Gas tanks sucking money from motorists |

Gas tanks sucking money from motorists

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Ted Gregory hopes big oil gets a clue that every day he’s losing money in the taxi business.

Gregory, who drives for Clue Taxi based in South Lake Tahoe, figures high gasoline prices have taken $10 from his wallet each time he fills up his fuel tank.

“Big oil companies are trying to run me out of business. It’s pretty tough,” he said, while pouring oil under the hood of his van at the Chevron station on Ski Run Boulevard.

The station sells self-serve unleaded gas for $2.21 a gallon, 32 cents more than the average price in town, AAA reported Tuesday. The February survey showed a leap of 8 cents in one month in South Lake Tahoe.

The increase has made many motorists more aware of prices around town.

Robin Haney goes out of her way to compare prices. The frugal Haney is unemployed, so every penny makes a difference while she looks for work.

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“I come all the way over (to Stateline) to get my gas because it’s 10 cents cheaper,” the South Shore resident said while filling up outside Tahoe Tom’s.

When she goes to Carson City, she stops to fill up, too.

“Sometimes my boyfriend will go down there just to fill up (his SUV),” she said.

Chris Houghton taps into his Costco membership in Carson City to save money on fuel. Houghton travels from Tahoe to Carson City for his parent’s cleaning business. While he’s there, he fills up.

“I have to go down there a lot anyway,” he said at Tahoe Tom’s.

Still, many motorists don’t change their driving habits when gas prices rise.

“You still gotta do what you have to do,” said Ed Owens of South Lake Tahoe.

Gas prices have surged across California. The state has experienced a 15-cents rise in one month to $1.79 per gallon for self-serve unleaded fuel, AAA reports.

San Francisco holds the distinction of the city having the highest prices in the state — $1.95. That’s an increase of 12 cents since January.

The national average is $1.61, rising 14 cents.

“Nationally, this is the highest price ever recorded by AAA during February,” AAA Northern California spokeswoman Jenny Mack said. “This is usually a time when prices are lower than other months of the year.”

Crude oil prices — staying above $30 a barrel — have soared during the past several weeks as the industry was forced to deal with a major decline in Venezuelan oil exports due to a two-month workers’ strike.

Nonetheless, Mack said there’s no need to panic as other countries like Russia have stepped in to boost the supply. Mack admitted there is no telling when motorists will see some relief.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at