Transportation

'Staycation,' anyone? How rising gas prices are putting a chill on summer travel plans

An initiative to repeal the recent increase to state gasoline and diesel taxes, which is raising billions of dollars for repaving and other transportation projects, is poised to qualify for the November ballot.
An initiative to repeal the recent increase to state gasoline and diesel taxes, which is raising billions of dollars for repaving and other transportation projects, is poised to qualify for the November ballot. Associated Press file, 2014

As gas prices continue to rise nationwide – with California leading the way, at $3.71 per gallon – Americans are planning fewer and shorter road trips this summer, a recent survey found.

Currently $2.93 per gallon on average in the U.S., gas prices are expected to rise to $2.95 by Memorial Day – 50 cents more than last year. The 2018 summer travel survey for GasBuddy.com, a gas price tracker, found drivers plan to cut costs and avoid gas guzzling by limiting road trips.

Fifty-eight percent of GasBuddy's survey respondents said they will take a road trip this summer, down from 82 percent last year. Thirty-nine percent said high gas prices would impact their travel plans, 20 percent more than in 2017.

Americans who do plan to leave town are not venturing far afield – just 31 percent will drive more than 500 miles round trip, a 25 percent decrease from last year, the survey found. The top reported road trip fear was overpaying for gas.

The average gallon of gas in Sacramento County costs $3.63 – slightly less than California's nation-leading mark, but up from $3 a year ago.

In 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill imposing a statewide 12-cent increase in the base gasoline excise tax and a new vehicle fee, which is expected to generate $52 billion in revenue to help fix highway pavements and bridges.

Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, said he expects this summer to be the most expensive since 2014, "with a strong likelihood of the national average hitting the psychological $3 per gallon barrier sometime this summer should we see any unexpected outages or geopolitical tensions flare."

The survey cites long-term OPEC production cuts, declining U.S. oil inventories, high demand and President Donald Trump's decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal as reasons for the rise in oil prices.

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