MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Although gas prices were expected to rise in mid-March, motorists around Mount Vernon have instead seen the price at the pump drop slightly as the summer driving season rapidly approaches.
At $3.88 per gallon of regular gas, New Yorkers still pay the second most in the continental United States, topped only by California’s $4.04; however, the national average is down to $3.62 per gallon, 10 cents cheaper than a month ago and nearly 30 cents lower than a year ago, according to AAA’s daily fuel gauge report.
Robert Sinclair, media relations manager for AAA New York, said fuel prices spiked in mid-February and the region has seen a steady decline ever since.
“The price of crude oil has fallen slightly, that may have something to do with it,” he said. “The spike we’re anticipating can still come. The summer driving season is still a few months off, so we’ll have to see what happens.”
A dramatic spike may occur around Memorial Day, which is the unofficial kickoff of the summer driving season, Sinclair said. That's when oil companies raise prices as motorists prepare to spend more time in their cars.
“If companies anticipate a busy Memorial Day, then we’ll probably have a busy summer,” he added. “With it, demand goes up, and oil companies never miss a chance to raise prices. That’s the next hurdle for us to look for.”
Refineries have already made the switch from a winter blend of gasoline to the more expensive, eco-friendlier summer blend. The transition happened earlier than usual, which led to the spike in mid-February instead of March.
“We usually get the jump in mid-March because the refineries need to shut down for a few days, sometimes even for a week or two. It creates short-term shortages,” Sinclair said. “It’s still pretty darn cold out, so their actions seemed premature.”
According to GasBuddy , the cheapest gas in Mount Vernon can be found at Speed Gas on West First Avenue, at $3.85 per regular gallon. The least expensive premium gas is also at Speed Gas, at $4.15 per gallon.
Resident Anna Philips, who was filling up at the BP station on Mount Vernon Avenue, said she has enjoyed the decreasing prices.
“It’s still a lot, but it’s nice to see prices going down for a change,” she said. “Hopefully this can keep up and we don’t reach $4 per gallon again.”
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