Less gas, more cash

Gas prices below two dollars a gallon have hit Northeast Ohio in recent weeks. Despite the weather on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, gas stations in Kent are experiencing no shortage in customers.

Melissa Puppo

Kent State students returning from winter break might notice a change in their finances due to decreasing gas prices sweeping Ohio.

More than 75 percent of Kent State’s student population is made up of commuters, many of whom must drive daily from outside cities into Kent for classes, according to the commuter webpage for the university.

Commuter student Krisztina Janossy said she is on campus five days a week, both attending classes and working as a designer for the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Along with driving to campus, she said she drives home to Cleveland once a week.

“I normally spend $30 to $40 a week and even sometimes $50,” Janossy, a senior communication studies major, said. “But now I can fill my gas tank up for 20 bucks, so there’s a huge difference.”

As of Jan. 11, Motor Trend reports stated that gas prices in Kent, Ohio, are about $2 or less with the cheapest regular gas prices as low as $1.799 a gallon at Gulf. Circle K trailed close behind at $1.819 a gallon. In surrounding areas, gas prices are similar with Ravenna’s stations averaging $1.819 a gallon.

In the past few months, Kent BP Gas Manager Ed Sam said he has noticed an increase in the amount of customers purchasing gas, as it would drop every week by 20 to 30 cents.

“When the gas drops down, everybody starts to go out and spend more money,” Sam said. “Gas used to be $4, now its $2.”

He said he doesn’t feel it will drop any lower than the price that it’s at now.

The decreasing of gas prices has several benefits to students, Janossy said, who was nervous about the previously high price of gas. Next fall, she will have a 45-minute commute to Kent from Cleveland Heights.

Janossy said that, as of late, it has been less of a hassle for her to figure out which gas stations to go to because she can find a good deal almost everywhere.

“Sometimes I had to plan it where (to go) if Kent’s gas was cheaper than Cleveland’s, I would get it here or if Cleveland was (cheaper), then I’d buy it there,” Janossy said. “Now, it’s like ‘I need gas? Let’s do it for 20 bucks a tank,’ so it’s more convenient now, and it’s a lot easier and pleasant to drive everywhere.”

Assistant professor of economics Shawn Rohlin said the cause for the gas prices dropping is determined by supply and demand, but is also determined by two other factors — the Shale Boom in Pennsylvania, which has increased the supply of oil in America, Europe and China’s economies and the apparent correlation to a decrease in demand.

“The most recent fall (of gas prices) in the last month has been caused by huge drops due to Saudi Arabia, the most powerful OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) country,” Rohlin said. “In an attempt to decrease U.S. production, they are refusing to hold back their supply of oil.”

Brandon Gonos, a sophomore computer information systems major, said the earliest he remembers gas prices being this low hasn’t been since he was a freshman in high school — a good five or so years ago.

Not only does Gonos commute from Kent five days a week, but he said he has also changed his car choice from a Chevy Trailblazer to an Impala to save him money. With the recent dip in prices, he has been saving money filling up roughly every week and a half.

“Everyone was excited about the drop in gas prices,” Gonos said. “You never know how long it’ll be this low. Gas is literally half the price it used to be.”

For Gonos and Janossy, this means they have more spending money.

Janossy said she was able to travel for New Year’s Eve when she thought money was going to be tight for the holiday season.

“I went to the Cleveland Rocks (New Year’s Eve) event, but if the gas prices weren’t so low, then I’d be using my money to pay for that (the event, rather) than to pay money for gas and to do other things,” Janossy said.

Gonos said one of the major benefits of low gas prices is the simplicity of saving money. He said as a college student, budgets are tight, so instead of traveling farther for trips to get a bite to eat, he has resorted to closer places in order to save money.

“Most commuters commute to save money because they are paying for things on their own, like myself, and with the drop, it will allow them to save money to pay for some bills or go out once in a while or more than you would,” Gonos said.

According to OhioGasPrices.com, the recent low gas prices recorded in Ohio were back in December 2008 when gas averaged $1.50 per gallon.

“I don’t think gas prices will change for a while,” Rohlin said. “Short term, I don’t think there will be any increase in gas prices.”

Contact Melissa Puppo at [email protected].