Friday, April 28, 2006

Let's talk about pumping your own gas

Let's talk about the Gov's plan to introduce pump-your-own.

It's all over the papers this morning- Corzine wants a three-month pilot program for the Turnpike for pumping our own gas, to see if it will really save us 5-6 cents a gallon.

The governor has other ideas too, including possibly lowering the speed limit back to 55 in order for us to be more efficient in our gas usage, allowing hybrids to use HOV lanes, gas card incentives for carpoolers and NJ transit rider incentives. From the Times of Trenton:
Corzine last week created the post of director of energy savings to increase energy efficiency in state operations. In a symbolic move, he plans to trade the state-owned SUV he is chauffeured around in for a more fuel-efficient vehicle after working through security concerns with the state police, he said.
"We're serious about trying to hold down consumption. The nation's going to have to do it. New Jersey has to do it, and we are going to have to do this as individuals," he said.

Wow, personal responsibility and reduction of consumption. Wouldn't that be great? But I digress...

The arguments are pretty obvious on both sides. It's incredibly convenient to drive up to a service station in the rain and have the attendant do the work for you. It's incredibly inconvenient to drive up to a service station and wait fifteen minutes until the attendant can get to you, and then an extra five minutes if you pay by credit card for the attendant to process payment. It's unfair to seniors and disabled drivers if they have to pay more for full-serve. It's a job for a worker in Our Fair State, but he has to breathe in all those fumes for 8-12 hours a day.

Let's face it- the driver safety issue that was a big deal in 1949 when this law was enacted is long gone. Forty-eight states allow their drivers to pump their own gas. Since gas prices jumped 14 cents a gallon on the toll roads this morning, I bet we'll try anything.

But the real question is, will a change to our gas-pumping rules really change the price? Will it make a damn bit of difference?

My personal guess is- no, not really, or maybe in the beginning but not for long. Gas station owners set the price for their gas, and they get what they can for it. They have the confines of what they paid for the gas, overhead, and-big one here- competition. After a while prices will creep back to essentially the same level.

What do you think?

(Cross-posted at Bluejersey.net)

5 comments:

Rob S. said...

I doubt it'll lower prices much, except maybe in the short run. But I *do* think it'll give the bigger stations an even further advantage over the small ones. Small stations can run with only one person staffing at night; if self-pump goes through, they won't really be able to make any significant cuts. Stations with more pumps need lots of attendants now, but they won't if self-pump goes through.

Sharon GR said...

Check out what the Contrarian has to say about it here.

Brenda said...

WHERE'S MY SOAPBOX!!
I am so against the idea of self serve gas stations. I know 48 states have it but it's not really helping them out. Prices in many of those states are higher than ours. The way I see it, whatever the station saves in staffing they'll end up paying in higher insurance fees because of morons who stand at the pumps with a lit cigarette hanging out of their mouth. Even if the stations are able to save a buck do you think it'll be passed on to the consumer? Hell, no. The precedent has already been set. They already know what we're willing to shell out for gas.

Let's also talk further about the disabled citzens who can't get out to pump. They'll have to go further to find a full serve station and propably end up paying even higher prices then we have now. Those are exactly the fixed income people who can't afford it.

What about mommies? I many self serve places you need to go inside the store to pay first or have the pump unlocked or whatever. What if you have a small child in an infant seat. You can't leave the baby in the car.

I drive a lot. I fill up twice a week. I never had to wait 15 minutes for an attendant. If I get crappy service from a station I drive away and find one with better service. Lord knows there are plenty around.

I just don't see how self-serve is going to help. I don't see this as a solution.

cherkeysix said...

It is not a question of "Will we pay less for gas?" Nor is it a question of which is more convenient for the customer, pumping his/her own quickly without waiting or sitting comfortably while another does it for you. It is a question of freedom versus prohibition. If we are to live in a free society, then a gas station that wishes to offer self-serve gas has a right to do just that. Anything else is the state taking the right of an individual to offer a service and depriving the right of an individual to take advantage of a service. If you want to be a totalitarian and lazy, then keep supporting prohibition and ban of acts of freedom. But you should at least know who you are and what you are for, not freedom, but totalitarianism.

cherkeysix said...

It is not a question of "Will we pay less for gas?" Nor is it a question of which is more convenient for the customer, pumping his/her own quickly without waiting or sitting comfortably while another does it for you. It is a question of freedom versus prohibition. If we are to live in a free society, then a gas station that wishes to offer self-serve gas has a right to do just that. Anything else is the state taking the right of an individual to offer a service and depriving the right of an individual to take advantage of a service. If you want to be a totalitarian and lazy, then keep supporting prohibition and ban of acts of freedom. But you should at least know who you are and what you are for, not freedom, but totalitarianism.