Gas prices jump 30 cents

WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It seems West Michigan can't seem to catch a break when it comes to gas prices.

Many area gas stations boosted prices by as much as 30 cents from where they were Wednesday.

We were on a roll. Gas prices nationally had gone down for the last 30 days.

But not Thursday. There was a big jump throughout the Great Lakes region, and it's because of gas stations trying to compete with each other.

Drivers in West Michigan say they are confused at how gas could go up so much in such a short time.

"That seems to be their way of doing it, always 25 to 35 cents but when it comes down it's only a penny or two at a time," said Richard Bowen.

Many stations were as low as $3.25 for regular gas earlier in the week. Thursday the standard price around Kalamazoo was $3.59.

"I traveled to three different gas stations and their all pretty much the same, so I really could have filled up at the first one," said Trina Henry.

It turns out the increase comes from something called "price cycling," when all the stations competing with each other made prices too low.

"When stations are at that level where they can no longer afford to undercut each other one station kind of throws in the towel, as you'd say, raising their prices and because nobody else is making money either everybody joins," said Patrick DeHaan of

But DeHaan says drivers don't need to panic.

"The only time motorists need to be concerned is when you see more than one price hike in a week, then you know something is going on. But usually price hikes happen every week to week and a half," said DeHaan.

That leaves the people that didn't fill up earlier in the week frustrated.

"It's ridiculous, how can they jump the prices like that? Something needs to be done," said one driver.

The good news is Gasbuddy says prices should start to go down again by this weekend.