Studying self-serve gas

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New Jersey is one of the two states in the country which don't allow self-serve gas (the other is Oregon). Now, in a bold move, Governor John Corzine wants to do a three month trial of self-serve gas:
Drivers could save 5 or 6 cents a gallon if stations offered self-service, Corzine said at a news conference on the state's response to soaring gas prices.

But he wants to study whether the savings would be passed on to drivers and would last, he said. He said he would lobby legislators to allow a three-month pilot program, perhaps beginning on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Study??? Seeing as 48 states already have self-serve gas, you'd think that the cost/benefit equation for self-serve gas would be fairly clear.


The State must move cautiously, lets it embarass itself by looking stupid for doing stuff everyone else already does!

Corzine has also proposed lowering the state's speed limit to 55 to "save gas".

Isn't this wonderful? He wants to save gas, so he wants to lower gas prices, which will increase demand, but in order to compensate he'll waste everyone's time by making their commutes longer.

I doubt that any politician has ever, in the history of democratic government, commissioned a study for the purpose of gathering or analyzing information. Studies have numerous political purposes--floating trial balloons, providing cover for already-made decisions, rewarding political friends with contracts or exposure or resume padding--but gathering and analyzing information are not, and have never been, on the list.

Back in the day, NJ gas used to be relatively cheap. I regularly crossed the border from NY to fill up. I ASSume that the contract for NJ turnpike gas sales has gone to one company. Since it is inconvenient and costly to leave the turnpike to find "local gas", I expect the price charged not to slip that much. Then, Corzine can say the "plan didn't work" and can bail on it. Gotta keep that precious gas station attendant vote ;^).

Chris, it still is "relatively cheap" in NJ, compared with NY (see this entry of mine). And yes, the NJT and the GSP do have a one-company contract — it used to be with Sunoco, now it's with Lukoil.

But the price is, while not the lowest available, competetive with that off-highway. My guess here is that Corzine isn't planning to bail on it, but does want to implement it fully. Remember that he's a billionaire businessman, not a career politician.

I am skeptical, though, about whether it really will cause prices to drop. My guess is that it will not, at least not in the long term.

Well, and the results are in — not the results of the study, of course, since it's too soon, but the results of the suggestion: today's local news reports that Jon Corzine has, indeed, bailed, because of "overwhelming voter response" against it. That is, he got tons of calls and letters from constituents who think it's a bad idea (and, I guess, not enough from others).

The concern is that adding a self-serve option will just settle the price of self-serve gas into the current price, and will drive the price of full-serve up. And people who get gas in New Jersey like having someone else fill 'er up for 'em.

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