NC drivers choose between long lines or high costs after gas prices surge

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wait in a long line or pay more for gas? That’s the decision drivers are now having to make.

As of Monday afternoon, 51 percent of North Carolina gas stations were still without fuel, according to Gas Buddy. It meant many drivers were still having a hard time finding fuel.

“People got to go to work. People got to go to school. It’s just been line here, line there. You just gotta find the shortest line you can,” said Milton Brown while fueling up in Raleigh.

Monday’s shortest line cost him $3.19 a gallon. The average price per gallon in North Carolina was $2.93.

“It’s definitely too much but they know you got to have it so, you gotta have it,” said Brown.

Today prices are up 20 or 30 cents from a month ago and $1.22 from a year ago, according to figures from AAA.

Monday average fuel prices per gallon:

  • Fayetteville: $2.91, up 13 cents per gallon from last week
  • Durham: $2.96, up 13 cents per gallon from last week
  • Raleigh: $2.95, up 34 cents per gallon from last week

“Even though they shoot up overnight, they don’t tend to fall overnight,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA spokesperson.

Wright said this has been the history and trend for gas prices. She said they shoot up like a rocket and fall like a feather. There is no specific explanation for this, she told CBS 17.

Prices have surged for a number of reasons. Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season so that was going to drive up prices alone. On top of that, the state’s reopening is increasing fuel demand from people now leaving their home more often.

The Colonial Pipeline’s shutdown then created the perfect conditions for a bad situation.

“We knew availability was going to be an issue. We didn’t think it was going to be this accelerated. And what accelerated it was the panic buying,” said Wright.

“It used to be toilet paper. Now it’s gasoline,” said driver Tim Cherry. He had enough fuel in his tank last week and was waiting for lines to get under control before trying to fill up.

While prices are higher than many feel comfortable with, people have to get places and they need the fuel.

“I didn’t look at the price. I just wanted to fill the tank up,” said Cherry.

At this point, AAA said it’s impossible to know how much higher prices will climb or for how much longer.

“For now, higher gas prices are in the foreseeable future,” Wright said.

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