Janesville52°

Rising gas prices cut into holiday travel

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Catherine W. Idzerda
May 19, 2008
— Check the couch cushions.

Sell the family silver.


Raid your 401(k).


Or you could just stay at home on Memorial Day weekend.


With gas prices within two slim dimes of $4 a gallon, people are reevaluating their travel plans.


Wayne Buchanan of Janesville isn’t traveling.


“We’re not going anywhere,” Buchanan said as he exited the Lions Quick Mart, 2615 Milton Ave., Janesville, this morning. “It’s just too much.”


Buchanan said he and his family planned to “stay home and ride our bikes.”


“Anyway, I need to lose some weight,” he said, patting his modest paunch.


AAA estimates 37.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a decrease of nearly 360,000 travelers (0.9 percent).


“For the first time in a decade, we’re expecting fewer people to travel this year,” said Pam Moen, AAA public affairs director. “It’s not a big decrease, but it’s significant.”


Nearly 31.7 million Americans, about 83 percent of all holiday travelers, are expected to travel by automobile, a 1 percent decrease from last year.


Will prices reach $4 a gallon by this weekend?


“I’m not trying to hedge on the answer, but a lot is wait and see,” Moen said. “Prices have stabilized a little bit, and we haven’t seen the big jumps we’ve seen in the past.”


If a considerable number of people decide not to travel this summer, it could lead to a “cooling off” in gas prices.


Attorney Mike Grubb, a Whitewater resident who works in Janesville, said he and his family didn’t have any plans for Memorial Day travel. But the price of gas is an issue for him because of his daily commute.


But what can he do? He has to go to work, and he’s got to get home.


“I do think about it,” Grubb said.


PAINFUL MILESTONES IN GAS HISTORY

May 2002: Gas is $1.40. People don’t know how good they have it.


April 2004: Gas prices cross $2 a gallon. People get angry with convenience store clerks, as though they are hand-in-glove with big oil.


Late July 2005: Gas prices hit $2.50 a gallon. People are used to it. It hits the $3 mark shortly thereafter and then goes back down to $2.25 in November. People get motion sickness watching the numbers changing on the big signs.


Now: Gas prices have been above $3 a gallon since February. Demand has dropped, supply is good, yet prices continue to rise because of record high prices of crude oil. Gas prices close in on $4 a gallon. The media begins writing $4-a-gallon stories.


Convenience store clerks still are not getting rich.


Source: Gasbuddy.com

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