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Rising gas prices pump up the cost of living for NYers

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With U.S. gas prices nearing historic highs over Presidents Day weekend, the cost to fuel up is making a dent out of everyone's wallets -- not just drivers.

In New York, the average price of regular gas hit $3.88 a gallon Monday, while the national average was about $3.56 a gallon, according to AAA. And the spike can impact everything from food to housing costs.

Drivers in New York City could see up to $4.55 a gallon by Memorial Day weekend, said Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for Gasbuddy.com.

“Everything goes up,” Laskoski warned. “Even if you don’t drive, [gas prices] affect anything that’s delivered to a consumer, whether it’s your local pizza, flowers or the groceries you end up buying at the supermarket.”

Irwin Kellner, chief economist for the MarketWatch information service, said that a potential conflict in the Middle East over Iran’s nuclear program is largely behind the spike in fuel prices. Still, gas has been plentiful since consumption has actually dropped for the past two years because of slow economic growth and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But any fighting between Israel and Iran would be a worst-case scenario, potentially adding another $2 a gallon to current retail gas prices, Laskoski said.

Global oil prices Monday also hit a nine-month high at above $105 a barrel.

“As long as we have this nervousness, we’re going to continue seeing crude oil edging upwards, and that means higher increases at the pump,” Laskoski added.

When prices spiked in 2008, Brooklyn resident Brian Tormey said his co-op board had to raise maintenance fees 12% and dip into the building’s reserve fund to make up for the unexpected surge.

“As a resident, costs like that affect your day-to-day spending that could have been used on eating out or diapers,” said Tormey, executive vice president of TitleVest Agency Inc.

Jawaid Toppa, a cab driver from Floral Park, said he’s spending almost $10 more a day on gas than six months ago.

“What choice do you got? You gotta put gasoline in the car. You can’t put water in it to make it run,” he said. “You have to give up certain things for the time being.”

For the time being at least, riders don’t have to worry about forking over more for fares. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance petitioned the TLC to raise fares last year, but a decision hasn’t been made on the proposal yet.

(With Marc Beja and Newsday)

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Car Travel

Commuting in the city is getting more and more expensive, so it's no surprise that it'll cost you an extra 49 cents per gallon to fill up compared to a year ago. New York's average price was around $3.88 yesterday, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report and the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Analysts say New York this year could surpass the record $4.28 per gallon reached in July 2008.

Air Travel

The airlines go by the whims of gasoline prices, and the industry recently instituted a $10 bump in ticket prices "ostensibly to try to offset some of the increases in fuel prices," according to Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com. Seaney added: "Airlines will continue every couple of weeks to try to raise prices, and consumers will tell them with their virtual credit cards whether they'll pay that extra price."

Goods and Services

Prices of food, clothing, building materials and other products will rise because they are transported on gas-guzzling trucks, economists said, while oil is used to make plastic, used in a myriad of products. "It's not just the higher cost of filling up your tank, it's the indirect cost that will get us as well," said economist Irwin Kellner, of MarketWatch.

(Tim Herrera/Newsday)

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