A group of 75 New Jersey gas stations planned to cut their prices by as much as 20 cents a gallon on Friday in order to build support for a bogged-down effort to allow self-service gas in the Garden State.
The one-day publicity campaign arrives as gasoline prices in New Jersey and across the nation rise to new heights just weeks ahead of Memorial Day and the unofficial start of the summer driving season.
Average state gas prices were $4.49 a gallon as of Thursday, according to a report by AAA, the national driving club, up from around $3.03 a gallon a year ago.
New Jersey is the only state that completely prohibits drivers from pumping their own gas, but a bid to lift the 73-year-old ban has been a hard sell among both elected officials and the public.
Motorists still won’t be able to pump their own gas on Friday, but the Fuel Your Way NJ coalition said it’s Self-Serve Day of Awareness will show drives just how much they could save if such an option were available.
“With the cost of gas prices continuing to rise, it’s taking a bigger and bigger bite out of people’s wallets,” said Sal Risalvato, president of the New Jersey Gasoline and C-Store Association, which is organizing the campaign and pushing legislation in Trenton to allow self-service.
“We want the public to know that one of the quickest ways we can reduce gas prices is to allow gas stations the ability to offer self-serve in New Jersey,” he said.
Some economists question the potential savings, noting that any savings in labor costs from getting rid of gas-station attendants could be countered by rising insurance costs for fuel providers. Pump prices are largely determined by tax policies and the global oil market, critics have said.
But Risalvato on Thursday estimated that the cost of a gallon of gas at the 75 participating gas stations would drop by 10 to 15 cents for the day, representing the cost of labor per gallon for pumping gas.
Costs will vary across different locations, and some could shave off as much as 20 cents a gallon, he said. As of Thursday, the price of crude oil was pegged at over $105 a barrel.
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According to the coalition’s announcement, participating stations will give motorists a facsimile of a $100 bill, which the campaign says will represent the $100 to $400 drivers could save on their gas bill every year.
New Jersey lawmakers including state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, have been skeptical of the promises from self-serve proponents. Scutari vowed to block the proposed legislation earlier this year, effectively killing it.
Gov. Phil Murphy’s office did not comment for this story. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, a gatekeeper for any proposals in the Legislature’s lower house, said in a statement that he’s “thoughtfully exploring a host of legislative solutions.”
Oregon, the most recent state that had a total ban on self-serve gas, saw no change in its gas prices once its prohibition was partially lifted in 2015.
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A Rutgers poll in March found that 73% of New Jerseyans were in favor of having their gas pumped for them, versus 22% of respondents who said they’d prefer to do it themselves. But Risalvato argued the survey didn’t represent the compromise that his group favors: allowing self-serve but keeping a full-service option as well.
Monmouth University last month found just over half of state residents want a self-service choice, while two-thirds still want the option of having someone else to pump their gas for them.
Here’s a run-down of stations participating in the campaign on Friday:
- Exxon, 142 Chestnut Ridge Rd., Montvale
- North Arlington Gulf, 101 Ridge Rd., Montvale
- Exxon, 782 Route 17 North, Paramus
- Valero, 639 Route 17 North, Paramus
- Exxon, 100 Route 17 North, Paramus
- Sunoco, 456 Route 17 North, Ramsey
- Berlin P66, 201 White Horse Pike, Berlin
- Amoco, 2 Marlton Pike West, Cherry Hill
- West Berlin Delta, 250 North Route 72, West Berlin
Cape May County
- Cape Harbor Auto Repair, 795 Route 109, Cape May
- Livingston Sunoco, 247 S. Livingston Ave., Livingston
- Exxon, 264 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair
- Exxon 625 McCarter Highway, Newark
- Lukeoil, 335 McCarter Highway, Newark
- Exxon, 550 Eagle Rock Ave., Roseland
- Glassboro Delta, 100 Delsea Drive, Glassboro
- Bayonne Tiger Mart, 529 Kennedy Blvd. Bayonne
- Willow Sunoco, 1301 Willow Ave., Hoboken
- Lukoil, 200 12th St., Jersey City
- Shell, 164 14th St., Jersey City
- Gold Coast Petro Sunoco, 588 Manila Ave., Jersey City
- Newport Exxon, 245 12th St., Jersey City
- BP, 235 12th St., Jersey City
- Sunoco, 465 Grand St., Jersey City
- Exxon, 450 Route 3 West, Secaucus
- Newport Valero, 193 14th St., Jersey City
- Exxon Holland Tunnel Service Center, 597 Marin Blvd., Jersey City
- Califon Exxon, 429 County Road 513, Califon
- Hampton BP, 238 Route 31 North, Hampton
- Lebanon Route 22 Sunoco, 1370 Route 22 West, Lebanon
- Lebanon Sunoco, 1237 Route 31, Lebanon
- Lebanon BP, 1201 Route 31 South, Lebanon
- Liberty Mart, 118 Route 22/Route 31 North, Ringoes
- Lukoil, 2558 Pennington Road, Penington
- Lukoil, 3513 Route 1 South, Princeton
- Exxon, 270 W. Inman Ave., Colonia
- East Brunswick Sunoco, 784 Route 18, East Brunswick
- Ultra Mart, 3875 Park Ave., Edison
- Exxon, 1441 Route 1 South, Edison
- Exxon, Garden State Parkway, North Colonia
- Exxon, Garden State Parkway, South Iselin
- BP, 2401 Route 9 North, Old Bridge
- Lukoil, 152 Old New Brunswick Road, Piscataway
- Zackria Fuel, 4501 Stelton Rd., South Plainfield
- South River BP, 258 Old Bridge Turnpike, South River
- Aberdeen Exxon, 1164 Route 34, Aberdeen
- BP, 44 South St., Freehold
- Hazlet Shell, 1355 Route 36, Hazlet
- Matawan Sunoco, 323 Route 34, Matawan
- Middletown BP, 863 Highway 35, Middletown
- Monmouth Road BP, 373 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch
- Denville Route 46 Sunoco, 161 W. Main St., Denville
- Long Valley P66, 43 East Mill Rd., Long Valley
- Peapack Sunoco, 28 U.S Highway 206, Peapack
- Randolph BP, 260 South Salem St., Randolph
- Whippany Lukeoil, 1235 Route 10, Whippany
- Exxon, 600 Brick Blvd., Brick
- Exxon, 181 Drum Point Road, Brick
- Exxon, 1444 Highway 88, Lakewood
- Kelly’s Sea Bay Sunoco, Route 35 North, Lavallette
- Shell, 1350 Route 9 South, Toms River
- Exxon, 13 Route 37 East, Toms River
- Exxon, 468 Haldon Ave., Haledon
- Exxon, 716 Goffle Rd., Hawthorne
- Exxon, 1431 Route 23 South, Wayne
- Somerset Hills Exxon, 545 Martinsville Rd., Basking Ridge
- Exxon, 1101 Easton Ave., Somerset
- Peapack Sunoco, 28 Route 206, Peapack
- Exxon, 162 Central Ave., Clark
Source: Asbury Park