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NEW YORK CITY — Motorists are finding it hard to refuel as gas stations around the city feel the pinch from the real estate boom.
According to The New York Post, the metropolitan area lost just more than 10 percent of its gas stations during the decade ended in 2013, the most recent year for which detailed U.S. Census data is available.
The outer boroughs – The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island— saw a 19-percent decline while Manhattan saw an even greater 40-percent decline.
This gas station shortage may account for the disparity in pricing between Long Island and the city, the report said. The average price for regular gas in the five boroughs is $2.97, while on Long Island it is $2.92, according to Gasbuddy.com.
The key factor driving the decrease in pumps is the city's real estate boom as housing developers often acquiring the land stations occupy.
"Areas that are taking the hit are the populated areas of New York City," said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops.
City gas station owners also face several business challenges, including price competition from New Jersey, declining gas sales margins (which have gone from 15 cents a gallon 10 years ago to the present 10 cents) and environmental regulations that make it difficult to maintain existing gas stations, let alone create new ones, according to the Post.
As a result of margin pressure, gas stations are combining with convenience stores — a little more than half the gas stations in New York City included c-stores as of 2013, up from 30 percent in 2003.
Demand for gasoline is also leveling off. Consumption in the United States came to 137 billion gallons in 2014, off about 4 percent from its 2007 pre-recession peak. Fueled by lower prices at the pump, consumption is expected to increase 1.4 percent this year before falling off again next year, according to the Energy Information Administration.