Massachusetts Town Votes to Block Self-Serve Gas Stations

Arlington residents want to keep things status quo since self-service at the pump was outlawed in 1975.

May 02, 2013

ARLINGTON, Mass. – For nearly four decades, the citizens of Arlington have not had to pump their own gas within city limits, and that won’t change anytime soon, reports. At a recent town meeting, a proposal to allow self-service gasoline stations into the city was defeated by residents.

Town meeting member Carl Wagner had brought the proposal before the locality but then he withdrew his support, saying there weren’t adequate measures in the bill to protect full-service gasoline stations. “It needs more work,” said Wagner during the meeting before asking that his proposal not pass.

Arlington, which has prohibited self-serve gasoline stations since 1975, is one of a handful of Massachusetts towns that allows only full-service pumps. Upton, Weymouth and Milford are among the other towns with a similar ordinance.

Selectmen had approved Wagner’s original measure. “Technological advances since the introduction of self-service gasoline sales in the market have reduced safety hazards associated with the practice,” the board said. “Removal of the ban will make Arlington competitive with surrounding communities that offer self-service gasoline sales.”

Local retailers were of two minds when it came to the proposal. Some service station owners said having full-service pumps prevented accidents, such as motorists driving off with the pump attached. But other retailers said self-service pumps would give them more ability to compete with nearby communities on price.