A Christmas Bonus
Travelers Paying Less At The Pump Just In Time For Holidays
Posted: December 21, 2012
Leelee Breeden of Elkton, a school nurse at Lacey Spring Elementary School, fills up at the Mauzy Liberty gas station on U.S. 11 at Interstate 81 Exit 257 Thursday afternoon. AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts the number of Virginians traveling this holiday season will be about the same as last year, which was a 10-year high. Those who choose to drive will get a break at the pump, as gas prices in the commonwealth have dropped by 13 cents so far this month. (Photo by Michael Reilly)
When drivers take to the road in coming days on their way to celebrate the holidays with loved ones, they’ll be paying less for gasoline than they have in months.
The average price in Virginia for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.11 as of Tuesday, down 13 cents from last month, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. The national average is $3.24 a gallon compared to $3.42 in November.
The Harrisonburg area is seeing even lower prices than the statewide average, with the cost of a gallon at some stations dipping below $3 — more than 50 cents cheaper than in late summer and early autumn. The area’s average price was $3.049 per gallon, according to AAA’s Fuel Price Finder.
For drivers, lower gas prices is a gift that’s expected to keep giving into 2013, said Windy Van Curren, public relations specialist with the auto club.
“We’re anticipating the prices, barring any significant impact to supply or something like that, to go down for the remainder of this year and into next year,” she said, adding that the cost for a gallon could drop another 10 or 15 cents.
While a welcome sign to motorists, lower pump prices are not expected to translate to more holiday travel.
The number of Virginians projected to travel this holiday season is essentially flat compared to last year, which saw a 10-year high. But this year’s estimate is 4 percent higher than the average for the past decade, according to AAA.
AAA estimates nearly 2.7 million Virginians will travel 50 miles or more for the year-end holiday season, which the auto club defines as Saturday through New Year’s Day. Of those traveling, 90 percent are expected to go by automobile.
Nationwide, 84.4 million people were expected to travel 50 miles or more, but the winter storm bearing down on the Midwest threatened to ruin holiday plans for thousands of Americans.
Airlines canceled about 1,000 flights as of Thursday evening with the number rising, and the storm wreaked havoc on interstates.
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