A San Francisco gas station is selling unleaded fuel for under $5 a gallon, and gig-economy motorists are driving from miles around to fill up there.
Uber driver Blanca Rivas regularly drives from her home in Pacifica, roughly 15 miles away, to fill up at the Arco on Mission and 14th streets for a price San Francisco drivers haven’t seen since the beginning of the year: $4.95 per gallon, if you pay in cash.
Rivas has been an Uber driver for four years and says gas this cheap is impossible to find in Pacifica.
The Mission boasts some of the cheapest gas prices in San Francisco, with two gas stations offering below $5 per gallon and several more hovering at just above the $5 mark.
At the same time, gas stations in Downtown and above Market Street were clocking in at nearly $6, according to data from GasBuddy.
Declining gas prices means drivers have a higher likelihood of overpaying, said Patrick De Haan, a GasBuddy petroleum analyst. GasBuddy is an app that helps motorists find better deals on the price of a gallon.
“Motorists need to be more in tune when prices are going down,” he said. “A lot of stations don’t lower prices as quickly. When gas prices are going down, motorists are lured into a false sense of security.”
That means gas price variability around town will increase, with some neighborhoods benefiting from more competition between stations.
“Gas stations have an incredibly wide latitude with their pricing,” he said. “Some stations and areas just get very competitive.”
The price decline is good news for Californians, where issues with the state’s gas refineries earlier in this summer resulted in lower supply—and in turn the most expensive gas in the nation. Those refinery issues have since been corrected, and he expects California gas prices to continue to fall, De Haan said.
But despite the recent price decline, the San Francisco metro area still has the 5th highest gas prices in the nation, behind San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, San Rafael and Salinas counties, according to GasBuddy.
And De Haan said that diesel in California is still expensive, which won’t affect most consumers directly but will have downstream pricing effects on other goods.
“With the winter season coming up, diesel prices are projected to remain a substantial premium to gasoline, which means it will cost more for groceries because it will cost trucks more to fill their tanks,” he said.
Still, residents around San Francisco celebrated the return of gas costing less than $5.
“Hell yeah [it’s saving me money]. It’s not saving me a lot but it’s saving me,” said G, who was filling up his tank at the Arco on Mission and 14th and declined to give a full name.
Joe Burn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org