The gas pumps at US Petro in Roslindale are about to get a whole lot busier.
On Monday evening, just before close, the four-pump operation may have become the first gas station in Massachusetts to sell regular gasoline for less than $2 a gallon.
According to the website GasBuddy.com, which shares user submissions of gas prices, the gas station at 1422 Centre Street is selling the cheapest gas in the state for $1.99 a gallon. That’s down 30 cents from before, according to Justin Zahreddine, the station’s manager and the son of its owner.
“It’s busier than normal, but not too crazy right now,” said Zahreddine in a brief phone call Tuesday morning. “Pretty average.”
The catch: $1.99 is the price if you pay cash. For credit-card purchases, the price is $2.09 a gallon. But either way, it’s a full-service station, so you don’t have to get out of the car in the cold and pump it yourself.
US Petro is a pretty bare-bones operation. Set between an auto repair shop and a 7-11 convenience store, the place sells motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, gas, and cigarettes. That’s it. Cards get swiped inside, and sales stop at 7:30 p.m. Many customers -- mostly commuters from Dedham, West Roxbury, and Roslindale -- pay cash.
“I saw this last night and I knew I had to come back,” said Liz Offen, a West Roxbury resident who commutes along Centre Street. She planned on paying $30 cash, but her tank filled up after just $23 worth. Turning over her shoulder, she asks Zahreddine, “How are you guys doing this?”
He won’t say. Like many gas stations, though, he said US Petro buys wholesale, fills its underground tank every four or five days, and then marks up its prices to pay its margin. In between cars, Zahreddine said he normally watches Netflix or plays games on his laptop. On Tuesday, though, it was likely to be a lot of media interviews.
“I wasn’t even driving the last time I remember gas this cheap,” said Daniel Stearns, 22, a commuter from Brockton who stops at US Petro regularly to fill up his Mazda RX8. “I was maybe 12 years old.”
Still, some people were skeptical about how long prices could stay this low.
“I don’t trust it,” said Melissa van Homme, who regularly fills up at US Petro on the way to her dog walking business in Jamaica Plain. “There’s gotta be some political reason for it.”
The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded self-serve gasoline in Massachusetts dropped to $2.36 last week, according to AAA of Southern New England. Gasoline prices are at their lowest level since 2009 amid an oil glut on world markets. The price of crude oil dropped below $50 a barrel on Monday for the first time since April 2009 -- which was also the last time gas prices were this low, according to AAA.
And US Petro may not be alone. Tuesday morning, according to GasBuddy, Edwards Gas in Southbridge also dropped its price to $1.99.