After running the Coastal gas station at Carm and Sal’s Auto Service on Niagara Street for over 40 years, Sal Bonfante said he has seen it all—from gas shortages to the perennial rising and falling gas prices.
This year, however, has proved to Bonfante that there is always room for the unexpected.
“Usually the price of gas goes up around Memorial Day,” said Bonfante shaking his head. “But this year was way too early.”
With gas prices expected to sky rocket - SP to record highs this summer, local gas station owners are bracing for the worst. Bonfante, whose station has increased four cents a gallon per week over the last several weeks, said he expects to see prices exceed five dollars - AP per gallon by mid-summer.
“I can’t do anything about the prices,” said Bonfante. “The only way to control prices is for people to slow down on driving. When the demand is high, the prices are always going to be high.”
Like many gas stations on the West Side, Bonfante is sitting at $3.89 per gallon, just two cents under the Buffalo average, which is currently $3.91per gallonCOMMA according to GasBuddy.com.
Across town, Pat Nemeth is preparing to lay off employees to cut down on overhead.
“It’s the same as in 2008 when gas went up to $4.50 per gallon,” said Nemeth amid sweeping the floor of his Mobil station at the corner of Elmwood and Forest. “I’ll have to absorb the price increase and handle most of the duties myself.”
While Nemeth’s Mobil station sits at $3.99 per gallon, he said he hasn’t noticed any change in customers’ buying habits. Bonfante, however, hasn’t had the satisfaction of filling a tank at his full-service station in over a week. By Jacob Becker and Ed Mazzu