By David Cruz
It’s enough to make you want to drive again. Gas prices falling as the temperatures start to rise, a positive sign for a region that has been struggling economically on a number of fronts. The state average, according to gas price-watchers is $3.26. That’s down 20 cents from a month ago, and almost 50 cents from a year ago. The reason? Speculators in the marketplace, betting on the levels of supply and demand for profit. Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gas and Convenience Store Association says right now, supply is up and demand is down.
“It’s down just a little bit,” says Risalvato, “but it’s enough to make the people who speculate on the price of gas and crude believe that it has to go down in order for you to buy it, so that’s what’s causing the downward syndrome we’re experiencing right now.”
For motorists, the “why” is frankly not that important, so long as it means a break at the pump.
“I begin to accept the fact that it’s never going to come down,” says Edward Mesa, of Jersey City. “However, it’s hard on us. The increases come from the table, meaning that we live on a fixed income and whatever increases you get, you cut down on whatever needs you have.”
At the Shell station on 1 & 9 in North Bergen, attendants were busy pumping gas and changing prices. Manager Amarjit Singh says market fluctuations are a definite factor but so is competition on the busy thoroughfare.
“Last week it was $3.20, $3.22 and I’m going to lower it 2 cents more right now,” he said as he prepared to switch the pump price from $3.19 to $3.17.
It’s something you don’t often see at your local gas station. A welcome sight for motorists, as we head into the start of summer. And this will be a critical season for places like the Jersey Shore, which is hoping for the return of tourists to both lift spirits and ring cash registers.
“There will be people who are no longer concerned with the price of gas, in terms of whether or not they’re going to take that trip, so I think that could have a positive impact, particularly for Jerseyans who are looking to go to the shore for the day,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs with the New Jersey Automobile Club. “There’ll probably be a few more day trippers and people who say, ‘I can do that extra trip.’”
The cheapest gas price we found in North Jersey today was $3.09. Industry analysts say that if the trend continues — and they expect that it will — you shouldn’t be surprised to see gas under $3 a gallon this summer.