Drivers race to get super cheap gas, traffic problems shut it down

Unleaded gasoline was $2.39 a gallon but not anymore

Drivers race to get super cheap gas, traffic problems shut it down

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Cars were lined up around the block to fill up their tanks early Thursday.  

"It's insane. The gas is $2.39 today," said customer Erika Sanchez, who was disappointed she only had half a tank to fill. 

The Arco station on Cook Street and Gerald Ford Drive in Palm Desert slashed its gas prices to commemorate the end of the government shutdown.

"We were excited about the government reopening and me and my wife decided let's give back to the community," said Nachhattar Chandi, owner of the station.

Across the street, the Mobil station followed suit, lowering their prices to $2.45 for a gallon of regular. 

"I think they're having a war with the other gas station about who can lower their gas prices the fastest," said customer Sarie Gonsalves, who spent $50 filling up her car today instead of the usual $80 she is used to paying.  

Profit margins on gas are extremely low, and while drivers saved a ton of money Chandi said his station took quite a hit.

"It was over $52,000 or $53,000 cost to the company to do this today," Chandi said, adding that he will pay taxes on the full price per gallon rather than the discounted price.  

The cheap prices were supposed to last until midnight, but traffic began to back up and block fire lanes, causing corporate to step in.  

"There was no lane left to pass through so we decided at that point as a safety issue to shut it down," Chandi said.

The prices have since gone back up to $3.45 a gallon, making for some disappointed drivers that heard the news late.  

The last time average gas prices in California were as low as today was back in 2009.

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