Gas prices keep motorists pumping out money

After reaching an all-time high in May, Bay Area gas consumers got a break when prices began to slump through June and into July. According to a national survey, however, gas prices once again are on the rise.

California’s average gas price rose to $3.11 as of last week, the national regular average to $3.06 a gallon, midgrade to $3.17 and premium to $3.29, according to recent reports. San Francisco had the highest price in the state at $3.24.

“They’re high,” Petaluma resident John Oliva said of The City’s gas costs. Oliva, who has worked in San Francisco his entire life, said he “tries to shop around” for the cheapest gas, but sometimes has to settle for pricier fuel because he is always on the move.

“Sometimes, I’m not sure that I want to pay that much for gas,” said San Francisco resident Christen New, who pays about $45 to fill up her Subaru once or twice a week. Though grateful she doesn’t have to pay “through the nose” for gas like European motorists do, New said she is aware of the costs and tries to catch public transportation as much as she can.

In May, San Francisco’s highest gas prices fluttered around $4, averaging $3.63, according to AAA. Some of the factors that played into the dramatic cost increase were oil refinery issues in the Midwest and on the West Coast, the conflict in the Middle East and the popular summer driving season, AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said.

After reaching their record-breaking peak on May11, gas prices began slowly dropping, AAA media spokesman Sean Comey said. However, more recently the cost trend has changed and prices may increase, Comey added.

“Oil prices are also rising. If that trend keeps up … gas prices will rise as a result,” he said.

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