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To Many Area Drivers, New Jersey Is Gas Price Utopia

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York drivers know there's a not-so-secret way to ease the pain at the pump. That's right -- gas up in the Garden State!

Reporter Tony Aiello was out on "pump patrol" in one of CBS 2's Mobile 2 units on Thursday.

On the Rockland side of the New York/New Jersey state line one Gulf station Aiello saw was pretty much a ghost town.

So where did all the drivers go?

"Jersey. Where else would you go?" driver Louie Salerno said.

With gas prices about 14-percent cheaper than New York, Bergen County beckons.

RELATED: Thanks Libya: Tri-Staters Bracing As $4 Gas Nears

AAA said a gallon of regular in the five boroughs averages $3.51. Across the river in New Jersey it's $3.09.

Gas Pump
Gas Pump (credit: CBS 2)

One New Yorker said his vehicle has a 60-gallon tank. By gassing up in New Jersey he saved $27. The owner of the Exxon near the George Washington Bridge said most of his New York customers are like Susan Sladowski -- people who take advantage of a scheduled trip to Jersey.

"My daughter lives out over here, so when I know I'm gonna visit her, I don't fill up in New York. I come over here and fill up. Taxes are less here, so gas is less," Sladowski said.

But because of the traffic and the tolls to cross the river, "it doesn't pay unless I happen to come to Jersey, because the tolls zero out the difference," Sladowski said.

But one Pace University economist said as prices rise there is no doubt many New York drivers will "do the math" to see if it's worth a special trip to gas up in New Jersey.

"If you have a 20-mile-per-gallon car, and you can save 50 cents a gallon, and you can take 20 gallons, suddenly that's a 10-dollar saving. You can drive many miles to take advantage of that savings and still be ahead," Professor Ron Filante said.

As the intensity of the civil unrest rises in Libya, so does the price of oil. It hit $103 a barrel Thursday, the highest since August 2008, and worries over supplies abroad were sparking fears here that not only could the cost of gas soon surge past $5 a gallon, but that prices for food and clothing could rise even higher as well.

The Commissioner of Consumer Affairs tells 1010 WINS' Stan Brooks that you are getting what you're paying for at the pump


"I'm like, wait, November it was $2.79. Now, $3.73," complained Sara Connoly of Brooklyn.

Libya exports less than 2-percent of the worlds oil, and a fraction of that comes to the United States. Also, consider it typically takes weeks, if not months for Middle East crude to be shipped and processed into gas we can use.

So it's easy to understand why drivers are questioning why their price at the pump is rising so rapidly now.

 Why do you think gas prices are on the rise?

Asked what he just finished paying to fill up his jeep, James Carlton of Brooklyn answered: "More than I should have paid. I paid $58 for 15 gallons of gas."

"Oil speculation is what's driving up the price. I think it's the greed of oil producers and certainly the speculators on Wall Street that have everything to do with the increase in oil prices. So I think thats really the issue," said resident Ken Estey.

Even Coney Island Shell gas dealer Cuneyt Erdal said he was forced to pay higher wholesale prices. He said some of that extra cost has been passed onto a dwindling customer base.

"Of course I'm losing customers. And they increase 22-cents in two days," he said, noting that the drop has cut into his profits.

One driver seemed suspicious of the price hike, suggesting companies look for "Any excuse they can find, it seems" to hike prices. "Just call me a disgruntled driver," he said to CBS 2.

Consumer Affairs tells WCBS 880 Reporter Rich Lamb that consumers are getting every drop of gas they are owed.


With gas prices rocketing out of site, the Consumer Affairs Department inspected over 10,000 pumps around the New York City and found 97 percent of them delivered what you're paying for.

"Even though prices are up our inspectors showed some fantastic news; accuracy compliance rate is at 97 percent across the city," Consumer Affair Commissioner Jonathan Mintz said. "Ninety-seven percent of the time, almost every single time, these gas pumps are accurately dispensing what it is they tell you they're dispensing."

Do you head to New Jersey in times like these? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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