As gas prices have increased around the area, so has frustration among many Mahoning Valley drivers.
According to a AAA report, the average price of gas in Northeast Ohio is $3.81 per gallon, 19 cents more than the previous week. The increase has created irritation, inconvenience and a search for the best prices in town.
At Big Apple Supermarket at Albert Street and McGuffey Road, gas was set at $3.69 per gallon Wednesday, nearly 12 cents lower than the area average. It’s one of the reasons Steve Corbett of Liberty went there to fill his tank. The comparatively low price gives his wallet and weekend plans little comfort, however.
“I go to Cleveland often, but now I got to think twice before I start traveling anywhere,” he said. “In the summer, I’m expecting an increase [in gas prices], but not this time of the year.”
Ron Catale of Poland stopped at Big Apple to fill his tank after attending a funeral Wednesday afternoon. He said drivers have little choice but to pay the price.
“If you don’t have gas, how are you going to get to work?” he said. “Your are kind of held captive by the whole thing.”
He said the price increase is affecting his wife more than him. Catale said his work is only a couple of miles from his home, while his wife travels to Salem every day.
“Thankfully, it’s only one of us who has to drive far to get to work,” he said. “I don’t know how a lot of people do it.”
Just a few miles south at Gateway Gas Mart on Market Street, gas was $3.74 a gallon. Though the gas prices were slightly higher than Big Apple Market, some customers shared the same frustrations.
Ernestine Marshall of Youngstown works in the health-care sales industry and stopped at Gateway on Wednesday. She said her job requires her to travel often, including trips to Akron a couple of times a week.
“I have to limit where I go now,” she said. “I’m spending so much on gas that I just try and stay in the area for business right now.”
According to AAA, rising prices are being propelled by more expensive crude, regional refinery issues and the approaching switch to summer-blend gasoline.
“Right now, things are tight worldwide,” Ray Carbone, president of New York commodities trading firm Paramount Options, told CNN. “Refineries going down, unanticipated maintenance and higher demand ... going into driving season.”
Two-thirds of the cost of one gallon of gas comes from the price of crude, which has jumped 10 percent in the last two months, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Ohio is roughly $3.80, according to AAA. The state average is 15 cents higher than a week ago, and nearly 50 cents more than the same time last year.
The state average is a nickel higher than the national average of about $3.75, which is also 15 cents higher than a week ago.
The national average has risen 45 cents in the past month.
The survey said the lowest average price for gas is in Wyoming, where a gallon is $3.18. Drivers in Hawaii are paying the highest average, $4.28 per gallon.