As a black pickup truck rumbled away from the Depot Corner gas station in Edgartown with a pair of lawn mowers stowed in its bed, the screen at the pump displayed the hard truth: $191.64 for just over 41 gallons of regular gasoline. And this isn’t an exceptional case. Infamous in years past for its high prices, the Vineyard is a place where drivers should expect to see their wallets lightened by some of the nation’s most expensive gasoline this summer.
Although the average price of gas in Massachusetts differs from the national average by only a few cents per gallon, it’s a different story on the Island. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the national average is $3.58 for regular, $3.76 for mid-grade, $3.92 for premium and $3.85 for diesel. A sampling of prices at the Island’s nine gas stations on Sunday showed an average price of $4.36 for regular, $4.51 for mid-grade, $4.63 for premium and $4.14 for diesel.
While gas prices on the Island exhibit no strong geographic trends, the relative bargains are hiding up-Island. Menemsha Texaco sells regular for $4.19 a gallon and faces stiff competition from Up-Island Automotive, which offers regular for $4.26. On the other end of the Island, Edgartown’s Depot Corner Shell offers regular at $4.45 a gallon — the Vineyard’s priciest.
While many customers expressed their discontent with the high prices, a surprising number also said they felt resigned to the fate of paying for expensive gas.
“I’d say that I’ve been desensitized to the high gas prices,” said Denise Page, an Island resident, from the window of her pickup truck. “It’s the price you have to pay for living in such an awesome place.”
And the resignation is not confined to the locals.
“It’s about a dollar per gallon more than where we came from,” shrugged Ray Cantelmo, who is from Rhode Island, as he gassed up his bright red moped. “But we don’t use much gas on this little thing.”
At the four gas stations in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, prices vary far less than at the pumps on either end of the Island. Regular gas showed an average price of $4.385 per gallon with almost insignificant variation between towns: $4.38 at the pumps in Oak Bluffs and $4.39 in Vineyard Haven. Mid and premium-grade fuel averaged $4.507 and $4.623 per gallon, respectively, with similarly insignificant variation. While bargain hunters will find the lowest prices at Jim’s Package Store in Oak Bluffs, gas was only a few cents more expensive at the other three stations.
“What do I think of the gas prices? Compared to when I was a kid, they suck!” said Jeff Lovato, a driver for Your Taxi. Although he is not required to pay for his van’s gas out of pocket, Mr. Lovato said he rarely fills his tank completely.
“Sixty or seventy bucks’ worth usually gets me through a few days,” he said.
On average, gas is more expensive on the Vineyard than in any other state. According to GasBuddy, an online service providing information on gas prices around the country, Hawaii currently holds the title for most expensive state with an average price of $4.23 per gallon of regular. The most expensive city in the nation is Santa Barbara, Calif., where the average price of regular is also $4.23.
For the past 21 years, Don Llewellyn and his family have sailed to Martha’s Vineyard from Annapolis, Md. This year, they drove. Mr. Llewellyn said that he expected gas to be significantly more expensive here than at home.
“You know, it costs money to ship the gas over from the mainland,” he said. “I figure that when I buy gas, I’m making a contribution to the local economy.”