Gas price hikes continue to hurt pockets

Continuing gas price hikes have drivers feeling pain at the pumps.

“I’m not happy about it. I could tell you I’m not loyal to any gas station,” said Sharon Dash, a Scarborough resident who was waiting in her car for a spot at the pumps.

“Whether it be Esso, Shell or Petro Canada, it doesn’t matter. We have to buy it [gas] regardless. We need it.”

According to Tomorrow’s Gas Price Today, a website that predicts trends in fuel prices, said gas prices rose 4.9 cents at stations across the Greater Toronto Area last Saturday, hitting $129.5 cents per litre.

Chair of Toronto Transit Commission, Karen Stintz, says she notices a slight increase in transit riders when gas prices rise and hopes to see a greater increase since the TTC is now  an essential service.

“We do see an increase in ridership when there is a spike in gas prices but we still know we have a long way to go to be the provider of choice with service of choice for people and that’s my goal.”

Drivers are finding ways to save money on gas. A Scarborough East resident who didn’t want her name published says she goes for gas stations that offer promotion deals.

“Last month I was going to Husky because if you spent $25, you got 25 litres of gas and you got a $2 discount with their vouchers,” she said. She is currently loyal to Petro Canada because of their points card.

The word on price hikes spread quickly and left people hustling to fill up their tanks at last Friday’s price of $1.24. Lineups were reported to be jam packed at several gas stations. Many waited in line for as long as 30 minutes.

“Look, $86.09 just to fill up my SUV,” Elas, a customer at Petro Canada, said. “What more when the prices continue to rise? This is ridiculous.”

The price of gas is beginning to hurt his pockets and is on the brink of selling his car, Elas said.

Susan Benitez, a Scarborough resident and mother of two, said she saves money on gas by getting everything from home appliances, groceries and her children’s necessities all at one stop. Walmart has become ideal for her at this time, she said.

“I’m trying to make it a trip so that I concur the areas I need to all at once. So that I’m not backtracking and I’m not using unnecessary kilometres.”

Media outlets say experts predict a rise in gas prices isn’t ending yet.

“It’s always the hope that people will choose transit,” Stintz said.

As the weather improves and people make more use of the roads, the retail prices in gas will only rise further if crude stays high.

Market analysts had already warned Canadians months ago that gas prices are likely to skyrocket this spring.

Stintz says she hopes this will help Torontonians begin to see transit as a preferred choice.