Gas Prices Drift Lower, But Truckers Still Feel More Pinch At Pump

The price of gas at Shell stations in Florida is considerably higher than the regional average. Shell has the contract for the gas stations on Florida's Turnpike.
The price of gas at Shell stations in Florida is considerably higher than the regional average. Shell has the contract for the gas stations on Florida’s Turnpike. Photo taken July 29, 2013.

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas slipped about four cents per gallon in the past week, according to the weekly pricing survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, but the offset was hardly noticeable in some cities, where the price of gas kept going higher despite the numbers reflected in government pricing surveys.

In fact, Shell Oil, which has the contract for the service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike, had some of the highest prices for gasoline in the South Florida Metro Area, including Fort Lauderdale, where some stations were charging more than $3.80 per gallon, even though the average for Gulf Coast and Lower Atlantic states is more than 30¢ per gallon cheaper.

Conversely, in New Jersey, where pricing controls are in place, and tied to the consumer-based Lundberg Survey, the current price gas is $3.61 per gallon, which is below the EIA survey price for the East Coast U.S.

The pain at the pump comes into focus when comparing prices to one year ago, when the average cost of a gallon of gas was hovering around the $3.50 range. Right now, the average U.S. gas price is about $3.65 per gallon, although that number is down from last week.

Diesel fuel pump icon
Weekly diesel price survey

For truckers, the price if diesel kept rising during the past week, with the average per gallon price, nationwide, now at about $3.92. In some states, particularly on the U.S. West Coast, the price is well above $4.00 per gallon. New England states also saw diesel prices keep rising above the 4-dollar mark.

Interestingly, the pricing charts for crude oil and gasoline closely mirror each other, primarily because of the way fuel distributors’ accounting practice, which reflects a “last in, first out” inventory pricing policy. That strategy accounts – no pun intended – for the fact fuel distributors charge more for gasoline the moment crude oil prices begin to spike. The cost of existing inventories, which may have been less expensive, are not typically part of the immediate pricing equation.



Florida and North Carolina Tag Team on SunPass and Quick Pass

Sunpass MiniFlorida’s Turnpike will now accept the North Carolina Quick Pass for payment on Florida’s Turnpike, it was announced today. Conversely, Florida’s SunPass can now be used to pay tolls on the Triangle Expressway in the North Carolina Research Triangle Park region. The announcement was made by both states’ Departments of Transportation in what had been an expected union of the two electronic tolling systems.

One of the frequent questions visitors to have is why E-ZPass and other state electronic toll devices do not work in Florida. Dianne Gutierrez-Scaccetti, the exective director of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, wrote in a news release, “Interoperability between SunPass and electronic toll systems in other states is something we’ve bee diligently working toward for some time.”

The North Carolina tolling system participates in the broader E-ZPass electronic toll system, which covers states across the entire middle and upper Atlantic regions, New England, and the Midwest. Until now, Florida had never participated in any interstate electronic tolling system.

Connecting with North Carolina is a likely first step in Florida becoming part of the larger E-ZPass network at a time when the state is making significant technology upgrades to its toll roads and toll collection systems. Florida’s Turnpike Extension, located in Miami-Dade County, became the first leg of the turnpike system, in the Sunshine State, to become an all-electronic tolling system.  However, no timetable has yet been posted detailing when SunPass might be accepted in other states or when E-ZPass, particularly from states like New York and New Jersey, might be accepted in Florida.