Rising gas prices lead to changes

Ziv Galpaz

For many high school students, driving is a big part of our pastime.

In the past two years, inflation, coupled with global instability from back-to-back traumas, from COVID shutdowns to the war in Ukraine to civil unrest, have led to an unstable environment, and our growing pain at the pump.

As of April 1, California leads the nation with the cost of regular gas at $5.88 a gallon, though prices are expected to dip slightly with news that President Joe Biden will release millions of gallons of oil in the country’s reserves.

Despite the temporary relief, the high prices of not just gas, but the cost to live and thrive in the Bay Area, weigh heavily on its residents.

A large part of growing up is being able to take our cars and explore the place we live in. Because the Bay Area isn’t lacking for things to do, cars are a key for exploration. Driving down Highway 17 to go to the beach with friends while blasting your music as the wind blows in your hair is something to be experienced. But with the rising gas prices, the ability to go to Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and even to downtowns will be limited as the price of gas will hit teens’ wallets hard.

Rising gas prices is not only a cause for concern nationally, but is heavily pressing on the Bay Area as the cost of living is already very high and many families are not able to afford rising living costs. With gas prices increasing, commuting to work, school, and activities are becoming more difficult and painful on the pocket.

The average price of gas in California has soared to a record high $5.88 per gallon, and is expected to rise even more with the invasion of Ukraine according to the San Francisco chronicle. However this price is not reflective of the Bay Area in itself which is average closer to 5.9-6.2 dollars per gallon. 

Considering the rise of gas being over 12 cents per gallon  in San Jose during the recent weeks, the price of driving has been concerning many local residents.

In a survey I conducted of over 200 Bay Area high schoolers, over 87% are concerned on how rising gas prices will affect their day to day lives.  When the gas itself rises, other commodities alike rise. In an area that already has an immensely high cost of living this is concerning. 

Inflation has risen to 7.9% nationally, the highest percentage since 1982, and it isn’t just gas prices that are going up. Basic commodities such as meat, milk, bread, fruits, and everyday activities and programs are becoming more and more expensive.

 In the Bay Area, inflation affects people beyond the pump. When eating out becomes more expensive, grocery items become more expensive. And instead of going out, you stay in to save gas, but now you are paying an increased price for electricity and water. Bay Area residents are reeling from an overall increased cost of living, which is already 80% higher than the national average. 

As the war in Ukraine lasts longer and longer, and sanctions are not being lifted, the global necessity for gas is in higher demand. As a major supplier, Russia is no longer part of the supply chain that heavily affects Europe. With them no longer supplying Europe’s oil, the U.S. will have to aid Europe and this increases the supply and demand which leads to an increase of gas prices. 

With the rising prices and the war not ending there doesn’t seem to be a soon end to rising gas. With only 20% of residents in the Bay Area using public transit daily and during the pandemic the rate dipping lower, gas prices will start to limit my ability to do the things I enjoy. VTA is offering $1.25 single ride, but because of how sparse stations are, its not an option I can really try. 

With public transportation in San Jose notoriously spread out and underdeveloped, using VTA services, despite their low fares, are not viable options.


Although there is no clear cut solution to the issue, it can be the catalyst for a change in our actions. Cutting back on car dependability, carpooling, and finding ways to get around without a car, are all things that we can do to tackle the rising gas prices amid a global climate crisis. 

As a student who is employed only in the summer, and relies heavily on driving to get to my extracurriculars, this new reality of needing to pay nearly 70 dollars per tank that I have to refill every week or so, is rather daunting.