the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, New Jersey lawmakers are considering letting the state’s residents pump their own gas for the first time in decades – except hardly anyone actually wants to.
Some 73% of Jersey residents said they still want someone to pump their gas for them, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Thursday. Just 22% of respondents said they’d rather pump their own.
Legislation introduced last week would give gas stations the option to offer self-service pumps, the first time since the 1940s that locals would have that choice. (New Jersey remains one of only two states to keep people from filling their own tanks.)
New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association (NJGCA) say wait a minute , the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll asked the wrong question of New Jerseyans about self-service gas, according to Sal Risalvato, the executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association (NJGCA).
The poll conducted February 25 – March 4 asked voters, “do you prefer to pump your own gas or have your gas pumped for you?” While the poll was being conducted, legislation was introduced in the state Assembly on February 28 allowing for a hybrid fueling model in New Jersey.
The “Motorist Fueling Choice and Convenience Act” would allow gas stations the option of offering self-serve, while still requiring stations with more than four dispensers to continue to offer full-service gas pumps, giving consumers the option to pump their own gas if they wish.
“The poll asked voters the wrong question,” Risalvato said. “It’s not a binary choice between self-serve and full-serve. The legislation would mandate gas stations continue to offer full-serve while giving customers the option of pumping their own gas.”
Risalvato said the results of the survey would have been different had the question been phrased to more accurately reflect the legislative proposal.
A 2020 poll conducted by GBAO Research + Strategy on behalf of the NJGCA found that 44% favored a proposal “allowing people a choice to pump their own gas” while 50% opposed. And once voters learn more about a proposal guaranteeing motorists a choice, support increased for self-serve, with 53% in favor and 43% opposed, according to the poll, which was conducted November 2020 of 500 registered voters.
“It’s clear from our internal polling that when people know they have a choice to pump their own or continue to receive full service, support for the proposal increases significantly while opposition melts away like yesterday’s snow,” Risalvato said. “What’s before the legislature right now is something that 100% of New Jerseyans can support.”
Risalvato noted that self-serve gas is expected to save motorists at least 15 cents a gallon, which could further increase support at a time of rising gas prices as a result of the Russian-initiated war in Ukraine.
“Not only did previous polls show consumer support when asked if they would like a choice, but both this recent poll and our previous poll didn’t ask if consumers would prefer self-serve if they could save 15 cents a gallon,” Risalvato said. “What do you think respondents would answer to that question today?”
State Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano responded to the introduction of Assembly bill A3105,“Various forms of self-service have been foisted on us for years and it has never once led to a reduction in costs,” added Assemblyman McGuckin. “At the grocery store, we must now scan and bag our own items at checkout because clerks are few and far between. At the bank, we are now forced to conduct every transaction, from depositing checks to withdrawing cash, via clunky ATMs because tellers have all but disappeared. And yet, this transition to self-service never reduced grocery prices or bank fees. It only inconvenienced the consumer.”
“On the surface, this legislation may seem like a sensible idea, but upon further examination, it provides zero benefit to the consumer in the long term” said Assemblyman Catalano. “We all know what happened to the hybrid model in other states—it disappeared forever and people are now required to pump their own gas. If this bill eventually becomes law, New Jersey will have once again created more problems than the one it allegedly solved.”