Holt residents reluctant to stop driving despite rising gas prices

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By Maddie Fetchiet
Holt Journal Staff Writer

HOLT — Despite rising prices at the pump, Holt residents are reluctant to change their driving patterns.Gas prices are rising all over the United States with prices reaching and exceeding $4 per gallon. Many cities in Michigan already have seen pump prices exceed $4 per gallon, but even so, drivers are not yet convinced to change their habits.

Nancy Cain, public relations director for AAA in Michigan, says gas prices in the Metro Detroit area are averaging $3.94 per gallon, but cities like Traverse City have seen prices reach $3.99.

“It is likely we will hit $4 for the average. Some stations in the state already hit $4. Generally, prices are lower in cities with less gas stations,” Cain said.

Gas stations in Holt are seeing prices near $4.

The Sunoco station at Holt and Aurelius roads sold unleaded fuel that you pump yourself for $3.88 on March 15, making it one of the cheapest stations at the time.

However, this Sunoco is a full-service gas station, causing prices to increase because an employee pumps the gas. Unleaded gas sold for $3.88 now costs $3.94 once the full-service price is added on.

According to Sunoco manager Craig Bowman, his station usually follows “the big guys” like Speedway gas stations when it comes to pricing. He also says because their station is full-service, the price of unleaded gas is raised about 6 cents to compensate for the service, but usually not more.

Although gas prices are nearing $4, Bowman says he hasn’t noticed a decline in business, but he has noticed that residents are making minor changes to their fill-up habits.

“Very few people fill the tank, they just get enough to get by,” Bowman said.

According to Cain, a survey conducted by AAA showed that 84% of Michigan drivers have changed their driving habits, however some Holt drivers seem resistant to change so suddenly.

Nathan Reker of Holt says the rising gas prices have not yet challenged him enough to reconsider driving, and that driving a fuel-efficient car helps him save.

“I have a 2010 Chevy Cobalt that gets 33 miles to the gallon on the highway so I don’t have to fill often, only about every two weeks,” Reker said. “But if gas prices rose so high that they inconvenienced me, I’d probably start driving less.”

Karla Handziak, another Holt resident, had an opposite problem.

“We have two cars to fill up and my husband is a truck driver. We have a Ford pick-up and a Chevy Malibu, so it costs about $60 just to fill the Ford,” Handziak said.

Still, Handziak notes her family has not needed to completely change its driving patterns, but to save money she often seeks out the cheaper stations in town such as Speedway and the Kroger gas station.

On March 16, the Speedway on Cedar Street, along with the Kroger gas station on Cedar Street listed unleaded gas prices at $3.99 per gallon.

While some Holt residents seem unaffected by the rise in fuel prices, the gas station employees have seen a change.

A customer service representative for the Speedway on Cedar Street, who was restricted from giving her name by company policy, said their station switched to pre-pay pumps to prevent customers from stealing gas.

“We were losing about $1,000 a month because people would drive off without paying,” the Speedway employee said.

Prices at the pump are going to continue to rise according to Cain, but she says there are ways to avoid breaking the bank just to drive.

“If you can, carpool. Combining errands and routes for max use of fuel economy can help, and there is always public transit,” Cain said. “If we think conservatively to improve fuel economy, we can save money.”