A group of 75 New Jersey gas stations planned to cut their prices by as much as 20 cents a gallon on Friday in order to build support for a bogged-down effort to allow self-service gas in the Garden State.
The one-day publicity campaign arrives as gasoline prices in New Jersey and across the nation rise to new heights just weeks ahead of Memorial Day and the unofficial start of the summer driving season.
Average state gas prices were $4.49 a gallon as of Thursday, according to a report by AAA, the national driving club, up from about $3.03 a gallon a year ago.
New Jersey is the only state that completely prohibits drivers from pumping their own gas, but a bid to lift the 73-year-old ban has been a hard sell among elected officials and the public.
Motorists still won't be able to pump their own gas on Friday, but the Fuel Your Way NJ coalition said it’s Self-Serve Day of Awareness will show drives just how much they could save if such an option were available.
“With the cost of gas prices continuing to rise, it’s taking a bigger and bigger bite out of people’s wallets,” said Sal Risalvato, president of the New Jersey Gasoline and C-Store Association, which is organizing the campaign and pushing legislation in Trenton to allow self-service.
“We want the public to know that one of the quickest ways we can reduce gas prices is to allow gas stations the ability to offer self-serve in New Jersey," he said.
Some economists question the potential savings, noting that any savings in labor costs from getting rid of gas-station attendants could be countered by rising insurance costs for fuel providers. Pump prices are largely determined by tax policies and the global oil market, critics have said.
But Risalvato on Thursday estimated that the cost of a gallon of gas at the 75 participating stations would drop by 10 to 15 cents for the day, representing the cost of labor per gallon for pumping gas.
Costs will vary across different locations, and some could shave off as much as 20 cents a gallon, he said. As of Thursday, the price of crude oil was pegged at over $105 a barrel.
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According to the coalition's announcement, participating stations will give motorists a facsimile of a $100 bill, which the campaign says will represent the $100 to $400 drivers could save on their gas bill every year.
New Jersey lawmakers including state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, have been skeptical of the promises from self-serve proponents. Scutari vowed to block the proposed legislation earlier this year, effectively killing it.
Gov. Phil Murphy's office did not comment for this story. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, a gatekeeper for any proposals in the Legislature's lower house, said in a statement that he's "thoughtfully exploring a host of legislative solutions."
Oregon, the most recent state that had a total ban on self-serve gas, saw no change in its gas prices once its prohibition was partially lifted in 2015.
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A Rutgers poll in March found that 73% of New Jerseyans were in favor of having their gas pumped for them, versus 22% of respondents who said they’d prefer to do it themselves. But Risalvato argued the survey didn't represent the compromise that his group favors: allowing self-serve but keeping a full-service option as well.
Monmouth University last month found just over half of state residents want a self-service choice, while two-thirds still want the option of having someone else to pump their gas for them.
Here’s a rundown of stations participating in the campaign on Friday:
Exxon, 142 Chestnut Ridge Rd., Montvale
North Arlington Gulf, 101 Ridge Rd., Montvale
Exxon, 782 Route 17 North, Paramus
Valero, 639 Route 17 North, Paramus
Exxon, 100 Route 17 North, Paramus
Sunoco, 456 Route 17 North, Ramsey
Berlin P66, 201 White Horse Pike, Berlin
Amoco, 2 Marlton Pike West, Cherry Hill
West Berlin Delta, 250 North Route 72, West Berlin
Cape May County
Cape Harbor Auto Repair, 795 Route 109, Cape May
Livingston Sunoco, 247 S. Livingston Ave., Livingston
Exxon, 264 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair
Exxon 625 McCarter Highway, Newark
Lukeoil, 335 McCarter Highway, Newark
Exxon, 550 Eagle Rock Ave., Roseland
Glassboro Delta, 100 Delsea Drive, Glassboro
Bayonne Tiger Mart, 529 Kennedy Blvd. Bayonne
Willow Sunoco, 1301 Willow Ave., Hoboken
Lukoil, 200 12th St., Jersey City
Shell, 164 14th St., Jersey City
Gold Coast Petro Sunoco, 588 Manila Ave., Jersey City
Newport Exxon, 245 12th St., Jersey City
BP, 235 12th St., Jersey City
Sunoco, 465 Grand St., Jersey City
Exxon, 450 Route 3 West, Secaucus
Newport Valero, 193 14th St., Jersey City
Exxon Holland Tunnel Service Center, 597 Marin Blvd., Jersey City
Califon Exxon, 429 County Road 513, Califon
Hampton BP, 238 Route 31 North, Hampton
Lebanon Route 22 Sunoco, 1370 Route 22 West, Lebanon
Lebanon Sunoco, 1237 Route 31, Lebanon
Lebanon BP, 1201 Route 31 South, Lebanon
Liberty Mart, 118 Route 22/Route 31 North, Ringoes
Lukoil, 2558 Pennington Road, Penington
Lukoil, 3513 Route 1 South, Princeton
Exxon, 270 W. Inman Ave., Colonia
East Brunswick Sunoco, 784 Route 18, East Brunswick
Ultra Mart, 3875 Park Ave., Edison
Exxon, 1441 Route 1 South, Edison
Exxon, Garden State Parkway, North Colonia
Exxon, Garden State Parkway, South Iselin
BP, 2401 Route 9 North, Old Bridge
Lukoil, 152 Old New Brunswick Road, Piscataway
Zackria Fuel, 4501 Stelton Rd., South Plainfield
South River BP, 258 Old Bridge Turnpike, South River
Aberdeen Exxon, 1164 Route 34, Aberdeen
BP, 44 South St., Freehold
Hazlet Shell, 1355 Route 36, Hazlet
Matawan Sunoco, 323 Route 34, Matawan
Middletown BP, 863 Highway 35, Middletown
Monmouth Road BP, 373 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch
Denville Route 46 Sunoco, 161 W. Main St., Denville
Long Valley P66, 43 East Mill Rd., Long Valley
Randolph BP, 260 South Salem St., Randolph
Whippany Lukeoil, 1235 Route 10, Whippany
Exxon, 600 Brick Blvd., Brick
Exxon, 181 Drum Point Road, Brick
Exxon, 1444 Highway 88, Lakewood
Kelly’s Sea Bay Sunoco, Route 35 North, Lavallette
Shell, 1350 Route 9 South, Toms River
Exxon, 13 Route 37 East, Toms River
Exxon, 468 Haldon Ave., Haledon
Exxon, 716 Goffle Rd., Hawthorne
Exxon, 1431 Route 23 South, Wayne
Somerset Hills Exxon, 545 Martinsville Rd., Basking Ridge
Exxon, 1101 Easton Ave., Somerset
Peapack Sunoco, 28 Route 206, Peapack
Exxon, 162 Central Ave., Clark
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ gas stations offering price cut Friday to promote Self-Serve Day