With Thanksgiving triggering the start of the holiday travel season, gas prices across Kansas have risen over six cents in the past week. However, an average cost of $2.77 per gallon won’t likely keep Kansans from going over the river and through woods.
Average retail gasoline prices in Kansas have risen 6.4 cents per gallon as of last Sunday. This compares with the national average that has increased 3.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.88 per gallon, according to gasoline price website KansasGasPrices.com.
Despite this, "travelers are eager to hit the roads to spend Thanksgiving with family and close friends," said Topeka-based Jim Hanni, executive vice president, Kansas Region and Public Affairs at the American Automobile Association. "Consumers can expect busy highways and airports as people make their way home during this important time of year."
AAA projects 42.2 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, an increase of 11.4 percent compared to 2009. Approximately 1.62 million travelers will fly to their holiday destinations, a 3.5 percent increase from last year. Auto travel is expected to increase by 12 percent over last year with 39.7 million Americans driving. This accounts for 94 percent of all holiday travelers, the highest percentage of automobile travelers recorded in AAA’s holiday travel history.
"This is good news," Hanni said. This increase comes after years of decline.
Automobile travel is expected to jump 12 percent in the Kansas region as air travel is expected to increase 3.4 percent (air fares are up about 4 percent, but airlines are making more seats available).
"The gas prices are not a factor," Hanni said. Last year, the average gas price hovered around $2.50, lower than this year.
Of those surveyed by the AAA, 65 percent the economy didn’t affect their travel plans. The 35 percent who said it would indicated it would cause them to look closer to home, shorten their trips and look for bargains. It also prompted them to drive rather than fly.
The numbers in the Midwest are opposite of those elsewhere in the country, Hanni said. Nationally, holiday travelers will spend an average of $495 on their trips, 12 percent of which will go to fuel. In the Kansas Region (which includes Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Missouri and Minnesota) the average trip will cost $176 , 27 percent going to fuel.
Hanni said gas prices seem to be relatively stable now. Despite oil inventories being down, the American dollar remains strong in the global market. There are also some positive movement in the gross-domestic product and individual incomes.
"There’s nothing to indicate run-away gas prices," Hanni said.
Including the change in gas prices in Kansas during the past week, prices over the weekend were 24.0 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 4.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago, KansasGasPrices.com reported. The national average has increased 5.6 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 25.3 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
The lowest price, according to the website KansasGasPrices.com, was at a Conoco station in Emporia at $2.63, and the next lowest was at a Dillons store in Topeka at $2.64. A price of $2.65 to $2.75 was reported at Larned and Great Bend.
A Casey’s convenience store in Parsons recorded the highest price at $2.95.