Record gas prices have some changing routines

CHICAGO The soaring prices at the pump have some in the Chicago area making even deeper budget cuts and rethinking how they get to where they're going each day.

Crude oil set a new record of its own, jumping to $117 a barrel. That has helped push the new record gas prices.

In Chicago, AAA says regular unleaded gas is now $3.72 a gallon. In Illinois, the average is $3.65 a gallon. AAA says the national average is up to $3.50 a gallon.

"I think they're pretty astronomical, and I don't understand why nobody's outrages or we're collectively doing anything about it," said Julie Watson, consumer.

"it's taking money out of my pocket, family's pocket, you know what I'm saying? I used to help my grandmother out. I can't really help her out no more because I'm using a lot of money on gas," said Lionel Jackson, who was buying gas.

At the BP station at N. LaSalle and W. North Ave., prices are constantly changing. Unleaded regular was $3.99 a gallon Monday afternoon, while premium was $4.19.

One cab driver ran out of gas Monday. He says it's costing him $80 - 90 to fill up his tank.

"I don't eat the same, you know, I have to be, like, really just grabbing the cheap stuff so I can survive," said cab driver Ahmed Benabdellah.

"With the way the gas was, I figured why not walk? It's a beautiful day in Chicago, figured go out, get some exercise, you know, save a little cash," said Frank Kanarowski, business owner.

At the BP on Roosevelt Rd., gas was 20 cents cheaper at $3.79. At the Pilsen Shell, it was the same.

The question is, what can consumers do to conserve? The Family Credit Management Center in the Loop is offering noon classes on just that issue.

"When it comes to spending, you have to make sacrifices in other areas because we have to have gas for our cars," said Michael McAuliff, Family Credit Counseling Service.

"Gas is just running higher, and higher, and higher, really can't afford to even drive anywhere," said consumer Patricia Turner.

"For me and my husband who have to drive into the city every day to do our business, it's costing us upwards of $500 to $600 a month, which takes away from our grocery allowance," said consumer Alisha Roberts-Novak.

One woman said she and her friends have purchased scooters to drive into the city. The one problem is now there are new rules and regulations as to where you can and cannot park a scooter. That has created problems for her.

A Hummer versus a Ford Focus - with today's gas prices, Candice McCuller will take her Ford any day.

"I'd rather save money, honestly. I don't need a big car. It's just me," she said.

It took $40 to fill up the Focus tank, while Tracey Bey says a full tank for her Hummer costs close to $100.

"If I have to go anywhere extra, you think about it before you have to go because it costs so much," she said.

Thinking twice before using the car has now become routine for so many Chicagoans...

"I try to use public transportation whenever I can," said Jason Hodge.

And when he does use his car, Hodge says he waits until his gas gage is on "E" or below before filling up.

Sadira Muhammad doesn't even own a car. When she needs one, Muhammed rents a Zip Car.

"I was thinking of buying one this summer, but I'm thinking with gas costs, why?" she said.

But some don't have a choice. Debbie Mahler's technology company survives on making house calls to fix people's computers. High gas prices are making her small business impossible.

So why are prices so high? Experts say it's the horrible combination of too much worldwide demand for oil and not enough supply

And experts predict it is only going to get worse. Look for summer prices to hit the $4 mark...
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