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Filling up your car on 11th Avenue may soon cost as much as financing a Porsche or Bentley across the street, as New York gas prices increase by the minute amid record inflation and the US ban on Russian oil imports.
While the sudden jump in prices hits all drivers hard, few are impacted more than NYC’s taxi and Uber drivers. Taxi driver Wain Chin told CNN that between a pandemic slump in business, outsized medallion costs at $2,000 a month, and an extra $100 dollars a week spent on gas, he’s barely surviving. Mr. Chin, who has three children, worried “if I’m making enough money for them to go to college. Right now, I’m not making enough.”
Gas prices nationwide have already surpassed the record summer of 2008. In New York City, prices are even higher, currently listed at an average of $4.46 per gallon, according to AAA. Prices have jumped 7.9% over the past year and are expected to continue to rise in the highest climb since 1982. And in Hell’s Kitchen, prices at some of the city’s already-expensive stations were astronomical, standing at $5.89 per gallon for regular fuel and $6.48 per gallon for supreme at the Mobil on 11th Avenue and W51st Street.
NYC residents trying to avoid driving are not faring much better. Public transit, while cheaper, can be unfriendly and unreliable. Said leading carbon taxation and congestion pricing expert Charles Komanoff, there “is an absence of convenient and reliable alternatives: trains, buses, safe cycle routes. Overlapping with these is automobile-reliant land use, including NIMBY-enforced zoning that keeps homes in denser, transit-friendlier areas out of reach for most.” Hell’s Kitchen is far west of most subway lines and the scarcity of buses forces some residents into cars.
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For those New Yorkers waiting out the fuel crisis, it could be a significant time before things improve. President Joe Biden has noted that the rise in prices, which is tied to the cost of crude oil, could last as long as the confrontation in Ukraine. Russia represents 8% of the US foreign oil supply — to counteract the loss, the Biden administration has allocated 60 million barrels of oil from national reserves to lessen the impact of the price hike.
While the administration’s proposal to ban Russian oil was overwhelmingly voted forward by both Democrats and Republicans, several Republican lawmakers claimed that Biden had further exacerbated fuel costs by canceling the Keystone Pipeline XL. This was quickly refuted by experts, as Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for price-tracking GasBuddy told the New York Times: “COVID changed the game, not President Biden. US oil production fell in the last eight months of President Trump’s tenure. Is that his fault? No. The pandemic brought us to our knees.”
As the world segues from one financially-gouging crisis to another, some drivers had another perspective. Said Bronx residents Pat and John Grasso to CNN: “I’m willing to sacrifice higher prices and pay more, for the people who are suffering in the Ukraine.”