tripping travelers get low

tripping travelers get low Labor Day gas prices

Motorists heading out for that last summer holiday fling known as Labor Day weekend will encounter some of the lowest gasoline prices since September 2004, with a couple of locations in Waco dropping regular unleaded to below $2 a gallon.

AAA Travel, the auto club, predicts that 35.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the three day Labor Day holiday, the highest volume since 2008 and 1 percent more than last year.

Experts say falling fuel prices and rising employment numbers give more people disposable income to hit the beach or lake, visit relatives or take a last minute family vacation before the school year kicks into full gear.

Byron Johnson, executive director of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, said he expects good size crowds during the Labor Day break.

“Generally, people are looking for a place to stop if they’re going across the state along major corridors, and that has proven to be good for the museum,” he said.

The museum will prepare for Labor Day “as it would for any other holiday,” Johnson said.

That means a full staff available to take tickets and speak with visitors about the displays.

Cameron Park Zoo, like other attractions, will find itself competing with the first weekend of college football and the first weekend of dove hunting season, said Duane McGregor, who oversees marketing and public relations for the attraction.

“But we’re expecting good crowds,” McGregor said. The zoo reported 1,182 visitors on Labor Day last year, which does not include those who visited on the Saturday and Sunday before the holiday itself, he said.

He said the zoo truly has become a statewide destination, with the turnout last Labor Day including 101 people from Austin; 177 from the Killeen/Fort Hood area; 58 from Dallas; 39 from Round Rock; and 31 from Georgetown.

“Another 240 people came from other Texas communities, but, of course, most came from Waco,” he said.

The vast majority of people traveling during the holiday will do so by automobile. They likely will see gasoline prices that continue to drop because of low oil prices and a quiet hurricane season that has allowed refineries to churn out gasoline and diesel.

“The year of cheap fuel continues,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

In Greater Waco, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded dropped to $2.16 by midafternoon Thursday, down from $2.18 on Wednesday, $2.25 a week earlier and $2.43 a month ago. Motorists one year ago were paying $3.21 a gallon. and Chapman’s Food Mart at 1116 W. Waco Drive close behind at $1.99 a gallon. Stations all over the city were charging $2.03 to $2.05 a gallon.

“Gas prices are just now catching up with the drop in crude oil prices that began in June,” DeHaan said.

He said crude oil prices last week dropped to around $38 a barrel, well below the year’s high to date of $61.43 on June 10.

DeHaan said oil prices are responding to concern about the Chinese economy, which is stagnant and not positioned to use as much oil as during its boom times. oil inventories are at all time highs, and that Iran could crank up oil production in the wake of international sanctions on trade being lifted as part of the proposed Iranian nuclear deal.

The balance of September could prove choppy for gas prices because refineries conduct maintenance while switching over to winter blends of gasoline, and supplies can be tight. But industry observers expect prices to continue drifting lower and then dropping sharply in the late fall and winter as demand for gasoline declines but refineries keep running to produce heating oil and diesel.

While a handful of stations locally had seen prices drop below $2 a gallon Thursday, the Oil Price Information Service is predicting that by this weekend, 10,000 stations around the country, mostly in the Southeast, will be selling gasoline for less than $2 a gallon. South Carolina’s average already has sunk to $2, lowest in the United States.

California and Nevada drivers continue to pay more than $3 on average, the highest numbers in the country.

Doug Shupe, the Texas/New Mexico representative for AAA, said: “People taking road trips this weekend will certainly cheap jerseys see savings at the pumps. Texans are paying $31 to fill up the typical 14 gallon size fuel tank, which is $14 less per tank than last year.”

Jack McKinney, executive director of Waco’s Dr Pepper Museum, predicts an impressive flow of traffic on Labor Day.

“It’s the last gasp of summer for a lot of people, about equal to Memorial Day,” he said, adding he expects between 250 and 500 people to show up to tour the facility, buy souvenirs at the gift shop and enjoy floats and shakes at the soda fountain.


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