Brooklyn drivers feeling pain at the pump

Things haven’t been easy lately for Sunset Park merchant Bob Smith. With gas prices topping $4 a gallon this month, the owner of Gil and Bob’s Jacoby Auto Parts at 6118 Fourth Avenue has been shelling out more than ever to travel between work and home in Laurelton, Queens.

To make matters worse, he says, the extra money drivers are spending at the pump is stopping them from shopping at his store. As a result, he estimates his business is down by 25 percent.

“For sure, there is less traffic around,” Smith said. “And that’s basically attributed to the price of gas.”

According to the American Automobile Association’s Daily Fuel Gauge

“I see a big difference in what I’m paying for this van,” said Avi Kramer, a driver for Subrose at 4413 15th Avenue. “It’s like $100 a tank.”

Citywide gas prices are also currently 30 cents higher than the national average, a statistic Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations for American Automobile Association New York

“The northeast is a hotspot for higher prices because of refinery capacity,” Sinclair said. “Two in the Philadelphia region closed down recently and one on St. Croix, owned by Hess and the Venezuelan government, also shut down. With less refinery capacity, there is less gas on the market, meaning higher gas prices.”

Given the circumstances, Bay Ridge resident America Wharton thinks it’s time for U.S. politicians to start regulating prices more aggressively.

“We can’t fix everything, but it has to come from the government,” Wharton said.

Community Board 10 member Khader El-Yateem agrees that the U.S. government needs to do something.

“International politics continue to affect us locally with the price of oil,” El-Yateem said. “Hopefully [the U.S.] can find a diplomatic solution so our lives over here won’t be affected by what’s happening overseas.”

He feels state politicians should also work to lower gas prices.

“What we can do locally is work with elected officials to try to decrease taxes on the price of oil,” El-Yateem said. “You see the difference between New York and New Jersey is often 50 cents a gallon.”

However, Sinclair says things will most likely get worse before they get better.

“We think upward pressure on prices will continue until mid-April,” he said.

It’s a possibility that worries Manuel Gil, a driver for Sunset Park car service Puebla Express.

“They say [gas] might be even more in the summer, that it might be five dollars a gallon,” Gil said. “The poor people, the working people, pay the consequence.”

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