This long-haul trucker only filled up one of his diesel tanks. It still cost him $700 | North Berkshires

semi-trailers at the gas station

At the rest stop along the Mass Pike in Lee on Tuesday, diesel prices climbed to $6.42 a gallon.

At a rest stop along the Mass Pike in Lee, tractor-trailer driver Ryan Garrett was filling up just one of his two 150-gallon diesel tanks.

As a long-haul trucker, the Kentucky resident has fuel costs deducted from his paycheck after a run ends.

Naturally, he pays attention to how much he spends. But diesel was selling for $6.42 a gallon at the I-90 Gulf station, which left him with little escape.

“I only fill one tank because I’m broke,” Garrett said, as the pump hovered around $700.

Ryan Garrett pulls the diesel pump out of the tank

At the rest stop along the Mass Pike in Lee, Kentucky truck driver Ryan Garrett said fuel costs were deducted from his pay after his trip was complete. “I only fill one tank because I’m broke,” he said.

Soaring fuel prices are taking a heavy toll on family budgets.

Jim Maselli Sr. of Adams often visits Cumberland Farms in North Adams to save 10 cents a gallon on gas with a prepaid card. But he lets his allegiance stray with rising gas prices.

If Racing Mart down the street in Adams has gas for less per gallon, it stops there instead. “It’s really stressful,” Maselli said Tuesday morning at Cumberland Farms on Curran Highway.

Older people in particular feel the pinch, Maselli said. “It’s not just the price of gasoline, but everything.”

On average, regular gasoline was selling for $4.37 a gallon on Tuesday, up 26 cents from a week ago, according to AAA data.

Berkshire residents say they are watching their dollars go.

“Economically it affects people,” said Jose Madrigal, who stopped to refuel his Toyota Yaris. He commutes between Williamstown, near the Vermont border, and North Adams, where he works as a teaching assistant at Drury High School.

Between his commute to and from work and his errands, he “constantly goes”. He estimates that he spends $60 a week on gasoline. “It’s expensive,” he said.

Luckily, Madrigal said, he drives a car with relatively good gas mileage. Compared to driving in Boston, where he used to live, he feels he gets better mileage in the Berkshires, with less stop-and-go traffic.

The volume discount helps the city – a little

You won’t see a City of Pittsfield dump truck pull up next to you at the pump. The city buys its gasoline and diesel directly from suppliers and the city’s vehicles and equipment run on municipal supplies. Utilities and Utilities Commissioner Ricardo Morales said bulk buying saves the city a bit on its fuel bill, but the price hike is also being felt in the city’s coffers. city.

At the start of each year, Pittsfield buys 70,000 gallons of diesel at a negotiated rate — this year it bought that supply from Mirabito Energy Products at $2.88 a gallon. That amount of fuel should have lasted the city a year, but this winter’s work burned those gallons faster than expected.

The city is now buying additional diesel at the market rate — Morales said last week’s diesel purchase was about $5.60 a gallon. Gas is a slightly different story, it is purchased as needed from O’Connell Oil Associates at a slightly reduced rate.

With between 80 and 120 vehicles on the road at any given time, the city typically uses 120,000 gallons of gasoline per year. Last week’s gasoline outflow for the fleet was $4.17 per gallon.

City officials have budgeted about $7,000 a week for refueling costs for vehicles and pieces of equipment in Pittsfield’s fleet. Morales said the weekly fuel bill for the fleet is now around $9,000 per week. He said the price trend was that the city was planning a 20% increase in its gas and diesel budget for next year, for a total of about $400,000 for the whole year.

The city is in a difficult situation. The driving performed by city inspection vehicles, police cruisers, fire engines and excavators that depend on the city’s gas and diesel supply is not really the type of driving that can be reduced to expect high prices. And city officials are reluctant to encourage carpooling as coronavirus rates rise.

“What service are we ceasing to offer? said Moraux. “We still have to work on all of our potholes like we do now, we still have to go and fix sumps or manholes, we still have to clean clogged pipes or respond to sewer and water calls.”

The same goes for Brian Andrews, president of County Ambulance in Pittsfield, who said costs have increased by 30-40%.

“It’s definitely a challenge for us because not only do we do local [runs] but we do [runs] in Springfield and Boston too,” he said. “When they go to Boston, they have to pay highway prices for gas. … It stinks.”

It hurts even more, he said, because “we had to absorb a significant increase in medical costs because of COVID 19.”

business bite

Rising gas prices are also hitting small businesses and their employees.

“It affects their bottom line; it comes from their overhead,” said Keith Girouard, regional director of the Berkshire office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network in Pittsfield. “I have a manufacturer, for example, that services stores all over the New England area and beyond, and that’s really impacting their bottom line, both their gross profit and their net profit.”

County Rainbow Taxi recently raised fares from its base fee of $2.50 to $3.50, with the additional cost of an eighth of a mile rising from 30 to 40 cents, according to general manager James Regan.

“We had to raise our rates because the drivers are independent contractors and with gas prices so high – add 8% inflation – we had no choice but to raise our prices. money, none,” Regan said.

He added that “this of course has an impact on the results of the company”.

Regan worries that gas prices will continue to rise. He also fears that if the company has to raise prices again, it will lose passengers.

But he adds: “The guys who drive the taxis also have to survive.”

Like taxi drivers, Michelle Shafto spends hours in her car every day. She is an independent contractor who delivers The New York Times and The Berkshire Eagle to Williamstown. She spoke as she sat in her car at Cumberland Farms on Ashland Street before filling it up.

With rising gas prices and inflation, she switched from grocery shopping at Big Y to Aldi, a discount chain. “We try to reduce any additional driving,” she said.

Some people buy gasoline for recreation.

David Pecor was putting gasoline into a container at the Mobil station on the Curran Highway on Tuesday to fuel his dirt bike. He drives from Becket to BRO MX in North Adams to ride, and he hears other bikers frustrated with gas prices. “We all complain,” he said.

On a normal ride, it will use two or two and a half gallons of gas to ride for a few hours. His race bike requires the highest octane gas, which is more expensive than the regular tank-level option. He is semi-retired, but does home renovations, where he has also seen building costs rise.

“I’m not very happy with the oil companies. They live on a profit margin,” he said. “Companies just abuse.”

And like others, fuel costs add to the general price hike.

“That’s it,” Pecor said. “It’s not just gas, it’s food.”

Staff writers Meg Britton-Mehlisch and Tony Dobrowolski, and staff photographer Stephanie Zollshan, contributed reporting.

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