Pain at the gas pump eased in Bedford

BEDFORD – It’s been said there are no winners in war.

Except, that is, a gasoline price war – at least if the lines at the Bedford turnpike-interchange Sheetz are any indication.

On Wednesday, regular gas sold at three neighboring stations for $3.36 a gallon, a rate roughly 40 cents below those at stations throughout the region. While employees wouldn’t identify a single cause for the price gap, customers at the Business Route 220 Sheetz, GetGo and Shell stations were content to take advantage.

“I can’t believe it. I’m from Somerset County. … I’m like ‘$3.36? Am I seeing that right,'” said Chris Harbaugh of Berlin, waiting to fill her car at Sheetz. “Up in Somerset, I’m paying $3.79. It’s ridiculous.”

Lines snaked through the lot Wednesday, with cars, motor homes and work trucks vying for pumps. A few drivers, tired of waiting, backed out and drove away.

The price battle has raged on and off for at least a few weeks, some drivers said at the pumps, with a few noting similarly low prices in past weeks or months. For a 15-gallon tank, filling up at the turnpike interchange could cost $50.40 versus $56.85 elsewhere.

“Three months ago, we were down here, and there was a price war going on,” said Tracy Fleming of Carrolltown, traveling to New Jersey with Rich Norris of Williamsburg. “I personally think it’s great. If they can charge these prices here, they can charge them anywhere.”

While all the stations clustered around the on-ramp had dropped rates to the same level, it wasn’t clear who fired the first volley in the price battle. Employees and managers at Sheetz and GetGo declined to comment on the record; corporate representatives for all three companies weren’t available for comment on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Dick Roberts, spokesman for Giant Eagle, said in an email: “Prior to the opening of the Bedford GetGo location on May 12, area Giant Eagle customers did not have a quick and convenient way to redeem fuelperks! rewards. As a way of celebrating the new benefit of realizing fuel savings close to home, a limited time 20-cents fuelperks! promotion was introduced at the grand opening of the Bedford GetGo location.

“With a focus on providing great value for our customers, our fuel is competitively priced within each community. Lastly, we comply with all government laws and regulations.”

At first glance, all that’s changed in recent months at the interchange is the addition of a GetGo, the Giant Eagle-affiliated gas station brand found throughout the region. The station opened in spring, replacing a former Gulf station at the same site.

Inside the stores, harried looking employees took on lines of customers, some drawn to the stations by word of mouth and taking time out of their days just to fill their tanks.

It’s not immediately clear how much longer the price war will continue or how it began, but for some – like Sandy Moyer of Bedford, whose husband tipped her off Wednesday – the cause is immaterial.

“I don’t know, but I’m taking advantage of it,” she said.

This story was updated to include Giant Eagle’s July 31 response.