As local gas prices continue to exceed the historically high national average of $3.50 per gallon, Santa Barbara residents and businesses alike are increasingly feeling pinched at the pump.

According to data taken from a dozen different gas stations, the average price per gallon of gasoline in Goleta is $4.09, slightly higher than the $3.93 average in Santa Barbara. Fuel stations closest to campus advertised the highest price in the area, with the Chevron on Storke Rd. and the Mobil station on Calle Real selling regular unleaded gas for $4.39 per gallon of regular gasoline.

Second year Santa Barbara City College student Kiley Mercado said she believes the student population of Isla Vista is particularly affected by rising gas prices.

“It’s really unfair that people in I.V. are being made to pay such high prices for gas, especially because most of us are college students who don’t have very high paying jobs,” Mercado said.

Cheaper gas can be found by those willing to venture a bit further from campus, with the 76 Station on Winchester Canyon Road selling gas for $4.09 per gallon and the Exxon and Arco stations at Fairview offering regular fuel for $3.93 per gallon. Still, some students are feeling unduly targeted by the high prices closest to campus.

Mercado, who estimates that her Ford pickup-truck gets about 12 miles to the gallon, says that it costs her over $100 every time she fills her tank – more than twice as much as when she bought it in 1997.

Moreover, Mercado said that she and her roommates found it nearly impossible to make trips home to the Bay Area to visit family and friends, as the round-trip fuel cost of doing so was over $200.

“I actually really want to go home, but I can’t,” she said.

Santa Barbara businesses are likewise being forced to adjust to the abnormally high cost of fuel. Mike McBain, CEO of the local Central Courier, Inc., said that his operational costs have increased significantly with rising fuel costs, causing his profits to shrink. Consequently, his company has recently started adding a “gas surcharge” to the standard price of their services. Customers are now charged an additional one percent charge for every twenty-cent gas increase.

“Most of our customers understand that prices are going up. It helps us get back some of the costs,” McBain said. “Everybody sees it, so people are generally willing to pay.”

“It’s ridiculous!” said one Chevron customer referring to the price she was paying to fill her tank.