what they’re doing right now is they’re very, very slowly increasing supply, if at all. And when supply stays constant and demand goes up, that’s a surefire recipe for prices to go up, and that’s basically what we’re seeing,” Batabyl said. 

Batabyl said large producers overseas, like OPEC, also aren’t increasing production as much. 

“They’re quite happy with high prices. That’s a key source of their revenues. And on the other hand, they don’t want to have to deal with rapidly fluctuating prices, particularly if they’re trending downwards. That’s a bad thing for them. So that’s why they’re increasing supply only slowly,” he said. 

According to AAA, local gas prices are on average $3.50 a gallon, 8 cents higher than last week. Meanwhile, the average price of gas in New York State is up a dime and higher than the national average.

April Engram, the Communications Specialist for AAA Western & Central New York, says a rising price of crude oil and shortage of deliver truck drivers could also have an impact on prices. 

“The need for truckers was actually the result of the pandemic with less travel. There wasn’t a need for as many truckers to deliver gasoline and therefore, low point for truckers and now the complete opposite. And then just you know, the country trying to meet, catch up to the quick, sudden demand for gasoline,” Engram said. 

Batabyl said while higher gas prices can negatively impact everyone, families who have a lower income are often hurt the most. 

“They are typically going to be the heart going to be hurt the most//the demand for gasoline tends to be something that economists called elastic, which in simple English means that demand does not respond to a whole lot and price changes, so even if the price goes up, consumers tend to buy basically the same amount. And when prices have gone up, if you’re buying the same amount, that means you have less money left over to do other things,” Batabyl said. 

But despite the increase in cost, Engram says it’s not clear if it will really keep people off the roads who have somewhere they want to travel, especially during the pandemic. 

“A lot of people are exploring New York state, so people are still driving and visiting local sites if they’re not quite ready to get on a plane and fly far,” Engram said. “We are seeing a lot of requests and interest in local like, for instance, in New York state parks and things of that sort.”

As prices continue to go up, what can you do to save money?

Experts say if you can, take public transportation or carpool with others. They also say shop around at local gas stations. 

“Even within Rochester, different gas stations have different prices. They don’t vary too much because otherwise you would expect the cheaper workplaces to be inundated with consumers, but you can shop around a little,” Batabyl said. 

There are also tips you can take as a driver.

“Don’t be a lead foot. Don’t hit that gas pedal very hard…and when you take off from a stopped position to a green light, again, even just being a light on the gas pedal can help, you won’t burn as much gas,” Engram said. 

She also said take off any items that might add more weight on the car or take a smaller vehicle that uses less gas. And of course, utilizing cruise control can help. 

Unfortunately, President Biden said last week it likely won’t be until early 2022 when we see some relief at the gas pump come. Experts say increasing supply takes time.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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