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Ask Dr. Delay: Full-service gas stations nearly extinct

Nearly two years ago, the Doc reported on the lamentable loss of full-service gas stations in the area. Unfortunately, that number has dwindled further; it looks like we are down to two full-service gas stations in St. Petersburg: Bob Lee's Tire Co. at 1631 Fourth St. N and Dave & Michelle's Amoco-BP at 7424 Fourth St. N

Some service stations have stopped selling gasoline altogether, like Ahern's Chevron on Gulfport Boulevard in South Pasadena, although it still services vehicles.

Just to be sure we're all on the same page here, a full-service gas station is not one that provides on-demand fuel assistance in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires that assistance be available to individuals with handicaps at no charge.

And, like the last time the Doc did a survey of gas stations around the county, most employees described their stores as "full service." But when I asked whether they checked tire pressure and fluid levels, they allowed that no, they help with gas pumping only. One guy actually seemed affronted and barked: "This ain't New Jersey, you know!" before hanging up on me.

A full-service station means there's someone at the ready to pump fuel and maybe even smile and ask how you're doing. As my colleague Andrew Meacham reported last week in his coverage of the unexpected death of "Big John" Gray, who pumped gas for customers for 12 years at Bob Lee's, going to get gas there "is almost like going to the barber. Attendants will fill the tank for you, check fluids, wipe the windshield and put air in your tires."

And relationships sometimes develop between attendants and customers. That's certainly the case at Dave & Michelle's, where Bret Roberts says he has gotten to know a lot of his customers quite well.

"You'd be surprised by the number of people who really don't know how to use the pumps or aren't sure how to use their credit cards. We see people of all ages who need help, and I like being able to look out for them," said Roberts, 25.

If we missed any full-service gas stations, let us know.

Shuttle to ball games extended to July 21

The free baseball shuttle, which provides rides from downtown St. Petersburg to Tropicana Field, has been scheduled to operate for each Tampa Bay Rays home game through July 21.

The shuttles, which complete loops every 10 minutes or so, start running 90 minutes before the game and run until one hour after the game or one hour after a postgame concert.

The stop is at Second Street between Central Avenue and First Avenue S (under the pedestrian bridge connecting the Bank of America Tower and South Core garage). Motorists may park in the South Core garage by entering from First Avenue S between First and Second streets. Visit stpetetrolley.com for information.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring.

E-mail Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.

Ask Dr. Delay: Full-service gas stations nearly extinct 06/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2011 4:31am]
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