Average gas prices in the seven northeastern Pennsylvania counties were above the national average of $4,289 and the state average of $4,365 on Thursday, according to AAA.
Pike County led the state with a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline averaging $4.50. Five other local counties — Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Susquehanna and Wayne — had the highest average prices in the state.
Pike also topped Pennsylvania the previous two days, at $4.536 a gallon on Tuesday and $4.525 on Wednesday.
Industry and local watchers say one of the main reasons Pike’s price at Pennsylvania’s head pumps could be that the county shares a border with part of New York, which statewide has had a higher average gas price than Pennsylvania. On Thursday, New York’s average price of $4.405 was 4 cents above the Pike County average.
“It’s hard to say” why gas in Pike County has the highest average price in Pennsylvania, said Nicole Petersen, spokeswoman for Gas. Buddy.com, a Boston-based company with a fuel-saving app and website. “There are a lot of factors that go into the price of a gallon of gasoline. Proximity to the New York border could be one of them, as New York currently has a higher average gas price than Pennsylvania.
Milford Borough Mayor Sean Strub also cited Pike’s border with part of New York, and which is a main travel corridor between the two states, as a possible reason.
“It’s not just the cost of gas to the retailer that determines the prices, it’s also how competitive they are with other nearby stations,” Strub said in an email. “With higher prices in New York State, this has created an opportunity for Pennsylvania stations to go higher near New York’s borders than elsewhere in the state.”
However, all of the other counties in Pennsylvania that also border New York have a cheaper average gas price than Pike County, but they probably don’t have as much cross-border traffic, Strub noted.
“My assumption is not true along the northern part of PA, but there’s not a lot of traffic from New York along those areas,” Strub said.
Pike County is also bisected by Interstate 84, a major link to New York and New England. The approximately 35 miles of I-84 in Pike County has five entrances/exits that each have one or two nearby gas stations.
Gas stations along interstates, freeways, and other busy roads tend to charge more than stations that don’t have the same proximity.
“Highway gas stations can also be more expensive because they hold a captive audience coming out of exits, so a high number of these potentially more expensive stations could also drive up the county average,” Petersen said.
Strub noted that if other counties also have freeways, the more sparsely populated Pike County may have a higher percentage of its total number of gas stations very close to I-84, increasing the average price.
Local competition, demographics and the cost of doing business in certain areas can also play a role in gasoline prices, Petersen added.
For example, while New York State had higher gas prices on average than Pennsylvania, two gas stations in the Port Jervis, New York area had lower prices than service from neighboring Matamoras on Thursday.
A station in Port Jervis charged $4,299 per gallon, cash or credit, while a nearby station in Deerpark, New York, charged $4,259 cash and $4,359 credit. Just over the state line in Matamoras, Pennsylvania, gasoline at four stations ranged from $4,499 to $4,569 a gallon of regular unleaded.
Port Jervis/Deerpark stations could be more competitive
with several gas stations near Montague, New Jersey, selling gasoline for $4.239 a gallon Thursday.
On Thursday, average gasoline prices in other NEPA counties also topped the Pennsylvania state average by $4,365, including:
The highest recorded statewide average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Pennsylvania was $4,439 on March 11, 2022, 7.4 cents higher than Thursday’s average, according to AAA. .
Meanwhile, Sheetz on Wednesday announced a promotion of its “88 unleaded” variety of gasoline at a guaranteed price of $3.99 a gallon or less through the end of March.