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supply and The Man

By enelson
Tuesday, June 13th, 2006 at 3:27 pm in Misc. Transportation.

I was locking up my bicycle at the train station this morning when I got a call that would clue me in on the whole gasoline-price conspiracy.

It was my son, and he’d forgotten the printout of the revised French poem he was supposed to turn in this morning. His voice was a hoarse, desperate, whisper. It was clear that Mom shouldn’t be involved, or else there’d be major groveling involved.


It was also clear that I wasn’t getting on Amtrak, and my teenager ought to be thanking the commuting gods that the Honda Civic happened to be parked in front of my house, and not in Oakland.

So what’s this got to do with gas prices? Well, riding the Capitol Corridor, I don’t tend to dwell too much on gas prices, except when I’m trying to justify the $255-a-month I spend on train tickets.

But today, I missed the train and had to drive to work, which is how I found myself doing a quick-n-dirty gasoline price survey in Vacaville, of all places.

You see, we have a Costco membership, and the store is almost famous for selling low-priced gasoline to members on their way out of the parking lot with a five-pound bags of tortilla chips and cases of “sports water.”

But alas, my wife had the membership card, and I was out of luck, or so it seemed. OK, so gas prices in the Central Valley are a good bit lower than the Bay Area already, so you’re probably saying, “what’s to complain about?”

Except that elsewhere along I-80 in the Valley, one could have expected to pay nearly $3.20 a gallon for gas, about 10 cents less than you’d pay in the East Bay.

In Vacaville, however, I found Chevron and Valero stations selling the stuff for $3.01 a gallon. Why? I’d venture a guess that it’s because Costco sells the stuff for just under $3 a gallon.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to compare prices near Costcos across the state. Are they much lower than elsewhere? That might be an indication of just how much the price of oil and trucking have to do with how gasoline prices are set.

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