Gas prices jumped up last week across much of Iowa, ending a slow decline in prices. Jason Toewes of Minnesota created a do-it-yourself fuel-price reporting website — www.gasbuddy.com — after he kept finding he’d just filled his tank when he spotted a cheaper gas price somewhere else. He says he was frustrated that he had no way to know what prices were being charged, so he first tried calling stations but quickly found they don’t like giving prices over the phone. So he came up with the idea for having a website where people could share tips on where the cheapest gas could be found. “And then our website was born,” he says. The idea caught on quickly and he found himself creating local and regional offshoots. There are 173 local gas-prices websites. There’s a statewide Iowa page as well as separate listings for prices in Des Moines and the Quad Cities. Toews says the whole system relies on public-spirited drivers willing to tell everyone what they find at stations in their region. “We actually rely on volunteers to report the prices they spot on their daily commute,” Toews says. They log on to the website, punch in the price and the station with its location, and the webmaster says that happens “thousands of times a day, so we get a good selection and a good variety of gas prices.” Those volunteers have registered ahead of time to do the job, one reason the website’s host is not worried that they’ll file inaccurate or prank reports. “People take it very seriously,” Toews says. “We get a lot of the same people coming back every day to the website to report prices and they’re just ordinary people like you and I — people who are frustrated by the high prices.” Today’s reports on www.iowastategasprices.com indicate some of the highest prices are around Milford and Spirit Lake where gas is selling for $2.29 a gallon, and Storm Lake and Ames have among the lowest at under $2.15 a gallon.
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