Local News

Could Rising Gas Prices Could Bring Changes in Transportation?

Americans are currently facing record-high gas prices due to inflation as well as the U.S. government’s embargo on Russian oil due to the war in Ukraine. Gas stations in Fullerton have been no exception to this rise of gas prices, and many Fullertonians have had to deal with the ramifications.

At the ARCO gas station on the corner of Imperial Highway and Associated Road in north Fullerton, where gas prices recently ranged from $5.59 a gallon for unleaded gas to $5.99 for unleaded premium gas, consumers shared their frustrations about high gas prices with the Observer.

“It’s outrageous,” an Arco customer said who only identified himself as Nick, though he said he understood the reasoning behind the Biden Administration’s ban on Russian oil.

Photo by Anthony Robert.

Another Arco customer, Donald Huylur, added, “I feel that gas companies are taking advantage of us,” He said he believed the Ukraine crisis was nothing more than a pretext to hike gas prices, and that he had chosen Arco due to its relatively cheap prices compared to other gas stations.

California’s politicians have clearly noticed such complaints. Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a $11 billion plan, including a partial suspension of the State’s gas tax as well as a $400 rebate for State residents who own a car, with the rebate even applying per-car for up to two vehicles. If passed, the plan would take effect as soon as July.

To assist with the high gas prices, local public transit agencies are stepping in to help people in Fullerton and other Southern California residents deal with the crisis with more options. Even if Newsom’s proposal doesn’t pass (which would also grant Californians three months of free public transit) agencies are now offering a bevy of discounts.

For example, OCTA has been offering discounts to riders to help off set the gas prices with their current $5 day pass being less than the cost of a gallon of gas, the agency stated in a press release. Specifically, riders can get five day passes for the cost of only $15, which would be a 40% discount. The agency also said that Orange County youth between the ages of 6 and 18 years old can ride transit for free, which could make up an estimated 1.7 million trips.

Other local transit agencies are offering their services as a solution to rising gas prices. Local commuter rail system Metrolink has seen its ridership reach 13,000 daily weekday boardings, the highest the system has reached since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, said Scott Johnson, the agency’s Director of Communications. Johnson, who attributes such gains both to the high gas prices as well as the revival of in-person work, also said, “We have seen nearly a 70% recovery on weekend ridership. People are looking for a way to avoid high gas prices, traffic, and the cost of parking.”

To meet the increasing demand, Metrolink will add 26 trains to its schedule, with four being added to the 91/Perris Valley and Orange County Lines, which both serve Fullerton’s Metrolink station.

Consumers have also turned to electric cars as a solution to rising gas prices. Last year, according to KSBY News, California became the first state in the U.S. to have at least one million registered electric vehicles, and their sales numbers in the State are expected to rise 37% from 500,000 in 2021 to 670,000 by the end of 2022, according to AutoPacific.

Ultimately, time will tell if this phenomenon will lead to larger effects in the form of lasting changes in the habits of Fullerton residents, whether it be in transportation or views on policy and politics.

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