Gas Price Pilgrimage: How do our gas prices compare with other cities across the region?

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Gas prices are falling throughout most of the country, but they're still high. The average price of gas right now in Indiana is about $3.70 a gallon. And as people start to travel for the summer, and the Memorial Day holiday, the high price of gasoline is going to sting. But some believe it hurts more in this area than in other places across the region.

So we wanted to find out: How do our prices compare with the other places you might be traveling to this spring?

On any given day, you'll find different gas prices at different gas stations in the same city. But no matter what the marquee signs say, the consensus among drivers is the same:

"They are pretty high," says Eric Wardford of Detroit.

"I still think they are little bit high," says Warren Alwine of Elkhart.

Father of two, Warren Alwine fills up his tank for no less than $40. Like most drivers, he picks the gas station with the cheapest gas, but he still feels he pays more than drivers in other parts of the region.

"I don't know why Northern Indiana has a higher than average gas price," says Alwine.

Is Alwine's observation correct? Are gas prices here in Michiana higher than in other parts of the region? We went on the road to find out.

When we left South Bend on Thursday, the average price of gas was $3.76.

Our first stop: Circle City -- Indianapolis:

The average price in the Capital City on Thursday was about $3.72 -- 4 cents cheaper than South Bend. But we found gas for cheaper than that. One station was selling gasoline for 13 cents less than South Bend at $3.63.

"It seems like it is more expensive up north for some reason," says Angie Vennall, of Indianapolis.

She is right...sort of.
 
The next stop on our gas price pilgrimage: Chicago -- home of Navy Pier, Wrigley Field and $4.50 gasoline.

In fact, for about the same amount of money as you pay for one gallon of gas in Chicago, you can ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, or buy a hotdog near Wrigley Field or go check out the Bean at Millenium Park.

The average price of gas on Thursday in Chicago was about $4.20 and drivers are willing to pay this much to make their way around the city.
 
"You got me by the ankles here," says Renault Frazier of Chicago, "I need that car. I need to be able to get to work quickly. I need to get home, go grocery shopping. I know you can do it on the bus but I would rather do it in my car."

Back on the road again, this time headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan -- and much tamer gas prices. The average on Friday morning -- about $3.71 -- 3 cents cheaper than South Bend.

"It doesn't really matter how high it is, you still are going to have to put gas in your car. Yeah, you cringe but it is one of those things where yeah, you have to do it," says Russ Marzean of Grand Rapids.

In Fort Wayne, drivers get off easy. Gas Prices were under $3.70 on Friday.

And in Detroit: we found drivers have the best prices around -- gas last week was on average about $3.65 there.

"I'm proud of Detroit, I'm proud of where I live," says Eric Wardford of Detroit.

Even with low per gallon numbers, no one is getting of unscathed when you add it up.

"It is definitely troubling when you have to spend 50 and 60 dollars for gas to fill up your tank that will last you a week," says Wardford.

So, why do prices tend to vary from city to city?

According to some experts, here are just some of the factors:

--Where you are in relation to an oil refinery: It is more expensive to transport fuel long distances. So the closer you are to a refinery the better price you may pay. 

--The output of that particular oil refinery.

--Taxes: For example, Illinois has some of the highest taxes on gas. Add onto that Chicago's high sales tax, and city tax that is one reason why Chicago prices are so high.

--The cost of doing business.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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