Gas prices around Philadelphia area

May 28, 2008 7:00:10 PM PDT
Those commuters who have not dumped the pump in favor of mass transit are facing ever-rising prices. Triple-A said the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded has hit another record high, of $3.94 a gallon. It's $3.97 in the Philadelphia metro area, $3.93 in Delaware and the cheapest is in South Jersey at $3.82.

But the prices within each state vary widely, even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

"The gas price is killing drivers," said one driver.

But some drivers still aren't shopping around.

"Where I go I buy gas. It's just high everywhere," said another frustrated consumer.

But there are differences in prices from neighborhood to neighborhood.

For instance, according to Triple-A, the average price of regular unleaded in South Philadelphia is $4.02 but in Northeast Philadelphia, it's six cents cheaper at $3.96!

A Sunoco in Haverford is charging $3.91. But a Sunoco in Conshohocken is charging $4.09!

"Gasoline refining companies actually map out areas and look at an areas affluence, location or simply what the market will bear and then they set the wholesale price for that zone. It might be different from one Exxon than it is from another Exxon," said Catherine Rossi of Triple-A.

The practice is called zone pricing. Oil companies charge different gas stations different wholesale prices. The gas stations are then forced to pass along that cost to you, sometimes just to make pennies in profit.

"Zone pricing is controversial. It's a secret map, none of us has it, AAA doesn't have it. The refining industry sets the parameters on the zones and recently a leg group in Maryland decided there should be a task force to look at zone pricing," Rossi said.

For now check the prices of gas in various neighborhoods along your route before you head out.

By the way, we did reach out to one of the largest oil refiners in our area. Sunoco wouldn't tell us its formula for zone pricing. It simply said it does price competitively.

Other areas with cheaper average prices:
Lansdale, Montgomery County = $3.93
Pottstown, Montgomery County = $3.94

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