Gas prices are heavy on commuters

With empty store shelves, inflation hitting consumer items across the board and now rising gas prices, UCO student commuters are experiencing the negative effects of increased prices at the pump.

Gas prices in Oklahoma have surged to nearly $3.20 in some areas, and experts at GasBuddy are claiming gas prices could potentially exceed $4 in the next few months.

Senior Ebony Sayles commutes about 30 minutes three or four times a week depending on her needs for on-campus services, such as the UCO School of Design print lab. 

“The increase in gas prices has really hurt my wallet and has caused inconvenience in my routines,” Sayles said. 

Sayles mentioned part of the disruption in her routine comes from needing to refuel. She can only pump what she can afford and that sometimes means leaving without a full tank. 

Students face an even heavier price to pay when it comes to deciding between filling their tanks for commuting or purchasing items required for their education.  

“Overall, the experience has been negative and causes a ripple effect that impacts not only my commute but my ability to pay for materials for school projects, as well as day-to-day necessities,” Sayles said. 

Junior Sofia Arenas shares a similar sentiment that climbing gas prices has made it a struggle to commute to UCO. She makes the 30-minute drive to school around two times a week but lately has had to reevaluate what used to be a routine trip.  

“Instead of thinking, ‘I’m going to class to learn,’ it’s ‘I’m going to need to figure out how to afford the time and gas this drive will take me,” Arenas said. 

There are two causes for gas price fluctuations: crude oil prices and supply and demand. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Gasoline prices can change rapidly if something disrupts crude oil supplies, refinery operations or gasoline pipeline deliveries.” In the current global circumstances, the pandemic is playing a part in prices.  

If oil production does not increase, prices will not decrease. So why are companies hesitant to amp up their production? Industry heads see it as a risk given the current conditions. If the economy suffers from another spike in COVID-19 cases, companies could lose money and employees.  

However, high prices are not expected to become the norm forever. The EIA estimates that gas prices will decline toward the end of 2022. 

In their latest Short-Term Energy outlook, the EIA reported, “We expect that slower demand growth and increasing crude oil production through 2022 and 2023 will contribute to lower crude oil and petroleum product prices.” 

While this might appear to be an abstract concept filled with statistics and economic jargon, the bottom line is that the current prices have damaging results and will continue to hurt working-class individuals and students alike until prices decline and level out.

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