Photo by Melinda Dudley
The Yampa Conoco had the highest prices for unleaded and diesel fuel in Routt County Saturday. Ever-rising gasoline prices are paining South Routt commuters.
South Routt Between Steamboat Springs and South Routt, there's roughly a 1,000-foot gain in elevation - and a 14-cent average gain in the price of a gallon of gas.
While it's nickels and dimes by the gallon, the price difference amounts to a few dollars with each fill-up. Factoring in the frequent fill-ups required for those who make the roughly 50-mile round-trip commute to Steamboat and the ever-escalating prices of fuel, the punch to South Routt pocketbooks becomes even harder.
"This is the most I've ever paid for gas," Megan Moore-Kemp saidwhile washing her car windows at Yampa Conoco on Saturday.
At $4.50 a gallon for 85 octane Saturday, Yampa Conoco had the highest gas prices in Routt County. Steamboat Springs gas stations averaged $4.31 that day, and a gallon of unleaded was going for $4.35 in Hayden.
"I'm a big supporter of local businesses, but I fill up in Steamboat whenever I can," Moore-Kemp said.
The statewide average fuel price was $4.08 on Saturday, down from the national average by one cent, according to AAA.
In Oak Creek, the only people who seem to fill up in town are those who work in town, said Julie Rubalcaba at the town's Sinclair station. Anyone who can fill up in Steamboat, does, she said.
"We get a lot more people coming in and saying, 'I only want $10 worth.' You get a lot more pre-pays," she said.
Lower cost of living is one thing that attracts people to live in South Routt, but if fuel costs continue to rise, the commute will have greater impact on the supposed savings, Rubalcaba said.
In the spring, Rubalcaba commuted daily to Steamboat and drove on her job, often putting in 150 miles each day. Even with some mileage reimbursement, she decided it wasn't worth it anymore and now works in Oak Creek, she said.
According to preliminary results from the South Routt transit feasibility study prepared in May, 46 percent of South Routt drivers travel to Steamboat Springs at least five times a week. Another 20 percent make the trip two to four times per week.
In its examinations, the feasibility study assumed a then-current gas price of $3.45 a gallon. Less than three months later, the cost of fuel is up another dollar and isn't expected to back down.
Fuel prices aren't just increasing the bill customers pay at the pump; they also are raising the price of nearly everything else consumers buy at Sinclair, Rubalcaba said.
"Since gas prices have gone up, delivery fees have gone up, so the prices of everything inside has gone up, too," Rubalcaba said. "It's affecting us on all sides, as consumers and as a business."
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