High gas prices have drivers rethinking trips

With the price of a barrel of oil touching $100, some New Yorkers are starting to change their daily

With the price of a barrel of oil touching $100, some New Yorkers are starting to change their daily routines to save money at the gas pump.

They include people like Don Darling of Amsterdam and his wife, who have sacrificed their shopping trips to Albany to save money.

“We try to stay close to home and not use too much energy,” he said.

Darling is a retired General Electric employee and he said Thursday he’s glad he’s retired because the cost of commuting to Schenectady for work would have cost a substantial sum.

Darling drives a Chevrolet Impala, which he said gets about 22 miles to the gallon. He tries to keep the tank at least half full, especially in the winter, he said. It used to cost him about $20 to fill half the tank, but now it’s nearly $30.

“I’m not happy,” he said while filling up at the Stewart’s Shop on Route 30 in Amsterdam.

According to Eric Stigberg, public affairs manager for AAA Northway, the big picture is the dwindling world oil supply and geopolitical tensions that are contributing to the increasing cost of gas. What is helping temper prices is that demand seems to be decreasing, Stigberg said.

“We are finally at the price where people are starting to change their behaviors,” Stigberg said.

Heather Ryczek, 26, of Broadalbin, drives a Ford Explorer and her husband drives a large truck. She said they both need four-wheel-drive vehicles because they live in a rural area, but her SUV typically costs $50 to fill.

Ryczek drives about 40 minutes round trip to her work on Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam. She said her husband, who is a carpenter, drives much more, spending nearly $75 per week on gasoline.

The price of gas plays a factor in a lot of her daily decisions, she said, including taking shopping trips to Albany during Christmas time, which have to be planned and done efficiently.

“Even simple things like going to the grocery store, I think about it,” she said.

Ryczek said she doesn’t have children but she can’t imagine what it’s like having to drive youngsters to various practices and other commitments.

“I’m sure even the kids are missing out on things,” she said. “It’s really too bad it has to be this way.”

According to statistics from AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.05, but in New York the average price is $3.28.

Stigberg said statistically the price of gas falls during January and February and picks up again during the spring and summer months. He said the record-setting price of gas in the winter is not a good sign of things to come.

“Unfortunately gas prices don’t have much chance of going down any time soon,” he said. “Last year the price of a barrel of oil was around $50, now it’s nearly $100. We are headed for record territory nationally and here in our area as well.”

Stigberg advised those seeking to save money to carpool when possible, make sure their vehicles are running properly and take the most fuel efficient vehicle on long trips.

For Jeff Wojacik of Charleston, gas prices are just something with which he has to deal. Wojacik travels 30 minutes one way to reach his job as a Thruway toll collector in Amsterdam. He said it costs him $55 to fill up his GMC Jimmy and that only lasts him about four days.

Wojacik said he has been working extra shifts to make up for increasing gas costs.

He said he believes the only way people are going to see relief from gas prices is for the United States to decrease its dependence on foreign oil.

“Nothing is going to change unless we do something about it,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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