New Yorkers and tourists to the Big Apple are accustomed to paying outrageous prices for all goods and services. Taxes, Real estate costs, rents, parking, tolls, and food expenditures effectively destroy the purchasing power of millions of visitors into the Tri-State area.
Of course, New York County (Manhattan) is listed as one of the wealthiest counties in the Nation – posting 2007 U.S. Census median household income of $63,704; and the Nation at-large is not exactly commiserating with the caricatured New York blowhard. The notorious expense of doing business in the area is merely a function of the convenience and access to culture that New York City provides.
Ironically, New Yorkers do get a break in terms of gasoline costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, retail gasoline prices averaged $2.658 per gallon for the week of June 15, 2009 in New York City. These rates compare favorably to Chicago at $2.866 and the West Coast Cities of Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles that calculate out to equal $2.818, $3.002, and $2.983, respectively.
I must speculate that New York’s geography as a major port, designed to accommodate large amounts of Middle East crude oil, and the sheer refining capacity of North Jersey petroleum complexes contribute to effectively lower prices relative to other large metropolitan areas. Certainly, the taxman is not cutting motorists any slack at the Empire State.
New Yorkers must pay 59.6 cents per gallon worth of taxes. This 59.6-cent rate is the third highest in the U.S. after California (63.9) and Connecticut (62.5). Of course, New York City drivers must also pony up the 8.375% sales tax upon all fuel purchases in the five boroughs.
Manhattan, with its crushing population density and hotbed of tourism features the highest gas prices in New York. However, leaving the island simply to locate and purchase cheap gasoline is often penny-wise and pound-foolish. Snarled traffic and $8 tolls at Hudson and East River crossings will eliminate any 20-cent per gallon savings at the pump.
Yes, the Weehawken, NJ Exxon sells regular gas at $2.47, which is a far cry from Manhattan’s prevailing $3.00; and this price cut translates into $7.95 per 15-gallon fill up. Of course, the Lincoln Tunnel charges $8.00 upon the return trip back into New York, which transforms these “savings” into a 5-cent loss.
This guide details where to buy cheap gas in Manhattan. We will begin by articulating where not to purchase fuel at New York County, before articulating the viable alternatives.
Where NOT to Buy Gas in Manhattan
Logically, Midtown to Lower Manhattan service stations carry the highest prices per gallon of gasoline. These areas feature the highest amounts of wide-eyed tourists, frazzled employees, and crushing residential populations that allow for the demand side of the equation to skyrocket and towards outrageous charges. Of course, gasoline that may be purchased within close proximity to the FDR and West Side Highway (12th Ave.) that abut the various tunnels and bridges into the island comes at a steep premium.
For example, the Mobil service station at 70 10th Avenue is charging $3.13 at the time of this writing. This location offers relatively easy access onto the West Side Highway and Lincoln Tunnel between Midtown and New Jersey. Motorists would be better served to continue further along the 9A – West Side Highway to the 290 West Street Mobil. This station is now moving regular gas at $2.81 and offers quick access to Canal Street, Lincoln Tunnel, and the Manhattan Bridge.
This location is often the cheapest in the downtown area and often undersells Brooklyn competitors. Remember, the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges are free of charge across the East River into Brooklyn from downtown.
Locals may also consider filling up at the Fort Greene Exxon at 140 Vanderbilt Avenue, rather than being gouged at the pump on Lower Manhattan. This station is a quick left on Myrtle from Flatbush at downtown Brooklyn to Vanderbilt. Gas is currently retailing for $2.85 at this Exxon.
Where to Buy Cheap Gas in Manhattan
This article proves that “buying cheap gas in Manhattan” is a curious, funhouse phrase.
The downtown Mobil at 209 West Street is the best combination of price and location. Obviously, gas becomes cheaper the further that one travels away from the financial district and Central Park. Although, Uptown prices compare favorably to Midtown Manhattan, I would recommend that Harlem and Washington Heights types span the Harlem River into the Bronx in order to buy cheap gas.
Manhattan Yuppies have already begun to overrun the South Bronx to locate affordable real estate. Consequently, these socialites should have no problem with taking the Willis, 3rd, and Madison Avenue bridges into the Boogie Down to buy some cheap gas. Washington Heights and Inwood motorists will save at least ten cents per gallon by traveling north on Broadway into the Marble Hill section of the Bronx.
The BP at 3010 Riverdale Avenue (231st and Riverdale) is undercutting the Manhattan competition by moving gas for $2.75 at the moment. Meanwhile, Harlem drivers will seek to patronize the Mobil at 164 Willis Avenue, which charges $2.91 for one gallon of regular gasoline at the time of this writing. Of course, prices will continue to fall the deeper that one travels into the Bronx towards Westchester County. U.S. 1 – Boston Road is dotted with various service station vendors hawking cheap gas.
New Yorkers should not escape to Jersey specifically to buy fuel. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey collects $8 passenger vehicle tolls on the GW Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, and Holland Tunnel However, smart New Yorkers will stop and purchase gas in the Garden State prior to re entering the city upon previously coordinated business or pleasure travel.
Hess service stations always feature the lowest prices in the Tri State area.
Remember that all gas stations in New Jersey are full service; and these attendants should be tipped $1-$5 at your discretion.
Oops, your “savings” just went up in flames, yet again!
Where to Buy Cheap Gas in Manhattan, Sources:
New York City Gas Prices, http://www.newyorkgasprices.com/
New York Gasoline Tax Information, http://www.newyorkgasprices.com/Tax_Info.aspx
U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Retail Gasoline Prices, http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_home_page.html