Climbing Gas Prices, Changing Lifestyles

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 7:29pm

EL PASO - El Paso and Las Cruces both average $3.69 per gallon of gasoline, and that's caused many of you to cut back on your lifestyle.

Rise V Auto & Tire sales manager Alvaro Ochoa says people are clambering for tune-ups.

"We've seen about a 40% increase in people coming in, checking out their vehicles, checking air pressure," Ochoa said.

Doing small, relatively inexpensive things like replacing your air filter, getting an oil change, and checking tire pressure can help your car get the best gas mileage possible.

"It'll last you depending on how much you ride your vehicle everyday," he added.

This auto shop isn't the only place seeing El Pasoans change their travel routine.

"We do see an increase in ridership," said Laura Cruz-Acosta, public affairs coordinator for Sun Metro.

Sun Metro has seen a lot more people climb on buses, even after a fare increase in January.

"This year we have about 100,000 more riders in the month of March," she said.

But we wanted to know - why are prices so high, anyway? So we went to UTEP economy professor Tom Fullerton. He says the global economy is improving, driving up the demand for fuel. And the turmoil in the Middle East is making things worse.

"When wars break out that invariably lowers the rate of production and reduces the supple of crude oil on the global market," Dr.Fullerton said.

Yet across the border, gas isn't nearly as high - so what gives? Dr. Fullerton says the Mexican government controls the price.

"Given some of the economic and social problems in Mexico at present the government has refrained from raising prices," he said.

So when do economists think we'll get some relief from gas prices?

"They are at or near their peaks right now," he added.

Experts are saying we may see prices decrease - or at least stabilize - by the middle of this year. But it could be as long as 2012 until we get any breaks.

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