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Sheer Madness at Costco Gas

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Motorists line up at Costco’s gas station at its Scarborough location.


Over the past couple months, Costco, the members-only wholesaler better known for its massive quantities of just about everything, added gasoline to its product line by opening gas stations at its Etobicoke and Scarborough locations. What’s resulted could best be described as utter insanity.


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Stopping by the Costco in Scarborough, near Warden and Highway 401, on Sunday, we spot about fifty cars queued at the pumps—followed by at least a hundred more waiting to enter the queue from both directions at the entrance on Canadian Road (above). A point-duty police officer was at the site entrance, directing traffic, and motorists generally seemed content to idle their cars and wait their turn.
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The purpose of all this waiting and idling? To save seven cents per litre. On Sunday, Costco’s 103.9 cents per litre provided a seven-cent savings over the 110.9 cents per litre at other retailers.
Sure, the seven-cent saving could add up: on a fifty-litre gas tank, that’s a savings of $3.50.
But is it really worth it?
Based on the rate that the line-up was crawling into the station, each car waited over an hour to reach the pump. Ignoring the value of the drivers’ time, do the motorists realize they are wasting fuel and money idling their engines in line? According to Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, every ten minutes spent idling in your vehicle consumes an average of 300 to 500 millilitres of gas. After an hour, a motorist could have wasted up to three litres of gas just idling, or $3.10 of Costco-branded gasoline—negating almost all of the perceived savings.
The lineups at Costco’s gas bars defy rationality and reason. Worse, it’s justified the fears of nearby residents who previously fought, then lost, the fight over Costco placing the gas station at the Scarborough location on the grounds of increased traffic congestion in their neighbourhood. And if the motorists don’t win, and the residents around the corner don’t either, what’s the point?
Photos by Laurence Lui/Torontoist.

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