Bringing a Little New Jersey to Pennsylvania

One Republican lawmaker is upset about the growing lack of full service stations, so he’s introducing a bill to mandate stations maintain at least one full service pump. I’m not in favor of such a mandate, but thinking about the problem, it probably wouldn’t be all that difficult to build a robot that could pump gas.

23 thoughts on “Bringing a Little New Jersey to Pennsylvania”

  1. People in wheelchairs. People all dressed for court appearances who don’t want to get gasoline on their nice suit.

    As much as the libertarian in me is offended by Oregon’s law that prohibits self-serve pumps, there is some merit to the idea that it is better for a person with limited job skills to be working, even at minimum wage, rather than be sitting at home, dependent on the state. In the long run, which is better for the society? People who have never worked? Or people with at least the dignity that comes from doing a job, even a menial job.

    1. Every service station I’ve been to has notices up for any disabled people who need help with the pumps to either press a button or honk, and the staff will come out to assist you. I’d like to see evidence that this doesn’t work for disabled people before we go making a law that’s going to up the prices for everyone.

  2. I’m sure Rep. Creighton is just ensuring his future employment. You know, after the people in his district discover he is too stupid to breathe without assistance from his staff.

  3. That was one of my HUGE pet peeves when I worked in Jersey, it would take FOREVER to get my truck juiced up because I’d have to pull up to the pump, wait for the pump jockey who was trying hard to muster a pulse to come over. Give him my order….then wait for him to fill me up….then when the tank was full wait for him to get around to returning the nozzle and running my card.

    Any other place I’d be in-and-out of there in half the time or less.

  4. What’s the law in Pennsylvania as far as disabled access to self serve gas? Are station employees required to go out and pump gas for them?

  5. The signs that I see indicate that staff will come and assist disabled customers if they have at least two persons on duty at the time. I’m not arguing in favor of such a law; I’m pointing out that there are unexpected effects of such laws, and they may not be entirely bad.

    Most places that have both self-serve and full-serve generally offer a substantial price advantage for self-serve.

  6. …and I suppose that the law will require the stations to NOT charge more for the full service pump.

    I can think of one gas station in my regular travels here in Indiana where that has full service pumps, and it’s in a small town.

  7. Growing lack?

    Of the last 10 years, I’ve spent 6 in Arizona, 3 in southern New Hampshire, and 1 in western NY. In that time, including two one-way road trips from New England to Arizona, I can’t recall more than a handful of full service gas pumps outside of NJ, where they are mandatory.

    I really had thought they were essentially gone, except in states tha mandated them, once pay-at-the-pump credit terminals came into being.

  8. That legislator is a horses #$$. Considering the profit margin on gasoline is near break even, there will be two results of such a stupid law. One, stations on the edge will simply stop selling fuel, or go out of business altogether, and Two, gasoline prices will rise across the board, state wide, to pay the added wages for unnecessary people.

    People ask me why New Jersey requires attendants to pump fuel….. I tell them the legislature in that state realized anyone STUPID enough to vote them into office certainly can’t be trusted with pumping their own gasoline!

  9. Ok, this might be nice in Michigan in the winter, but other than that I can’t see the need for it. I can pump my own gas.

    It seems like too big of a solution to a tiny problem. Using a butcher’s knife for cosmetic surgery.

  10. With credit card readers being ubiquitous on gas pumps, why don’t we go the other way and have completely unmanned filling stations?

    Such stations seem to be common, though not universal, in Europe.

    Seems like a great idea to cut down on overhead.

  11. OK, my first reaction was “WTF?”

    Then I actually read it. Places with six or more pumps… Not too much of a strain, even at “convenience store” operations with a single on-site employee. Slight inconvenience, yes, at perhaps having to do something about customers in the store itself. DiBono contradicts himself on this, saying that going out to help is already done but complaining that an additional person might have to be hired to handle it: Huh?

  12. See, Republicans really aren’t much different from Democrats. This one’s just trying to set himself up a long-term constituency, just like they did over in Jersey.

    It’s all about money, or something. An ex from Jersey explained it to me once, my brain just boiled it down to “patronage”. They sure do get really pissed over there if you try to pump your own.

  13. “People ask me why New Jersey requires attendants to pump fuel….. I tell them the legislature in that state realized anyone STUPID enough to vote them into office certainly can’t be trusted with pumping their own gasoline!”

    I’ve had Oregonians tell me that the reason they prohibited self-serve is because Oregonians aren’t smart enough to pump their own gas safely. My first (and second, and third) reaction was uproarious laughter. But oddly enough, there is some history to this. There was an accident in the 1930s near Tigard where someone pumping his own gas managed to cause an explosion that killed a number of people–although the ban apparently did come in until 1951.

    Laws passed in response to a crisis often persist long after the crisis. Hence, California’s Board of Fabric Care, regulating dry cleaners, passed right after World War II. California used to have a law prohibiting the sale of bread loaves under one pound, because of post-war bakers selling loaves that were just under one pound–but close enough that consumers didn’t notice that they were slightly smaller.

  14. I’ll always remember having to show a ~40yo guy from Jersey (looked like a Sopranos extra) how to lift the little lever to turn on the pump because he couldn’t understand the worker on the PA system. And 6 pumps is nothing, almost all of them have 8 or 12 here because you serve gas on two sides and two cars deep per island.

    One of my friends in college was studying his rear off to be a chemical engineer but knew his graduation present would be a gas station (his dad owned 4 of them), they make zero monetary profit on credit card sales, they receive their 2-3% as “free” gas in the next shipment. Cash customers they make 2-3% per gallon but almost all of the profit is on candy and drink sales inside.

  15. There was a push a few years back to eliminate the requirement for full-serve in NJ; it failed. Even the reliably libertarians of the talk radio station I listen to (NJ101.5) were against the elimination for some reason.

    Self-serve pumps are about as roboticized as we’re like to get any time soon. Think about the steps necessary to locate the fuel fill door, open it, locate the gas cap, open that, insert the hose, fill, retract, close cap, close lid; in an environment where nothing is standardized and the automobile owner may have taken active measures to conceal the fuel fill door (painted to conceal, etc) or prevent access entirely (fuel fill door locks – I don’t always remember to release mine when I pull up). Then add maintenance on the sensors and servo stops necessary to prevent Robby the Fuel Bot from punching a hole through the right rear quarter panel or ripping the fuel fill door off. At least with a human you can dock their pay for idiocy.

    A lot of the problems above can be solved by action on the vehicle owner’s part – I fully expect the army’s fuel depots (at least “in the rear”) to replace PFC Snuffy with Robby the Fuel Bot in the near future. Possibly fleet owners with their own fuel stations. General public, not so much.

  16. Where in the Constitution could the authority for such a mandate be found?
    And why in hell do I feel like a crackpot pointing this out? Doesn’t ANYONE think of that anymore?

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