Sun Editorial: Allow self-service gas?

Nope. Not gonna happen. We like it and are willing to pay for it.

By Alan Bauer
The Sun

A new governor could mean big changes for New Jersey. But there’s one thing that likely will remain: Full-service gas stations.

New Jersey is the last state to fully ban self-service gas. Oregon relaxed its rules at the start of the year.

One can make a very logical argument to end the self-service ban here, too. Gas, in theory, could be about 10 to 20 cents cheaper per gallon. Drivers could save time by not having to wait on an attendant. Safety concerns are virtually non-existent. After all, pretty much everybody else figured out how to work a gas pump decades ago.

It’s likely some stations, as a marketing decision, would offer both full- and self-service. It’s even possible to mandate some type of full-service at all stations to assist the elderly and handicapped.

But, suggest a change to some long-time residents and they’ll look at you like you want to take away both their favorite child and their dog. Historically, polls show a vast majority of residents like their full-service gas just the way it is. They don’t want to spend the rest of their day smelling like gas after filling the tank. They don’t want to leave their warm cars during a snowstorm. They are willing to pay a premium for the service.

And that last part is key. The debate over full-service gas isn’t a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. We know what we have. We know what we would give up — and get — if the service stopped. And we choose to keep what we have — or at least the polls say so.

Perhaps public sentiment will change over time and the self-service ban will be modified or go away.

But for now, the people have spoken, and they want their full-service. Let them keep it.