It was always there… until it wasn’t. The Speedway gas station located on South Campus has been closed for most of the semester, and many commuters are asking “What am I supposed to do now?”
68% of UMass Lowell students commute each day and the Speedway located on the corner of Wilder and Pawtucket was the most frequented gas station by South Campus commuters, yet it closed down unexpectedly for assumed renovations. When asked if the closure of the gas station was affiliated in any way with the city, Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue and Lowell Mayor William Samaras could not be reached for comment.
In the meanwhile, where will commuters get their gas or chow down on wonderfully delicious and cheap junk food? Thankfully, Lowell is home to more than one gas station.
For most South Campus commuters, the closest gas station would be the Mobil that is located on Middlesex street about half a mile from South Campus. However, most students might prefer to head to another gas station as Mobil tends to be more expensive than most other brands of gas ($2.94 at the time of this writing). Plus, the snack choices do seem a bit lax. Tristyn Mitchell, a senior studying Legal Studies, said “They have the worst snacks. I bought a bag of off brand chips the other day and they were expired. They had maybe five different things to choose from and the drinks were wicked expensive.”
For those students who are open to traveling a bit further from South Campus to save an extra ten cents per gallon, Haffner’s gas stations in downtown Lowell offer $2.80 per gallon. These gas stations, located on Dutton street and Appleton street, have limited pumps (about three) and are also in highly condensed and trafficked areas, which could make a trip a few minutes longer than it should take.
What about students who live in the Centralville or Pawtucketville? And the North Campus students? The Gulf station located on Lakeview avenue is the cheapest gas station in the city, a gallon goes for a measly $2.76. This station only has four pumps, and the inside service can be slow, but it seems to be a popular choice for most students. This gas station also sells instant-coffee, which the owner, Shiv Patel, says is a “top seller.”
Some students have decided to stop driving altogether in response to the Speedway closing. Anthony Diaz, a Public Health major, said that he’s walking to class each day from his apartment on Shawmut avenue because of the lack of quality gas stations across the city.
“It’s gotten crazy expensive to drive to school every day,” Diaz said. “I’ve got to be putting in at least $40 a week for gas because I’ve had to drive further and pay more depending on where I go. I’m at least lucky enough to be able to walk to school; I know others don’t have any other choice.”
Indeed, most of UMass Lowell’s commuters are from outside the city. Sophomore Joshua Quentin, a Theater Arts major who lives in Townsend, says he’s taken up carpooling with other students who live near him.
“It’s just one of those things that you don’t really think about until you’re nearly out,” Quentin said. “I’ve got a longer commute, and by the time I arrive [in Lowell], I’ve used a significant amount of gas. And now that the Speedway is down, I’ve got to find another [gas station] in this city? I get lost all the time and waste even more [gas]. It’s much easier to hitch a ride with a friend and pitch in some dough.”
Yet even though the usually dependent Speedway will be closed for the foreseeable future, students like Quentin see it as a blessing in disguise.
“I think it’s a better situation than people think,” he said. “It’s forcing students to explore the city a little bit and not just relegate them to a small section of the city. Lowell has a lot to offer, and students can see more of the city even if they are only going to get something trivial, like gas.”