Gas prices steadily climb upward 

Gillian Russell was pumping gas into her car at a San Bruno Chevron station early Monday afternoon, knowing very well the 20 dollars she planned on spending would not fill her tank.

"I never spend more than $20," the 27-year-old San Mateo resident said. "I know it’s stupid. I know it just means I’ll have to come back (to the gas station) sooner. But my mind won’t let me spend more than that."

Russell hopes the day will return when a $20 bill would be enough to fill the tank to her Volkswagen Jetta. But there’s no telling when, if ever, that day will come again.

Every day since last week, gas prices for every Bay Area city hit a new record. Last Tuesday, San Francisco’s average price for self-serve regular gasoline was $3.64 a gallon, the highest in the nation, according to AAA of Northern California. By Monday, that price had risen to $3.71. The average gas price Bay Area-wide was $3.61 on Monday, up from $3.53 last week, according to AAA.

Nationally, the average price of self-serve regular gasoline was $3.22 on Monday, AAA spokesman Sean Comey said. The national mark was just a penny below the record set in May of last year.

But Comey said the prices could soar even higher with summer approaching.

"We still probably haven’t seen the worst of it," he said. "Typically prices rise in the spring because people tend to drive more in warmer weather. And we use different gasoline in summer than in the winter to reduce smog. That gasoline is harder to make and requires more oil."

Keeping the car in the garage may be one way to avoid costly gas prices, but some Bay Area residents seem reluctant to ride the bus, train or bike to work.

"I’ll just pay it," said Burlingame resident Gary Markle, 56, who works in Redwood City. "What can I say? I’ll tell myself one day that I’ll start taking Caltrain to work, but I know that won’t last. I’ll end up running late one day and I’ll decide to take the car in because it’s quicker. Then I’ll remember it’s less of a hassle to drive."

Burlingame’s John Whiteford, 62, said he would rather foot the gas bill than abandon his car as he filled up his tank Burlingame Valero gas station on Monday.

"If the (gas) prices keep going up, I’ll just have to buy less coffee or eat in more. They always say people will stop driving because they don’t want to pay (for gas), but there’s more cars on our highways today than there’s ever been."

maldax@examiner.com

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