S.F. is king of fuel prices no more

It will not lessen the pain at the gas pump, but Bay Area motorists may find some consolation in knowing others are finally paying more than them.

The price of unleaded gas in New York City moved up to $4.06 per gallon Monday, edging San Francisco by one penny for the country’s highest gas prices, according to Michael Geeser of the AAA, which monitors daily pump prices. Chicago, which has been at $4.05 since May 16, is tied with San Francisco for second-costliest in the nation.

Chicago and New York were under $4 per gallon as recently as last week, Geeser said. He said it was difficult to pinpoint the cause of the two cities’ quick jump in gas prices, but it could be attributed to area retail merchants finally caving in to rising oil costs.

Another gas study, released Sunday by the independent polling group Lundberg Survey Inc., also found that San Francisco was not the most expensive place to purchase gas, but it put Chicago at the top of the list. In the Lundberg study, the Chicago metropolitan area had gas at $4.07 per gallon, and Long Island, N.Y, was second at $4.01. That industry report was based on firsthand accounts of prices at 7,000 gas stations nationwide.

San Francisco’s welcome demotion from the top of the gas-price heap did little to impress Lafayette resident Carl Martin, who works in The City’s Financial District.

Despite commuting every day on BART, Martin said, he still spends $70 to $80 a week on gas. On Monday, Martin poured in $50 to fill up his tank at the 76 station at First and Harrison streets, where gas is $4.15 a gallon.

“The gas prices definitely limit my options,” Martin said. “I try to minimize using the car as much as possible, but sometimes you have no choice.”

While nowhere near the prices Bay Area residents are paying, the nationwide average cost of gas moved to a record high of $3.79 per gallon Monday, the 12th straight day a new standard was met, Geeser said.

While San Francisco, New York and Chicago set the standard for high gas prices for urban areas on the mainland, neither city can beat the cost Hawaiians have to pay in the town of Wailuku, where a gallon of unleaded is $4.27.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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