OLYMPIA - Four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline is here and local motorists aren't happy.
The average price for a gallon of gas in Olympia reached $4.04 on Monday – three cents higher than the state average – according to the AAA auto club.
Across the state, drivers are paying 6 cents more than the national average and 6 cents more than they paid a week ago, with increases of 20 cents seen in a month and 92 cents in the past year. The last time gas averaged $4 or above in Washington was mid-August 2008, according to a spokesperson for AAA.
Late Monday morning, commuters pulled into the Shell station on Blake Lake Boulevard near Capitol Mall to find $4.07 a gallon for regular. Those who frequent the station may have also noticed another change: they had to pump their own gas. The station had been one of a few in the area that had an employee fill drivers’ tanks – a luxury that was eliminated this week after six months because of declining business, said manager Suzy Ortiz.
“I think it’s going to get slower if gas keeps going up,” she said.
Olympia resident Francis Vidal commutes to Grand Mound for work and doesn’t let her tank get too low. She put six gallons of medium grade gasoline into her Acura TSX; at $4.17 a gallon, she left paying about $25.
“I’m definitely feeling it now that it’s over $4,” Vidal said. “Before it was a necessary evil, now it feels ridiculous.”
She said the higher prices have eliminated any thought of spontaneous trips.
Even those who don’t pay for gas are feeling the increase.
Andy Vernon of Seattle works for John Hancock Funds and is reimbursed for travel and entertainment. As he filled up Monday, Vernon couldn’t bear to look at the pump, saying every dollar that he puts in his car comes out of the budget for client meals and networking on the golf course, places he said a lot of his business gets done.
He left the station with a $60 tab.
Randy Wilson, a state employee from Shelton, filled up his state-issued Ford Escape Hybrid and said he and his wife carpool once a week and take care of errands in “one fell swoop.”
“I’m not happy about it, but what can I do?” Wilson said about the increase in prices.
Some metro prices around the state from the AAA’s Monday survey:
Bellingham $4.10, Bremerton $4.04, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $4.04, Tacoma $4.02, Vancouver $3.93, Yakima $3.98, Tri-Cities $3.95, and Spokane $3.84.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.