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Gas prices in the US – some observations

While we in Ireland are relatively used to increasing petrol and diesel prices here, those in the US are finding things a lot harder with prices rising higher/faster than they’ve ever experienced. All this has caused some predictable, and some unforeseen issues over there:

  • According to an article in the New York Times, available here, because of the age of some gas pumps, some gas stations are having to charge by the half-gallon rather than by the gallon. This apparently is because these old pumps cannot provide numbers larger than $3.99. So, if the price goes above that, the half the price and charge by the half-gallon.
  • Linked from that article above is this great “heat map” of gas prices in the United States. You can click here to see the map on the New York City Gas Prices website. Driving holidays in California don’t look like they’ll be as good value as we might have thought in the past.
  • This article from Kansas City, available here, tells us that an expert says that 2% of gas pumps in the state of Missouri may be inaccurate. This was highlighted by a gas customer who was charged for 5 1/3 gallons of gas when they filled a 5 gallon can.

This last point is of interest to me, and my interest in conspiracy theories. Have you noticed that with the increase in petrol prices here in Ireland, it can sometimes take the same amount of time to buy €20 or €30 of petrol now than it did years ago – even though you’re getting less actual petrol in your tank. My conspiracy theory – they’re messing around with the flow rate of petrol pumps 🙂 Makes you feel like you’re still getting the same amount of petrol for your money, even though you’re not.

In Ireland, we have a service called the Legal Metrology Service who are responsible for checking that the petrol pumps in the country are delivering the correct volume according to the metre on the pump – i.e. to make sure that the Missouri example doesn’t happen. Petrol pumps are supposed to be checked regularly and each pump should be marked with the date upon which it was last checked for accuracy. All I can find on how often pumps should be checked is “from time to time” which wouldn’t instill much confidence.

The Legal Metrology Service are also responsible for checking taximeters, measures in pubs, and the accuracy of where weighing scales wherever used.

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