The Number of Gas Stations in Manhattan is Shrinking

New Yorkers are used to waiting in line. But now, they have to do it just to get gas for their cars. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.

Filling up in Manhattan these days is more frustrating than ever, so frustrating that some drivers take the tunnel to New Jersey just to get gas.

"I'd rather pay the $15 than sit at a gas station for an hour," said one driver.

The reason for the lines? Gas stations in Manhattan are becoming extinct.

Fire Department records show 52 gas stations in 2008. Now, there are just 31, and most of them are north of 96th Street.

South of 23rd Street, good luck filling up. A Mobil in the West Village on Eighth Avenue near West 13th Street is the last gas station standing after the BP on Lafayette and Houston streets closed last year to make way for high-end office space.

That's been the story across a large swath of Manhattan as luxury developments, mostly pricey condos, take the place of old gas stations, like on 10th Avenue and 24th Street. 

"It's just good business to get rid of it, live on what you made and let them turn it into an apartment house," said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the Gasoline and Automotive Service Dealers' Association.

Tommy Hondros, the owner of the Mobil in the West Village, says developers would love to get their hands on his property.

"They approach me all the time, but I tell them all the time that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon," he said.  

All the closures, he says, have made business brisker than ever. Regular unleaded gas at Tommy Hondros' station sells for $3.55 a gallon -- about $1 more than the coast at a gas station on 125th Street.

With so few gas stations, the demand gets so great that the line at some stations during peak driving hours can stretch into the street.  

It's a far cry from the days when gassing up in Manhattan was easy. The now-trendy area around Houston and Lafayette used to be known as Gasoline Alley.

Taxi drivers say they now have to strategize about when to stop for gas.

"After 4, forget it," said one taxi driver. "That's why I come before 4. After 4, there's a line down the road."

With more gas stations likely to close in the future, those lines are only going to get longer .

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