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Tuesday, Oct 16 2012 06:04 PM

Gas price drop not a relief for drivers yet

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Juan Cortez pumps gas into his car at the Arco Station on the corner of California Avenue and Oak Street on Tuesday afternoon. Cortez says he makes less frequent trips to the other side of town since gas prices have gone up.

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Patty Bazaldua talks about gas prices while pumping gas at the Arco station at the corner of California Avenue and Oak Street.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Gas prices statewide are slowly creeping back down, but not enough that local consumers are feeling any relief.

"When it goes under $4" was when Bakersfield resident Patty Bazaldua said she'd be a bit more satisfied.

According to AAA's daily fuel gauge report, the average price per gallon of regular gasoline in California Tuesday was down to $4.594, and in Bakersfield it was $4.600. On Oct. 9, prices were at their highest ever in the state at $4.671 per gallon.

The national average Tuesday was $3.773 per gallon of regular, the report said.

Bazaldua said the prices are still so high that she tries to schedule trips on the same side of town and limit her mileage. The ups and downs of gas prices are something she's come to expect after years of watching them fluctuate.

That doesn't mean she enjoys it. "It's outrageous," she said of the recent high costs.

Bazaldua said she tries to fill up at Costco because of the relatively cheaper gas there. Sometimes there's a wait of up to 15 minutes, but it's worth it when you factor in the savings, she said.

Tom Seroogy works in the Temecula area and was filling up at the Arco station at California Avenue and Oak Street Tuesday afternoon. Seroogy said almost all of his driving is work-related and gas costs are covered, but he's not planning any extra trips for himself because of the current prices.

Bakersfield resident Hector Garcia said the few cents gas prices have dropped locally haven't made any difference to him. It would take a drop of at least a couple of dollars for him to take notice.

He said he believes the days of $3 for a gallon of regular are over, despite the riches the oil companies seem to be raking in.

"I see oil companies posting record profits and all we see are higher costs," Garcia said.

Juan Cortez decided drastic measures were needed during the most recent price spike. He sold his Jeep and bought a Honda Insight, a hybrid car that he said gets 41 miles per gallon.

Cortez said he used to travel to the beach a lot, but now the farthest he goes is to visit friends in Arvin. He'd consider $3.50 a fair price at this point.

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