Lower Gas Prices Affecting Travels?
AAA's weekly survey of fuel prices reports that the price of gas nationwide took one of the biggest drops ever in the past two weeks. The price fell more than 50 cents a gallon.
In the past month, AAA said, it has dropped more than 75 cents. Last week, about 20 states fell below the average of $3 a gallon.
Demand for gas remains down, but will it stay that way? In today's Post, a story by Steven Mufson looks at what may become of the movement for more efficient autos. Dropping gas prices could depress desire for fuel economy while the troubled credit market cuts off money to finance auto design changes.
Look at the oil and gas price charts on our Metro page, and you'll see what those national and world trends have meant around here.
"AAA expects gas prices will continue to decline this month, which is welcome news for motorists," Lon Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic's director of public and government affairs, said in a statement. "Most drivers did not expect to see gas under $3 a gallon but with each passing day, more stations are posting prices at three-dollars a gallon or less."
But what does it mean for our local travels? We're through the summer driving season and into making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas trips.
Anderson noted that the weakening economy may temper temptations to resume old driving habits. It remains to be seen whether lower gas prices will significantly influence travel plans this year, he said.
What has the price drop done to your commuting habits? Has anyone backed away from a change to transit, biking or walking made earlier this year. Our bus and train systems face new stress. Many are going to raise fares, and some are considering service cutbacks despite increased ridership. Will they now lose that new ridership?
The transit authority posts ridership figures on its daily service log. Through Thursday, Metrorail ridership generally beat the figure for the same date the previous year. (Bus ridership can't be counted the same way.)
My prediction: People who changed their commuting habits won't switch quickly. (I guess that's why they're called habits.) Some people who were shaken out of their routines back in the spring may have found the new way to work gave some other advantage, such as a chance to read. Plus, leaving the car at home saves more than just gas. Check the commuting calculator at The CommuterPage.com.
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