NEW YORK—As gas prices continue to rise, state Sen. Eric Adams and Assemblyman David Weprin are collaborating to introduce new legislation to curb gas price gouging and to protect motorists from unfair gas hikes.
The average price of regular gas last September was $2.81 per gallon. On Sunday afternoon, a gallon of regular gas at the Mobil gas station on West 14th Street at 10th Avenue, where Adams and Weprin held a press conference, cost $4.21. A gallon of premium gas at Mobil cost $4.45.
The proposed legislation would make it compulsory for all gas stations to post the sign, “If you suspect price gouging by a gas station or the watering down of gas, you should call the consumer protection number to report that,” Weprin said. Gas stations would be required to post this sign in a visible location where all customers could see it.
“We are highlighting the high price of gas, and we want the state government to play a major part to ensure that there is no price gouging and to ensure that people are getting the product they are paying for—that it doesn’t have water content,” elaborated Adams.
“Consumers don’t know what the price of gas should be, and you have a wide disparity between prices among stations even right next to each other,” said Weprin. “There is no justification for one gas station … to charge a difference of 30-40 cents [compared to another gas station in the same neighborhood],” he added. He gave an example of a gas station in Queens that charges over $4.00 per gallon when other stations in the same region charge around $3.50.
“I think it [gas pricing] is a statewide issue, because people upstate rely on their cars even more than [people in] the city,” Weprin added.
Adams stated that the added protections are needed “so people can’t exploit the conflict in the Middle East.”
“We want to make sure that we keep our eyes on the pump and do not allow people to exploit and price gouge or to add contents into gas,” he said.
The recent price increase has not really affected New Yorker Karl Shaw, an accessories designer. “I live in the city, so I don’t really drive that much. It is relatively cheap in the U.S., compared to Europe and other parts of the world,” he said.
“Obviously we don’t like the fact that it [gas price] has gone up, but it doesn’t affect us as much as [it would] someone who would need their car for work everyday. We use primarily public transportation,” said another car owner.
While most car owners who were refueling their cars on Sunday were not really feeling the pinch yet, since they typically use public transport during the week, New York City taxi drivers were telling a different story.
When asked, most taxi drivers stated that the recent increase in gas prices is affecting them detrimentally. One taxi driver, Mahamat, added: “But the hybrid car is very good right now. It’s saving a lot.”
Another taxi driver, Sarwar Ahmed, reported that his fuel costs have doubled. He stated that he used to pay $20 to $24 per shift, but is now “paying $40 to 45 per shift.”
Consumers are encouraged to contact the Consumer Protection Board if they believe that gas stations are overcharging, or if the quality of gas is questionable.