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Wake up and good morning. Look at the remarkably growing gap above between the top green line -- the rising national average gas price -- and the bottom blue line -- the falling prices of crude oil and wonder. How long will it take for prices at the pump to catch up to lower oil prices? Or will they? Chart: AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Here's what they're saying about gas prices around Tampa Bay, Florida and the nation:

* In Tampa Bay: "While the national average price of gasoline inches closer to $4, Tampa Bay motorists likely won't see that for a while, according to AAA. The average price for regular gas in Tampa on Thursday was $3.90 a gallon. The Florida average was $3.93. Prices continue to rise in Florida - 5 cents in the past week - but at a slower pace because demand is down, said Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South. In the St. Petersburg Times here.... The local ABC Action News reports that HART, Hillsborough County's bus system, sees growing ridership as people try to reduce their gas dependence. HART hit an 11 percent increase over this time last year. and this isn't the first time the buses have gotten a little more crowded. "When we saw gas prices go up in 2008 (in July 2008, area gas prices hit $4), not only did we attract new customers, we retained a lot of them," said HART spokesperson Marcia Mejia... And 10 Connects reports that the owner of a St. Petersburg scooter store -- Bill Lynch of Action Wheel Sports -- has seen about a 30 percent bump in sales and it's mainly because of gas prices. On average, it costs about $5 to fill up the gas tank on a scooter, and that will take you about 130 miles, the story says.

* Around Florida: The Palm Beach Post has the luck task of telling its readers they pay the most for gas statewide. "Regular was $4 a gallon Thursday, up from $3.92 a week ago, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. Palm Beach County has the highest gas prices in the state."... WZVN TV in Fort Myers reports that some area florists are tacking on delivery fees by Sunday for Mother's Day flowers. At Fort Myers Florist on Cleveland Avenue, the floral shop just tacked on a nearly $9 charge for delivery... Vision Airlines, which has service at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, this morning began promoting one-way air fares in a "May Fare" sale as low as $39. Says the company: "These special fares offer consumers the opportunity to fly to their favorite destinations for less than the cost of driving."

* Nationally, how gas prices are affecting the economy: Bloomberg News quotes Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, who says the current "moderate" rate of job growth "is a pace that really wouldn't do much for the unemployment rate." He adds: "There's a lot of slack in the economy, especially in the labor market. Higher gasoline prices have been a restraint in the near-term."... CBS News reports that on average, Americans are now spending nearly 9 percent of their income on gas, double what they paid two years ago.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times

Posted by Robert Trigaux at 7:24:52 am on May 06, 2011