Driving just got more expensive in New Jersey.
At 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, a 23-cent increase in the state gasoline tax went into effect, the first increase in 28 years.
The tax per gallon is now 37.5 cents per gallon, the sixth highest in the nation. The previous tax of 14,5 cents had been the second lowest in the nation behind Alaska.
The gas tax increase was part of a deal between Gov. Christie and lawmakers that includes an 8-year, $16 billion transportation trust fund and cuts to the estate and sales taxes.
New Jersey voters will vote next week on a Constitutional Amendment that would dedicate all gas tax revenues to transportation projects.
The rise in prices caused consumers to see the immediate impact on their wallets. And gas station owners said there was a decrease in business Tuesday.
Mike Spearman of Sicklerville paid $41 Tuesday to fill his Kia at the Mount Ephraim BP station on the Black Horse Pike. His daily round trip commute to Swedesboro is 66 miles.
The cash price for gas at the BP was $2.35 Tuesday.
"That's ridiculous," Spearman said of the increase, which he said means he must cut other purchases. "It's a lot more out of my budget for gas."
At the Belmawr Shell station on the Black Horse Pike, manager Aman Singh said business was down at least 35 to 45 percent. Gas was $2.22 cash Tuesday compared to $1.99 Monday.
"Today business is dead," Singh said. On Monday, customers rushed to the pumps, some filling up twice after running errands, said Singh. He said in addition to the 23-cent hike, the market is going up for oil, which means a possible additional 12-cent increase this week.
The price increases will cause a loss of Pennsylvania customers who came to New Jersey to shop and buy gas. Truckers also are likely to skip buying gas in New Jersey, especially those going through Delaware, which now has cheaper gas. A single truck is a $300 to $400 sale, Singh said. And lower gas sales means fewer sales in the food mart, he said.
"If nobody comes outside, than no one comes inside," Singh said. "Philly, they're done. They won't come over to buy gas in New Jersey unless they are already on this side for something else like visiting family."