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NEW YORK (AP) -- Drivers in the New York area may soon get relief from long lines and higher gas prices.
A week after Superstorm Sandy hit the area, the price of gas has increased 10 cents per gallon or more in the New York City area and in hard-hit parts of New Jersey. Images of long lines of cars and interviews with frustrated drivers have become staples in news coverage of the storm's aftermath.
But across the U.S. the price of gasoline is falling -- fast. It fell 7 cents this past week and has declined almost 9 percent in a month to $3.47 per gallon. The national average should be only slightly higher this Election Day than a year ago. That's due to a dramatic drop in the price of wholesale gasoline and low demand from cautious consumers.
Prices should fall further in the coming weeks, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. Even people in the Northeast now standing or sitting in long lines for gas should catch a break, he believes, as the "hysteria" in New York and New Jersey subsides.
Kloza predicts that within a week, many commuters across the country will be paying less to fill up than at this point last year. The national average is currently about 6 cents higher than a year earlier.
On Sunday, the Energy Department estimated that 27 percent of all gas stations across New York City, Long Island and New Jersey did not have gas to sell. That's down from 38 percent on Saturday. The situation improved as more stations regained electricity and extra supplies were brought in. State and local officials working with the U.S. Coast Guard started this weekend to offload 28 million gallons of fuel from tankers -- about what the metro area burns on a typical day.
The Defense Department also set up mobile fuel stations around the New York metro area to distribute 12 million gallons of gasoline and 10 million gallons of diesel to run generators. The gas is free, and each person can take up to 10 gallons.
Those moves should begin to gradually lead the area back to normal. Then, Kloza said, New York area drivers will able to take advantage of the price relief those in the rest of the U.S. already see. For now, residents of Nassau Country on Long Island will pay about 14 cents more per gallon than a week ago while drivers in Bergen County in northeast New Jersey shell out about 13 cents more.