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DENVER – In 2000, before the words "addicted to oil," and "gas gouging" became household catch phrases, online gas price tracking site GasBuddy.com was reporting daily gasoline prices using volunteers' information on their local stations.
"Hardly anybody ever used it," Jason Toews, Brooklyn Park, Minn. native and creator of the Web site, told The Associated Press.
But, as prices rose, the site traffic did as well. By 2004, one million people were visiting the site daily, although the numbers dropped when prices went down, the report stated.
Today, with prices at a nationwide average of $3.22 per gallon, according to AAA, the site's traffic is likely to break the four million visitor record the site holds.
The traffic is so high the site has had to upgrade its hardware to handle the flow. "We have had to buy more servers and it looks like we will need more," he told the AP. GasBuddy.com claims to report information on more than 900,000 stations through several hundred thousand registered volunteers, the report stated.
Toews' is not the only site that has seen hits rise along with prices. GasPriceWatch.com has also seen traffic spiral, according to the report.
Brad Proctor, founder of GasPriceWatch.com in Centerville, Ohio, said his site added prices for ethanol, biodiesel, truck diesel and ultra-low-sulfur diesel. Hits on his site have doubled and during peak periods, up to eight people log in every second, he told the Journal.
Other information channels are also using technology to provide gas price data to consumers. Cell phone provider, Mobio Networks, launched a free service last week that tells its customers the cheapest gasoline prices in their area, according to the report.
Consumers can even bet on the future of gas prices. BetUS.com, a sports betting Web site, lists the odds for the national average exceeding $3.50 before the end of the year, and a separate bet on the odds of gas falling to below $2.50 per gallon before the end of the year.
But Toews and co-founder Dustin Coupal, an ophthalmologist, remain modest on the site's profits.
"We do have enough advertising to sustain the operation," Toews said.