Gas prices continue to climb

There was a time when motorists could avoid soaring gas prices by driving the longer distance to the cheapest gas station in town.

“Not so anymore,” said San Mateo resident Chris Sheldon. “It seems like it almost costs as much to drive the distance.”

With the average price of regular unleaded teetering just below $4 per gallon in the Bay Area, Sheldon said it’s becoming harder each day to call the cheapest gas in town “a good deal.”

“There’s no such thing as cheapest,” the 34-year-old administrative assistant said. “There’s expensive, and there’s less expensive.”

On Monday afternoon, Sheldon was paying $3.94 at the Shell Station on Third Avenue in San Mateo. Earlier this month, that same station was charging as low as $3.77, according to the AAA of Northern California.

Ten days ago, the Arco station at Fell and Divisadero streets in San Francisco cost $3.78, one of the best bargains in The City, AAA reported. Monday, the price was $3.83.

No one in the nation is paying more for gas than Bay Area residents. San Francisco’s average price of $3.98 on Monday was the most expensive in the U.S., according to AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris. The cost was a penny less the day before, and more than 50 cents cheaper a year before, she said.

“If you drive around San Francisco today, I bet you will see some unleaded gas prices for $4.02,” Harris said. “And you have to remember we are approaching Memorial Day weekend, so between now and then we probably won’t see a major decrease in gas prices because there will be more demand.”

Recent events overseas haven’t helped, Harris said. Crude oil set a record Monday for the sixth day in a row, closing above $117 a barrel, after an attack on a Japanese oil tanker in the Middle East rattled investors.

Diesel prices at the pump also struck a national record high of $4.20 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. That’s sure to add to truckers’ costs and drive up the price of food, clothing and other goods shipped by truck, analysts say.

maldax@examiner.com

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