Gas station system bug sells gas for just 46 cents a gallon

As gas prices continue to fall in the US, a breakdown at a gas station in the Pacific Northwest resulted in prices not seen since the early 1970s.

A system glitch at an Arco station in Yakima, Wash., sent prices to all-time lows Saturday night, with a photo released by KIMA-TV showing a pump priced at $0.46 a gallon.

KIMA reported that the bug spread online throughout the Yakima area, causing the station to be inundated with customers. While most were thrilled to take advantage of the situation, others weren’t so thrilled, lamenting how people “came together to rip off a deal.”

The operators of the Arco station could not estimate how long the glitch was active. On Sunday morning, the station confirmed to KIMA that the issue has been resolved.

gas station price error
A glitch in a gas station’s computer system caused prices to drop below $0.50 a gallon in Washington state on Saturday night.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This isn’t the first time in the past year that a gas station operated by Arco has suffered a price breakdown. In November, KTLA reported that a gas station in Los Angeles was selling gasoline at $0.45 a gallon. While this earlier problem predated the recent rise in gas prices, it was still a sizeable drop due to California’s traditionally high prices, with GasBuddy listing the state’s average at $4.70 a gallon at the time.

One customer interviewed by KTLA, Michael Arteaga, said he bought 15 gallons of gas for $7.20, which was less than some gas stations in California at the time charged a single gallon.

Just like in Yakima, the low prices spread quickly, leading to huge lines of customers hoping to fill up at the station. KTLA noted that at one point, police came to the scene to investigate what was causing the lines of traffic.

Arco has not yet commented on the incidents. news week has asked the company for comment.

Even without breakdowns, drivers have felt a significant relief at the pump in recent weeks. On Thursday, the national median cost per gallon fell below $4 for the first time since March, when prices began to rise. Prices hit historic highs in early June, with the national average topping $5.

As for the recent drop in prices, high prices tend to encourage less motoring, leading to less demand for gasoline, which translates into lower costs. Driving less after holidays like Memorial Day and the 4th of July also contributes.

Some states have also suspended their gas taxes, although the cuts are temporary. Gas station system bug sells gas for just 46 cents a gallon

Rick Schindler

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