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Paying at the pump: How the increase in gas prices affects Oxford

Across the U.S., including in Oxford, gas prices are skyrocketing.
Across the U.S., including in Oxford, gas prices are skyrocketing.

As conflicts escalate between Russia and Ukraine, Oxford residents are paying more to fuel up at local gas stations.

Gas prices across the United States were already increasing due to increased demand coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prices have continued to climb.

On March 8, President Biden banned imports of Russian oil, gas and coal.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), on March 20, the average price of gas across Ohio was $4.02 per gallon. One year ago, the average price in Ohio was $2.61 per gallon. 

In Cincinnati, the average was slightly higher at $4.03 per gallon. Overall, Ohio was about $0.20 lower per gallon than the national average.

Oxford has also experienced gas prices over $4.00 per gallon. Seth Cropenbaker, assistant to the city manager of Oxford, said the city benefits from being a smaller town because most major employers are within walking distance.

“Many folks who live in town are employees of the university or Talawanda School District or McCullough-Hyde Hospital, so most jobs are within town,” Cropenbaker said. “That’s not something that the city has directly tried to do, but it is a factor of life in Oxford that your car travel is generally reduced.”

While Cropenbaker said there is no subsidy or grant program for people struggling to pay for gas, he offered some tips for people looking to drive their car less.

“We’ve installed a number of electric vehicle charging stations at the city garage, so folks who have moved to an electric vehicle have a public resource where they can charge their vehicles,” Cropenbaker said.

For people who don’t have electric cars, the city has other modes of transportation to help.

“Oxford has gone to take several steps to improve the ability for folks to bike around town,” Cropenbaker said. “We’ve got a complete streets program, and we’re trying to open up bike lanes on major traffic routes. When available, take a self-powered vehicle, anything from using your feet to riding a bike or scooter.”

Although the city offers alternative options to gas-powered vehicles, some residents want to drive their cars without breaking the bank.

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On March 18, Dennis Day, an Oxford resident, put $23.00 into his tank at the Circle K on N. College Avenue for $4.09 per gallon. He said he got gas a few days before but needed to fill up again.

“I think it’s ridiculous that our president won’t open the gas lines up,” Day said.

On March 1, the United States committed to releasing 30 million barrels of oil in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – however, any barrels the United States imports will come from a global market, and prices will likely remain high.

At the same gas station, Cenna Young, a junior social work major at Miami University, was also filling up. Young, who was headed home to New York for spring break, put $40 in her tank and said she’ll have to stop one more time to get gas.

“It sucks, but I’m okay with it,” Young said. “I don’t fill up my car enough, and I don’t have a big truck or anything, so it’s not that big of a deal for me."

But some people, like Bill Dillon, a food delivery driver for Oxford To You, rely on gas for their jobs.

On March 20, Dillion paid $30 at United Dairy Farmers on W. High Street at $4.04 per gallon. He also paid $30 the day before.

“It’s crazy because I drive anywhere from 100 to 200 miles a day doing deliveries here in Oxford, so it hurts,” Dillon said.

With tensions still rising between Russia and Ukraine, warmer weather and vacations right around the corner, it doesn’t appear that gas prices will drop significantly anytime soon, but according to AAA, Ohio’s average gas prices have decreased within the past week.

“As folks feel inflation, it has a significant impact on everyone, not only individual budgets, but small businesses feel it too,” Cropenbaker said. “I think as prices of all kinds continue to rise and continue to limit individuals … it will have impacts.”