At a rest stop along the Mass Pike in Lee, tractor-trailer driver Ryan Garrett from Kentucky was filling up just one of his two 150-gallon diesel tanks. As a long-haul trucker, Garrett has fuel costs deducted from his paycheck after a run ends.
Naturally, he pays attention to how much he spends. But diesel was selling for $6.42 a gallon at the I-90 Gulf station, which left him with little escape.
“I only fill one tank because I’m broke,” Garrett said, as the pump hovered around $700.
Soaring fuel prices are taking a heavy toll on family budgets.
Adams’ Jim Maselli Sr. often visits Cumberland Farms in North Adams to save 10 cents a gallon on gas with a prepaid card. But he lets his allegiance stray with rising gas prices.
If Racing Mart down the street in Adams has gas for less per gallon, it stops there instead. “It’s really stressful,” Maselli said Tuesday morning at Cumberland Farms on Curran Highway.
Older people in particular feel the pinch, Maselli said. “It’s not just the price of gasoline, but everything.”
On average, regular gasoline was selling for $4.37 a gallon on Tuesday, up 26 cents from a week ago, according to AAA data.
Berkshire residents say they are watching their dollars go.
“Economically it affects people,” said Jose Madrigal, who stopped to refuel his Toyota Yaris. He commutes between Williamstown, near the Pownal border, and North Adams, where he works as a teaching assistant at Drury High School. Between his commute to and from work and his errands, he “constantly goes”. He estimates that he spends $60 a week on gasoline. “It’s expensive,” he said.
Fortunately, Madrigal drives a car with relatively good gas mileage. Compared to driving in Boston, where he used to live, he feels he gets better mileage in the Berkshires, with less stop-and-go traffic.
Rising gasoline prices are also hitting businesses and their employees. County Rainbow Taxi recently raised fares from its base fee of $2.50 to $3.50, with the additional cost of an eighth of a mile rising from 30 to 40 cents, according to general manager James Regan.
“We had to raise our rates because the drivers are independent contractors and with gas prices so high – add 8% inflation – we had no choice but to raise our prices. money, none,” Regan said.
He added that “this of course has an impact on the results of the company”.
Regan worries that gas prices will continue to rise. He also fears that if the company has to raise prices again, it will lose passengers.
But he adds: “The guys who drive the taxis also have to survive.”
Like taxi drivers, Michelle Shafto spends hours in her car every day. She is an independent contractor who delivers The New York Times and The Berkshire Eagle to Williamstown. She spoke as she sat in her car at Cumberland Farms on Ashland Street before filling it up.
With rising gas prices and inflation, she switched from grocery shopping at Big Y to Aldi, a discount chain. “We try to reduce any additional driving,” she said.
Some people buy gasoline for recreation.
David Pecor was putting gasoline into a container at the Mobil station on the Curran Highway on Tuesday to fuel his dirt bike. He drives from Becket to BRO MX in North Adams to ride, and he hears other bikers frustrated with gas prices. “We all complain,” he said.
On a normal ride, it will use two or two and a half gallons of gas to ride for a few hours. His race bike requires the highest octane gas, which is more expensive than the regular tank-level option. He is semi-retired, but does home renovations, where he has also seen building costs rise.
“I’m not very happy with the oil companies. They live on a profit margin,” he said. “Companies just abuse.”
And like others, fuel costs add to the general price hike.
“That’s it, it’s not just gas, it’s food,” Pecor said.
Staff photographer Stephanie Zollshan contributed reporting.