Ithaca Businesses, Residents Cope with Rising Gas Prices

By Steven Brasley and Natalie Krawczyk

A Fastrac gas station in Ithaca sells gas at the city’s average price.

Joan and Sandy Reuning of Ithaca like to travel, but they rarely drive long distances. When they do decide to travel, it’s under “no matter what” circumstances. The elderly couple plans on driving to Boston for Thanksgiving, but said they would have gone farther if gas prices weren’t so high.

The Reunings recently bought a second car with better gas mileage to replace their old one, to better economize their fuel intake.

“Before we maybe wouldn’t even think about [gas mileage],” Sandy said.

Gas Prices in Ithaca, NY from Natalie Krawczyk on Vimeo.

Gas prices are very high in Ithaca; the average price in the city as of October 29 is $3.94 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. This compares to the current state average of about $3.90 per gallon, and the current national average of $3.56 per gallon.

“New York is almost always above the national average,” said Gregg Laskoski, a petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. The State of New York tends to fall into a pool of states that have high taxes on both the state and federal level, which drastically boots gas prices in the region, Laskoski explained.

The City of Ithaca, however, has recently seen gas prices even higher than the state average. Last week’s prices were about 30 cents above the average price in New York State; as of October 27 the price difference is much less at about six cents per gallon, but higher than the state average nonetheless.

County and local taxes could contribute to higher gas prices in a town, Laskoski said. The volume of residents in an area also impacts the prices at the pump.

“If you’re in the sticks, volume is relatively low,” Laskoski said. “[Fuel distributors] are less likely to discount prices in low-volume areas.”

Local businesses that use excessive amounts of fuel have also been affected by rising fuel costs. Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) offers bus service to various places in Tompkins County.

“We’re receiving the pump price as well [as the average resident],” said Joe Turcotte, TCAT General Manager. TCAT buses run on diesel fuel. The current 2012 average for diesel is $3.56 per gallon. TCAT consumes about 425,000 gallons of fuel each year, a cost of about one million dollars.

The rising cost of gas has in some ways helped TCAT, however, by encouraging more Ithaca residents to take the bus. Turcotte says about 30 percent of TCAT’s budget comes from bus fares.

“The increase in riders definitely helps our budget,” he said.

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