Ris­ing gas prices may curb trips in sum­mer

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY MERED­ITH SOMERS

High gaso­line prices that are ex­pected to con­tinue ris­ing to­ward $4 a gal­lon and up­ward will force mo­torists to shell out more at the pump and may have many peo­ple re­con­sid­er­ing sum­mer travel plans to save money.

“This year may be the re­turn of the ‘stay-cation,’ “AAA Mid-at­lantic spokesman John B. Townsend II said, adding that a re­cent na­tional poll pointed to­ward “more in­tel­li­gent” trav­el­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent prices avail­able from the U.S. En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, reg­u­lar gaso­line prices across the United States on Mon­day av­er­aged $3.87 per gal­lon. That’s about 5 cents more than March 12 and nearly 10 cents more than at the be­gin­ning of the month. The price is a full 30 cents more ex­pen­sive than this time last year, when the price per gal­lon of reg­u­lar gaso­line reached its high­est point since the end of 2008.

“It’s bad. I’m just pre­par­ing for when it’s $6 or $7 by May,” said James Camp­bell, a home preser­va­tion spe­cial­ist based in Mont­gomery County.

On Thurs­day, he watched over his pickup truck parked in the shade of a North­east gas sta­tion, where a sign ad­ver­tised $4.09 per gal­lon for reg­u­lar gas.

Mr. Camp­bell said he filled up two trucks for $3.85 per gal­lon in Mary­land — $90 for one truck and $60 to top off an­other.

That doesn’t count the six- or seven-gal­lon gen­er­a­tors or the lawn mow­ers he also must fill when he heads to a job, nor does it fac­tor in the cut in ef­fi­ciency when one of the trucks is haul­ing a trailer full of equip­ment.

“One-hun­dred-and-fifty dol­lars a day? No prob­lem,” Mr. Camp­bell said.

This time of year, Metro sees an uptick in rail riders dur­ing the cherry blos­som sea­son, but when it comes to a boost in com­muters hop­ing to dodge the fuel pump, Metro spokesman Philip Ste­wart said it wasn’t likely.

“What we’ve found is peo­ple seem to make cuts in other places in their bud­get be­fore mak­ing any ma­jor changes,” Mr. Ste­wart said. “Typ­i­cally com­mut­ing habits tend to be one of the last things peo­ple will change.”

As he re­placed the gas cap on his mid-size SUV, Kriss Brun­ngraber of Wan­tage, N.J., con­sid­ered the $55 to­tal dis­played on the fuel pump screen.

“I won­der when my com­pany is go­ing to pull our gas cards,” the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor said.

In town for a con­fer­ence, Mr. Brun­ngraber said the price of gaso­line in the Dis­trict were about 40 cents higher than those in his home state.

“For peo­ple who are strug­gling, it’s a killer,” he said.

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