The lines were three cars deep at the ARCO station at Portland and Puyallup avenues in Tacoma this afternoon as motorists enjoyed an unfamiliar sight: the sign on the pumps read $3.89 a gallon.
“Who would’ve thought that we’d be celebrating because gas is $3.89 a gallon?” said Melissa Bernovich of Browns Point.
She and her husband Guy were filling up their min-van for a trip to Portland.
It’s been a long time since he’d seen regular on the downhill side of $4, he said. “Let’s hope this is a positive trend.”
It’s been just a week since the ARCO station’s closest competitor, the Puyallup tribal Shell station on the opposite side of Interstate 5, first cracked the $4 barrier by posting regular at $3.99 a gallon.
In that week, at least 15 Tacoma-area gas stations have dropped their prices below $4, some like ARCO dropping the price to $3.89.
Larry Vigil of Bremerton was enjoying the respite from the record gas prices. Vigil was driving a four-cylinder Kia Sportage, in which he recently recorded mileage in excess of 31 miles per gallon on a trip to California.
He had been driving a V-8 Land Rover sport utility vehicle before he bought the Kia. That vehicle averaged 11 or 12 mpg, he said.
He had dropped by the ARCO because it consistently has prices among the lowest in the area.
“I’m hopeful this continues,” said Vigil.
It wasn’t just lower gas prices that attracted customers to the station. Fran Trierweiler of Tacoma was filling five, five-gallon containers with diesel at $4.65 a gallon at the station for her boat. That price was 16 cents below the average Tacoma market price.
Was she glad to see fuel prices falling? “You’d better believe it,” she said.
Though Tacoma-area gas prices have fallen steeply from their record average high of $4.368 a gallon just five weeks ago, area prices on average are still significantly over the $4 mark, according the AAA Washington.
That organization’s daily survey put average Tacoma prices at $4.129 Thursday, down 2.4 cents from Wednesday’s mark.
Tacoma average prices are still well over the national average, $3.909. But they were well below the average in Alaska, $4.636. Oklahoma prices, said the AAA, are the nation’s lowest at $3.636 a gallon.
Analysts say that if crude prices keep coming down — those prices fell $2.69 a barrel today to $124.73 — gas prices could go as low at $3 a gallon in some parts of the country.
A cutback in consumption by the driving public and by airlines has throttled the demand for gasoline, causing futures prices to turn downward.