David Cruz gassed up his truck Thursday at Pima and Chaparral roads on the border of Scottsdale and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Cruz never even checked the tab. It was $3.02 per gallon.
“It’s a company vehicle, so I don’t pay much attention. But my wife gripes all the time,” he said.
Scottsdale led the Valley in gas prices again this week, finally crossing the $3 mark for regular after a 7-cent per-gallon rise in just the last week.
Pump prices in other East Valley cities seemed almost a bargain at $2.95, a penny less than the statewide average.
But even that added up to 8 cents more than the national average.
And local prices show no inclination to slow their meteoric rise on the 11th week in a row for increases.
AAA Arizona doesn’t predict the eventual peak price, said Linda Gorman, auto club spokeswoman, but the organization is even having trouble pinpointing the price that will cause local drivers to change their habits.
Apparently it isn’t $3.
Vicki Williams of Gilbert gassed up in Scottsdale near where she works. The tab — $40. A couple of years ago it was $20, she said.
“I feel like I’m being ripped off, but what can I do? I’m already driving a 10-year-old car. I have to drive to work,” she said.
Norman LeBlanc of Chandler tools around the Valley in a Chevy Avalanche that gets 16 or 17 miles per gallon.
LeBlanc is “in sales and I drive a lot,” he said. He’s not inclined to cut back on driving. He said he can afford to pay for gas so he does.
But he’d like to find corn-based fuel, and his truck is primed to use it. So far, he hasn’t had any luck scoring the alternative mix in the Valley.
As long as local drivers are willing to keep paying without curtailing car usage, gas prices will keep rising, Gorman said.
In California, where pump prices averaged an astounding $3.35 this week, “they are seeing some changes in driving habits,” she said.
“But we have not arrived at a figure that would cause a drastic reduction in demand,” she said of Arizona.
The habit changes, whenever they come, can include buying cheaper cars, car-pooling, trip chaining — plotting a single route for accomplishing various errands so all can be done in one outing — and even changing jobs or living accommodations to work closer to home.