By STEVE BITTENBENDER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — New York’s gas tax holiday started Wednesday, but there was little cause for celebration.
Instead of seeing prices drop by at least 16 cents per gallon, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded increased slightly from $4.927 on Tuesday to a record $4.934 Wednesday. That’s according to price tracking from the American Automobile Association.
The record price surpassed the average from a week ago when New York drivers paid an average of $4.931 per gallon. Wednesday’s price is nearly 60 cents, or 13.3%, higher than the $4.341 drivers paid a month ago.
New Yorkers are paying more than 26 cents per gallon above the national average, but it could be worse. While they’re paying more than others on the East Coast, eight states have higher averages. That includes Illinois, where regular unleaded costs $5.131, and California, where drivers pay more than $6 a gallon.
Across New York state,, the highest average price for a gallon is in Manhattan, where drivers are paying $5.406. That’s nearly 40 cents more than what it costs drivers in New York City’s other four boroughs.
On the other side of the state, in western New York, drivers in Cattaraugus County are paying the lowest rate. But that $4.687 still surpasses the national average of $4.671.
The cost to fuel up, a AAA spokesman said, is getting to levels where many drivers are saying they’ll have to make tough choices.
“So far, the pent-up urge to travel caused by the pandemic outweighs high pump prices for many consumers,” AAA’s Andrew Gross said Tuesday. “But 67% of drivers recently surveyed told us they would change their driving habits if gas hit $4.50 a gallon. That number rises to 75% at $5 a gallon. If pump prices keep rising, will people alter their summer travel plans? That remains to be seen.”
It also remains to be seen what impact the gas tax holiday will have on New York prices. The suspension of 16 cents in gas taxes will last through the end of the calendar year. On Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that 25 counties have elected to implement their own tax holiday to help drivers.
The state estimates the holiday will provide nearly $610 million in relief.
“At a time when families are struggling because of economic headwinds and inflation, we will continue to take bold action to reduce the economic burden on New Yorkers and get money back in their pockets,” GOv. Hochul said.