State reaches record prices
Biology major Evin Bolano fills up his Honda Passport at the Shell Station on El Portal Drive in San Pablo on Monday. George Morin / The Advocate
Not since June 2008 has California's gas prices been nearly as much as they are presently, forcing Californians to pay the most expensive gas prices in U.S. history.
Contra Costa College students and other California residents are feeling the crunch in their wallets, but to not pay gas means to not drive. People are forced to pay the inflated rates, or try their hand at public transportation.
"Gas prices are crazy," CCC student Ashley Ruffin-Brown said. "I catch the bus. I'm planning on getting a car pretty soon. It will be convenient, but I know it will be difficult - times are tough."
Ruffin-Brown said the recent hike in gas prices is the cause for her re-thinking a car purchase.
For most of this year prices hovered around $4 per gallon. However, California's per gallon averages received a near 50 cent jump over the last week raising rates to record numbers of $4.66 for regular, $4.76 for midgrade and $4.86 for premium. "That's the reason I double thought it," Ruffin-Brown said. "People have to eat - this is crazy."
The state's website reports gas rates at an average of $4.58 per gallon for regular grade, $4.70 for midgrade and $4.79 for premium as of June 2008. Not until 2011 did rates, once again, reach at least $4 per gallon.
Sean Comey, a spokesperson for Chevron, did not provide specific reasons as to why gas prices have risen so drastically. He said currently there are "a variety of situations going on. This is an industry-wide issue."
Next to California stands Hawaii, with its $4.40, $4.49 and $4.58 prices per gallon, respectively, and following Hawaii is Alaska which regular to premium grade averages are all in the $4 range.
Only seven states have averages of four or more dollars with the Golden State leading the pack.
"I felt aggravated," CCC sociology major Kathy Harris said. "It's going up too often and too fast. It's a stressor. Pretty soon it will be better for me to take public transportation."
Harris commutes from Hayward to CCC - a 28-mile drive one-way, 56 miles per day. Because of the higher prices, Harris said, to her dismay she has adjusted the way she purchases gas, and has contemplated taking public transportation.
"I just pay the prices - not that I like to," she said.
Harris must now monitor her gas levels more closely than usual in order to relieve stress on her pocket book.
"It's too expensive to fill up from empty," she said. "I don't let my tank drop below half way."
Harris said she is planning on buying another vehicle to alleviate some of the strain at the pump.
"I'm working on getting a more economical car so I can use 87 (grade), that will help," she said.
She currently drives a v-6 Mercedes and only puts 91-grade (premium) gasoline into her vehicle.
On Oct. 1, the average price of gas per gallon was $4.17 for regular grade, $4.27 for mid grade and $4.38 for premium.
CCC student Brandon Brown said he travels to the college from Vallejo. Despite owning a four-cylinder vehicle, which he said is a "gas-saver," he is paying $20 more to fill up his tank now.
"Instead of filling up, I'm half-way filling up," he said. "I'm not really doing any extra driving around because I have to save a lot more money for gas. Some students I know have skipped an early class, if it's a short class (an hour or less), to save gas if they have to travel long distances."
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