May 23, 2024

Local gas stations, customers mostly positive about new self-serve pumps

Cliff Mead of Shady Cove fills his car with gas Wednesday in Central Point. Rogue Valley Times photo by Andy Atkinson
August 10, 2023

Full-serve option still required, but people can now fill it up themselves

By James Sloan, Rogue Valley Times

Gas station attendants and residents in the Rogue Valley are adjusting to Oregon’s new law allowing patrons to pump their own gas, with encouraging feedback.

“It makes my job a little bit easier, and it’s less stress for the customers, so on both ends of it I think it’s an improvement honestly,” said attendant Wade Hardaway, who was working Wednesday at the Medford Shell station on North Central Avenue.

Gov. Tina Kotek signed House Bill 2426 into law last week, repealing a 72-year ban on self-serve gasoline in the state.

The law lets gas station users continue to have their gas pumped by an attendant per usual, and station owners are permitted to open some unattended pumps for drivers to fill up their own tanks. Most stations are still required to staff at least half of their pumps, according to the law.

“I really like the way that people have the option now,” Hardaway said. “They can either pump on their own, or they can wait and let me pump it.”

“It takes out all of the ability for people to be able to scam and stuff, which is really nice,” Hardaway added.

According to Hardaway and attendant Tommy Holland, who works at a Chevron station on East Pine Street in Central Point, the vast majority of customers still prefer to have their fuel pumped for them.

“People have been coming in, and they pump their own at times, but nine times out of 10, they’re still preferring us to pump their gas,” Holland said.

“Most of them like us to do it, but there are about 10% or 15%, and they insist on doing it on their own,” Hardaway said.

The law received bipartisan support prior to the governor’s signature, but some have argued that the self-serve gas law will take away jobs.

“At first I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to lose any work or anything, but it hasn’t ended up that way,” Hardaway said.

Supporters of the new law argue that it will make filling up at the pump much faster than waiting for an attendant to get to them.

“I’ve been following this for a while, and as soon as (lawmakers) said yeah, I thought that was great,” said Cliff Mead of Shady Cove, who was filling up his vehicle at a self-serve pump in Central Point. “I hate waiting in line, and if I don’t have to, I can pump my own gas and it’s done. It’s over.”

“I don’t think it’s going to cost as many jobs as everybody thinks it is, but this is a good thing. This gives us the opportunity to be able to get in and get out and get on with our day,” Mead added.

With the passage of HB 2426, New Jersey is now the only state that doesn’t let drivers pump their own gas.

Hardaway praised the newfound efficiency he’s noticed while tending to customers at the gas station.

“It’s been more efficient is the thing that I’ve been finding. It’s been a lot more efficient on both ends,” said Hardaway, who’s been working at his gas station since 2016. “People appreciate me being able to help them, but they also like to be able to get their gas and go, so it kind of speeds the process up a bit, which is really good.”

The main challenge he’s been facing is informing patrons on how to navigate and pay at the pump without accidentally hitting the wrong button or restarting the process.

“I’ve got a lot of regulars, and they really appreciate having somebody here,” Hardaway said. “A lot of the elderly and the disabled really appreciate us being here to help them out too.”

The ban on self-serve gas was introduced in Oregon in 1951, with lawmakers at the the time citing safety concerns over toxic fumes and citizens slipping on wet surfaces while pumping gas in rainy weather.

Reach reporter James Sloan at This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

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Bert Etling

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