Holiday travel expected to spike despite high prices at the pumps

While gas prices in the Rochester area topped out at $3 per gallon this week — the highest Memorial Day week average locally since 2018 — experts are predicting a spike in travel for the holiday.


GasBuddy this week said the average price of a gallon of gas in Rochester rose 2.5 cents to $3, while AAA Western and Central New York reported an average price of $3.02. A year ago, the average price at the pump was $2.17 locally.

Statewide, AAA reported the average price as $3.07, up from $2.18 a year ago. Nationally this week, the average price for unleaded gas was $3.04, according to AAA and $3.02, according to GasBuddy.

“In the lead up to Memorial Day, we haven’t seen gas prices come down much, though with oil’s recent move lower we should start to see more drops at the pump materialize in the days ahead,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “With the Colonial Pipeline situation continuing to improve in Southeastern states, fueling up for the holiday weekend shouldn’t be too challenging, save for a few pockets in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, where outages remain a bit higher than neighboring states.”

De Haan said we can expect prices to continue to inch lower and advised motorists to wait to fuel up for weekend travel.

“Motorists need not rush to fill their tanks as the drop in oil prices should manifest into lower gas prices as we begin the summer driving season,” he said.

GasBuddy is not expecting summer gas prices to set any records; rather the company is predicting a settling to levels similar to 2018.

AAA is expecting a significant rebound in the number of Americans planning to travel this weekend. From May 27 through May 31, more than 37 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home, a 60 percent increase from last year when just 23 million people traveled. Last year’s travel, during the height of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, was the lowest on record since AAA began keeping records in 2000.

“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior president of AAA Travel. “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.”

In a press conference Thursday, AAA said that daily car rental rates have doubled compared with last Memorial Day, topping out at $134. Some consumers have experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets due to rental companies selling off their fleets last year, as well as the chip shortage impacting auto manufacturers limiting inventory among rental companies.

AAA also noted that average airfares have increased 14 percent over last Memorial Day and mid-range hotel rates have increased between 29 and 34 percent, with nightly rates between $140 and $181 for AAA Two Diamond and AAA Three Diamond hotels, respectively.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this week said it is prepared for an expected increase in the number of travelers who will be flying out of Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport.

“We are prepared to handle the expected increase in travel volume this summer and at the same time, TSA is committed to supporting a healthy and secure environment for airline passengers, security personnel and airport employees,” said TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York Bart Johnson. “For those who will be traveling this summer, travelers need to know that the checkpoint experience will look different to those who have not flown since the start of the pandemic, and individuals flying out of Rochester should be prepared for those changes.”

Everyone in the airport is required to wear a mask when they are in airports, bus and rail stations, as well as while on passenger aircraft, public transportation, passenger railroads and over-the-road buses operating on scheduled fixed-routes, officials noted. If a traveler does not have a mask, a TSA officer will offer one to that individual at the checkpoint.

“We have what I call a ‘new normal’ at airport security checkpoints since the start of the pandemic,” Johnson said.

A TSA officer cleans a bin at Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. (provided)
A TSA officer cleans a bin at Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. (provided)

Travelers and security officers will be wearing masks and there will be reminders to socially distance posted at the checkpoint. Security officers will change their gloves between each pat down and travelers can request that an officer put on a new pair of gloves at any time. Security employees will be conducting routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces and security screening equipment at the checkpoints.

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Labor Day gas prices expected to be lowest since 2004: Report

Labor Day gas prices are expected to be at their lowest since 2004, GasBuddy reports. The company predicts a national average of $2.19 per gallon, down nearly 37 cents from last year and the lowest priced Labor Day since 2004’s $1.82 per gallon average.

“With Hurricane Laura now behind us and many refineries returning to service, gas prices will begin to head lower just in time for the Labor Day weekend,” said Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis. “This will be the lowest Labor Day weekend gas prices since 2004, closing out an incredible summer at the pump with the most stable and lowest overall price from Memorial Day to Labor Day since 2004 as well.”

Nationally, gas prices are expected to be the lowest this Labor Day since Labor Day 2004. (Source: GasBuddy)
Nationally, gas prices are expected to be the lowest this Labor Day since Labor Day 2004. (Source: GasBuddy)

The good news for motorists, De Haan said, is that prices at the pump likely will continue falling as seasonal factors kick in, reducing demand, and the nation switches back to cheaper winter gas in a couple of weeks.

GasBuddy’s study on how many hours motorists need to work to pay their annual gasoline expenses found that U.S. motorists can work 19 percent fewer hours on average to pay their annual gas bill compared with 2019.

“Despite the drop in amount of labor needed to fuel the car, it is sadly juxtaposed with historic unemployment rates,” De Haan said. “Fewer hours of work required to fill a gas tank does not offer much relief for millions of Americans without jobs across the country.”

AAA Western and Central New York expects travel to increase over the coming holiday weekend. The 1,000 Islands and the Adirondacks regions are the top destinations statewide, as well as other areas in New York including the Finger Lakes, Catskill Mountains, Chautauqua Lake, Lake George and Niagara Falls.

Statewide, the average price of a gallon of gas is $2.30 this week, AAA reported. On Monday, GasBuddy reported that Rochester’s gas prices have risen 6.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.26 per gallon. Gas prices in Rochester are 5 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand 44 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Rochester was priced at $1.95 per gallon on Monday while the most expensive was $2.50. The lowest price in the state this week was $1.94 per gallon, while the highest was $2.89, a difference of 95.0 cents per gallon.

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COVID-19 fuels reduction in gas and oil prices

(Velvet Spicer)
(Velvet Spicer)

Despite a steady drop in gasoline prices in the last few weeks, one thing remains constant: drivers in New York State will continue to pay more at the pump than many of their counterparts nationwide.

It’s a combination of gas taxes—which, at nearly 64 cents per gallon, ranks the state among the highest nationwide—and the lack of a refinery here.

“There’s no refinery in the state and we’re at the so-called end of the pipeline, so we’re usually slower to see the lower prices,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations & corporate communications for AAA Western and Central New York. “Prices here have been dropping, just not as drastically as some other places across the country.”

In fact, the average price for a gallon of gas statewide this week was $2.29, according to AAA. Last week it was $2.33 and a month ago it was $2.57. Last year at this time, a gallon of gas would have cost $2.76 in New York State.

In Rochester, the average price of gas was $2.27 per gallon this week and $2.32 a week ago. A year ago, a gallon of gas in Rochester cost $2.75, AAA reported.

That compares with the national current average of $1.92 per gallon, which is down from $2.40 a month ago and $2.74 a year ago.

(Velvet Spicer)
(Velvet Spicer)

Similarly, GasBuddy this week reported the average price for a gallon of gas in Rochester as $2.24, roughly 26 cents lower than a month ago and 51 cents lower than a year ago. Buffalo’s gas prices also stand at $2.24 per gallon, while Syracuse drivers are paying on average $2.14 per gallon.

“The national average continues to fall as every state has seen yet another decline in average gas prices over the last week as overall oil demand remains constrained due to COVID-19,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis. “The decline has been most significant thus far in the Great Lakes due to the region being landlocked and challenging to ship gasoline out of. Prices have been depressed significantly, driving these states to some of the lowest prices in the country.”

The U.S. has an unusually high amount of the cheaper winter-blend gasoline still available, which prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to extend the sale of the winter-blend gas past the May 1 deadline to May 20 this year.

“The EPA’s extension of the winter-blend gasoline waiver will contribute to sustained lower prices, especially as U.S. gasoline demand readings look more like winter driving season than spring,” Carey said.

The EPA also plans to give small refineries more time to meet the U.S. biofuel mandate.

“By waiving the low volatility and blending limitations through May 20, EPA will ensure a steady supply of gasoline,” the agency said in a statement. “EPA will continue to monitor the adequacy of gasoline supplies and, should conditions warrant, may modify or extend this waiver at a later date.”

Typically in April, drivers begin to brace themselves for the summer increase in gas prices, but in addition to the availability of winter-blend gas, prices have been on the downswing due to the recent plunge in demand for oil and gasoline attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It started with China. They’re the biggest user of oil out there,” Carey explained. “The factories shut down there and that really sent the demand down and prices started to come down.”

Now that the virus has become a global pandemic and people are social distancing and working from home, demand for gas has declined.

Map of state and local tax rates on gas from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
Map of state and local tax rates on gas from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

A report from Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) by IHS Markit for the week ended March 14 shows that same-store gasoline sales at U.S. gas stations were down 2.4 percent nationwide, when compared to the same week last year.

According to the latest OPIS demand data for the week ending March 28, same-store sales were down 46.6 percent nationwide, and that is not expected to improve anytime soon.

“At a time when rapidly decreasing oil prices would theoretically lead to an increase of consumer demand for gasoline, much of the country is shutting down economic activity due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at OPIS. “We are likely to see weekly gasoline demand numbers drop to levels last witnessed in the Nixon Administration, and we’ll see those lower levels in April.”

The Northeast region, where New York State has restricted non-essential businesses to work from home where possible and set guidelines for social distancing, saw year-on-year fuel demand decline 3.7 percent during the week ended March 14, OPIS officials said. Conversations with retailers in some of the impacted states suggested year-on-year volume losses of 20 percent to 40 percent, OPIS reported.

“At the same time, there’s an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, so that’s been pushing oil prices down,” Carey noted. “When oil prices come down that directly impacts the prices that we pay at the pump.”

In February, the International Energy Agency said that oil demand growth would fall to its lowest rate since 2011, with growth falling by 325,000 barrels per day to 825,000 barrels per day, and a contraction in consumption by 435,000 barrels per day. At an OPEC summit in early March, Saudi Arabia agreed to reduce production by 1.5 million barrels per day and called on Russia and others to also reduce oil production.

Russia declined and Saudi Arabia launched an oil price war with the country, although neither country admits to doing so. U.S. oil prices have fallen 34 percent and the price cuts are believed to have triggered the stock market crash currently being experienced around the globe.

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Gas prices rise in time for holiday travel

Gas prices in Rochester and across the state have risen, just in time for the July 4 holiday and expected record-breaking travel, reports.

Rochester drivers will pay an average of $2.83 per gallon at the pump this week, up nearly 6 cents from last week, but down nearly 11 cents from prices a year ago. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas this week is $2.71, up about 5 cents from last week, but down nearly 14 cents from a year ago.

The increased price is the first since early May.

“For the first time in nearly two months, the nation’s average price of gasoline has seen a weekly increase. Of course, most motorists suspected prices would rise ahead of July 4, but it’s not the holiday that should be pointed at,” GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis Patrick DeHaan said in a statement Monday. “Motorists can blame escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran for higher oil prices, declining inventories and even a potential U.S./China trade deal.”

AAA Western and Central New York reported that a record 48.9 million Americans are expected to travel this Independence Day, with 41.4 million of those using the roads. That is the most on record for the holiday and 4.3 percent more than last year.

“As Independence Day approaches, it’s time for the much-loved family road trip and this year will be one for the record books, with more Americans than ever planning vacations,” AAA Western and Central New York Vice President of Travel Carol DiOrio said in a statement. “This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel.”

In New York State, some 3.5 million people will be traveling during this week’s holiday, a nearly 4 percent increase from last year. A record 2.93 million will travel by car and more than 308,000 by air.

“Gas prices in New York State are, on average, 17 cents cheaper than Memorial Day weekend, which is welcome news for motorists hitting the road to celebrate the July Fourth holiday,” said AAA WCNY Director of Public Relations Elizabeth Carey. “More so, summer gas prices are poised to continue dropping even lower in coming weeks.”

Other travel costs are trending higher, AAA officials noted. Airfares on average are 10 percent more expensive compared with last Independence Day, while average car rental rates are 5 percent higher than last year. Midrange accommodations are expected to cost travelers between $153 for AAA Two Diamond and $189 for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels.

AAA is expecting to rescue nearly 15,000 motorists roadside across New York during this week’s holiday, due primarily to dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.

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Gas prices drop just in time for Memorial Day travel

Whether by planes or trains or automobiles, Americans will be traveling at record volumes this weekend.

AAA projects that nearly 43 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend—with a record-breaking number taking road trips. The vast majority of travelers, some 37.6 million, will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5 percent more than last year.

And drivers will pay less for gas this year than last, AAA Western and Central New York said. The average price for a gallon of gasoline in New York State is $2.96—last year it was $3.08. The national average is $2.84, according to AAA.

Gas prices across the state vary, but not by much:
• Batavia – $2.85
• Buffalo – $2.89
• Ithaca – $2.87
• Rochester – $2.89
• Rome – $2.89
• Syracuse – $2.86
• Watertown – $2.96 this week reported that 75 percent of Americans will take a road trip this summer, a 16 percent increase from last year, although 38 percent cited high gas prices for impacting their summer travel decisions.

The national average for gas prices had surged 67 cents from the beginning of the year until May 4, when it peaked at $2.89. GasBuddy predicts the national average for Memorial Day weekend will be $2.83 per gallon, 14 cents cheaper than a year ago.

“For many Americans, this spring has pinched pocketbooks at a dizzying rate, but that still won’t hold back many from hitting the road for the 90 days or so of prime summer weather,” GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis Patrick DeHaan said in a statement. “While the rise in prices has been steep this spring, perhaps the most important factor is that in many places, gas prices are still well below their all-time highs and perhaps even more importantly, over 50 percent of the nation’s gas stations are selling at $2.99 per gallon or less, and that’s a key ingredient in the recipe for many Americans to hit the road again this summer.”

GasBuddy on May 20 reported Rochester’s average gas price as $2.88, compared with $3.02 a year ago. On May 20, 2011, the average price at the pump locally was $4.01 per gallon.

In a separate statement, DeHaan noted that with a trade deal with China unlikely, we may continue to see weakness in oil and gas prices.

“Of course, the trade tensions are not the only issue we’re monitoring for now, but we continue to believe that additional slow relief will trickle to pumps in the next week as more refiners get back into the game and boost production,” he said. “I expect the bulk of states to see lower gas prices continue just in time for Memorial Day while some, inevitably, will see increases.”

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Gas prices fall but Iran sanctions may spark increase

nationalcomparison_9-24-18Gasoline prices in Rochester have fallen 5 cents since Sept. 15, when stations made the switch to winter-blend gas, but consumers continue to balk at prices that are nearly 20 cents higher than what they paid at the pump last year. reports that the average price of a gallon of gas in Rochester on Monday was $2.90, 18 cents higher than the $2.72 per gallon drivers paid a year ago and 66 cents more than consumers paid two years ago.

By comparison, the national average for a gallon of gas this week was $2.83, a price that has remained relatively steady since the end of June. Drivers in Buffalo this week can expect to pay $2.91 per gallon, while those in Syracuse will pay $2.85, GasBuddy reports.

AAA Western and Central New York reported that gas prices in Batavia averaged $2.94 per gallon Monday, while in Watertown, Jefferson County, were down 1 cent to $3.02.

“With a muted response from OPEC to President Trump’s exhortation via Twitter that OPEC do something to rein in high oil prices, we may see energy markets rally as concerns grow that Iran’s sanctions effective in November may pose more of a challenge to global supply than anticipated,” Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, said in a statement Monday.

Oil prices jumped to a new high Sunday night as a reaction to OPEC’s response, DeHaan said.

“Moving forward, with Iran’s oil essentially out of reach, gas prices may not see the typical decline we had been expecting as recently as the last two weeks, as new concerns emerge about the tightrope balance some oil producing countries are hoping for, pushing supply down as global demand rises,” DeHaan added. “That’s not going to be good news for motorists.”

A new study from found that a vast majority of Americans have been feeling the pinch of rising gas prices over the last six months, and nationwide, the average price of regular gas has jumped 15 percent since the beginning of the year.

Roughly half of consumers in the study have changed their driving habits as a result of gas price jumps. Fifty-two percent of respondents said higher fuel costs have had a greater impact on how far or how often they drive, compared with six months ago.

The Energy Information Administration on Thursday reported that gas demand the previous week had slumped to one of its lowest rates for the season at 9.53 million barrels per day, after hitting 9.65 million b/d the previous week. The report signals that supply and demand for gasoline are in sync, but that could change if gas prices continue to fall with the winter-blend gas changeover, or if crude prices increase.

“Crude oil prices pushed past $70 (per barrel) for three days last week,” said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano. “If they trend above this level for a sustained amount of time, we could see a trend reversal in pump prices, meaning it may cost more to fill up as we get closer to the end of the year.”

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Gas prices dip but still highest since 2014

car-filling-station-gas-9796Rochester area motorists are paying more at the pump than they have since 2014, despite two consecutive weeks of lower prices.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline here this week was $2.97, down from $3 last week, but up from $2.38 per gallon a year ago, GasBuddy reported. Rochester drivers continue to pay more than their neighbors elsewhere; nationally the average price of gas this week was $2.89.

AAA Western and Central New York reported that gas prices this week in Buffalo were $3.01 per gallon, while Syracuse travelers are paying $2.95 per gallon. In Batavia, drivers will pay an average of $2.99 per gallon of gas this week.

“Average gas prices in the U.S. have fallen to their lowest in a month, following oil’s continued slump as OPEC appears poised to adjust oil production levels and the U.S. nears hitting 11 million barrels of oil pumped per day, the highest level ever,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “We see gas prices falling slightly into late June or early July before odds rise of hurricane season leading to some volatility at the pump, which could lead prices higher short term.”

GasBuddy in April reported that motorists nationwide will pay $4 billion more in gas taxes in 2018 than they did in 2017, $76 billion annually versus $72 billion. New York has the fifth highest gas taxes nationwide at 63.09 cents per gallon. Pennsylvania drivers pay 77.1 cents per gallon in taxes, GasBuddy reported.

AAA WCNY recently reported that consumers are spending $69 more a month to fill up compared with last summer, and gas expenses account for roughly 7 percent of an American’s 2018 annual income, a 1.5 percent increase since last year.

One-quarter of Northeast region respondents to an AAA survey said they would change travel plans if gas prices hit $3 per gallon, while 39 percent said $3.50 per gallon would be the game changer. In 2014, Rochester drivers paid $3.79 per gallon of gas in mid-June.

“Motorists can expect to spend at least $250 more on gas this season, but that won’t stop them from traveling,” AAA WCNY director of public relations Elizabeth Carey said in a statement. “The higher gas prices may just encourage travelers to shorten their driving distance.”

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Drop in gasoline prices continues

National average gas price comparison (source: AAA)
National average gas price comparison (source: AAA)

Gas prices in Rochester dropped for the second consecutive week, but don’t expect that trend to last, experts say.

“For the second straight week, average gasoline prices fell, with nearly every state declining week-over-week as retail gas prices saw more catching up to the previous decline in crude oil prices,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “The trend may not be over just yet, but oil prices have rebounded from their lows and are again strengthening, which may cut the party at the pump short in the weeks ahead.”

In Rochester this week, prices at the pump averaged $2.67, down from $2.70 a week ago, GasBuddy reported. This time last year Rochesterians paid about $2.35 a gallon, while five years ago gas here was averaging $3.93 per gallon.

Rochester area drivers continue to pay more than the national average of $2.51 per gallon. In Buffalo, drivers paid roughly $2.62 per gallon for gas this week, while in Syracuse the average was $2.63 per gallon.

“The question isn’t how low will they go, but how long will we see prices decline,” said AAA’s Jeanette Casselano, in a statement. “A handful of major refineries are undergoing maintenance. If production slows at a high rate and/or if crude oil prices jump, these events could push pump prices back up in late February or March.”

Nationwide, Texas drivers paid the least for gas this week at $2.27 per gallon, while gas prices decreased the most in Michigan, where drivers paid 19 cents less this week than they did last week, AAA reported.

In the Energy Information Administration’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week ending Feb. 16, U.S. exports of gasoline and crude oil skyrocketed. Gas exports registered at 918,000 barrels per day, a jump of 279,000 barrels from the previous week. Crude exports were 2.04 million barrels per day last week, moving 720,000 higher than the previous week.

For drivers, AAA reported, increasing gas and crude exports have helped to keep pump prices higher than they were in the years when exports from the U.S. were much lower.

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Gas prices dropping but still higher than last year

AAA projects more than 100 million Americans will travel for the Christmas holiday.
AAA projects more than 100 million Americans will travel for the Christmas holiday.

The gap between gas prices today and gas prices a year ago is slowly narrowing, but Rochesterians who plan to travel for the holidays will still pay more at the pump this year than their counterparts elsewhere around the country.

Gas prices in Rochester this week averaged $2.52 per gallon, down slightly from last week, but up more than 15 cents from a year ago, GasBuddy reported. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of gas on Monday was $2.41, down 4 cents from last week.

But GasBuddy projects that average Christmas Day gas prices will be their highest since 2013, at about $2.39 a gallon nationally. Still, that’s lower than on Christmas 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, when drivers paid more than $3 a gallon at the pump.

“It’s hard to be completely happy with gas prices dropping slightly in recent weeks when we’re going to see the most expensive Christmas at the pump in years, but what we’re seeing now really pales in comparison to the holidays when we pulled up to a pump that was over $3 per gallon,” Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, said in a statement.

In Buffalo this week, motorists are paying $2.64 a gallon, unchanged from last week, while drivers in Syracuse are paying $2.52 a gallon, down 2 cents in the last week, AAA Western and Central New York reported.

The Energy Information Administration reported that nationwide, gas stocks have grown in each of the past five weeks. In the last five weeks gas stores have increased by 17 million barrels total. That growth has been fueled by increased production, and refineries have been operating above 90 percent capacity during that time period.

Increased storage and low demand have helped push the national average for unleaded gas down, AAA reported.

“As long as demand for gasoline continues to weaken, gasoline inventories will continue growing and it’ll be the gift that keeps on giving,” DeHaan said in a separate statement. “In addition, the gap between prices today and a year ago is also at its narrowest in months, highlighting that prices are moving in the right direction for many.”

High gas prices aren’t expected to deter drivers this Christmas holiday. More than 100 million Americans are expected to hit the road, setting a new record.

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Gas prices on the rise and so is travel

Despite rising prices at the pump, more travelers than ever will take to the roads this Thanksgiving holiday.

Nearly 3.2 million New Yorkers are expected to travel during the holiday, AAA Western and Central New York predicts, and more than 2.8 million plan to drive to their Thanksgiving destination.

AAA predicts 51 million Americans will travel 50 or more miles between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26, the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in a dozen years.

But they’ll pay more this year to do it than they did last year.

Statewide, drivers are paying $2.70 for a gallon of gasoline, up 4 cents from a week ago. A year ago, however, Thanksgiving travelers in New York paid $2.39 a gallon. Nationally, the average price for a gallon of gas this week was $2.55, up 40 cents from a year ago.

“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Carol DiOrio in  a statement. She is vice president of travel at AAA Western and Central New York. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”

Multiple factors are responsible for the increase in pump prices over the last several weeks, AAA officials said. A spike in crude oil prices last week contributed heavily to those increases. Also at play: an increase in crude oil stocks, as well as a decrease in gas inventories and sustained driving demand.

In Rochester, drivers were paying about $2.63 per gallon this week, up 3 cents from a week ago, but 30 cents from a year ago, reported. Buffalo area drivers are paying $2.62 per gallon, while in Syracuse, the average price of a gallon of gas is $2.57.

“If you use gas prices to figure out the time of year it is, you’d probably think it’s spring based on the continued upward trend showing up in much of the country,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Absent is the beloved fall at the pump that we’re used to that accompanies the fall weather, but apparently this year is playing a trick on motorists. The cheapest price this year was in July while the most expensive showed up after the driving season concluded as Harvey hit, and we may get closer to that mark as gasoline inventories continue to drift to new multi-year lows.”

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Harvey likely to boost prices at the pump

Motorists can expect to pay more at the pump when Hurricane Harvey makes landfall later today or early Saturday. Higher prices may even be felt here in Rochester.

Harvey will shut down refineries in the nation’s largest refining hub in Texas, GasBuddy experts say, and some stations in Houston already have no gasoline.

“This storm came out of left field and while we were all watching the eclipse, Harvey was gaining steam and pushing forward. The impact on Texas could be significant, which could lead to long-term issues in terms of gasoline supply for large portions of the country,” GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said in a statement. “While the picture continues to change, one thing is nearly guaranteed: gasoline prices in every state will be impacted to varying degrees over the next one to two weeks, possibly longer, so buckle up and be ready.”

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused a 40-cent increase in gas prices overnight.

A hurricane merely needs to threaten an area with refining capacity to result in precautionary shutdowns, AAA officials said. Corpus Christi, which is home to five refineries and splitters, is currently under a National Weather Service hurricane warning.

“A hurricane like this typically causes an increase in fuel purchases in the market and a slowdown in retail demand,” said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano. “Spikes in pump prices due to the effects of hurricanes tend to be brief but dramatic. This impact is starting in Texas, where the average price for unleaded gas has already jumped up two cents since Tuesday to $2.15 a gallon.”

Locally, gas prices this week averaged $2.39 a gallon, relatively unchanged since the beginning of August. A year ago, Rochester drivers paid $2.32 a gallon, while five years ago motorists here were paying $3.84 at the pump.

The average price for a gallon of gas nationally this week stood at $2.32, GasBuddy reported. AAA reported that gas prices nationally are roughly 17 cents more expensive than a year ago.

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