NEWS

Gas prices now at a premium

This spring break, UA students may find themselves paying more to travel.

In the past month, Tucson’s average gas price has increased by 37 cents from $3.27 per gallon of unleaded gasoline to $3.64.

“It’s not just a Tucson thing, because the gas process depends on oil prices,” said Derek Lemoine, assistant professor of economics in the Eller College of Management. “There is one price of oil for the world effectively, so if it hops up, then it pretty much changes for everybody at one time.”

The current price for a gallon of gas in Arizona is $3.81, while the national average is $3.71. Forecasts for gasoline prices within the next upcoming months suggest that the national average could be anywhere from $3.75 to $4.15 per gallon by mid-May, according to Patrick DeHaan, an analyst with Gasbuddy.com, in a statement released by the website.

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While some analysts say high gas prices may stay for the next few months, others say it might be too soon to tell, because gasoline prices are so dependent on multiple economic, global and political factors.

“If you are that sure on the way gas prices are going to move you should put money on it,” Lemoine said. “There are things we can imagine that will drive it one way or another, but no one really has a handle on it.”

The increase in gas prices comes just in time for the UA’s spring break, when many students have plans to travel. Tenaya Snider, a creative writing senior, said in addition to traveling back home to Kingman, Ariz., she plans to go to Los Angeles and anticipates spending a little more than $150 on gas for her trip, not including gas needed to drive around each city.

“Right now it’s looking like it is going to cost $60 just to make it home on a tank of gas,” Snider said. “And those little costs add up to where I can’t spend money on other things during the break.”

While Snider said she plans on driving to multiple places this spring break, she did consider the alternative of flying to her destinations as a way to possibly cut costs and time. A round trip plane ticket from Tucson to San Diego during the week of spring break is anywhere between $200 and $280, according to discount travel websites like Orbitz and StudentUniverse. A road trip to and from the same destination can cost $130 to $140 in gas when applying the current national average, and $150 to $160 in California where the average price for a gallon of gas is about $4.33.

“The increase in prices have made me more conscious about what I spend when getting ready for the break,” Snider said. “I don’t travel as much or go out with friends, and when I do we typically try to carpool.”

Practices students can implement when trying to cut the use of gas in their vehicles include checking their vehicle’s tire pressure, replacing air filters and avoiding driving too fast or breaking too rapidly, said Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

“Obviously when gas prices go up, it hurts a lot of people,” Laskoski said. “We as consumers can’t control gas prices, but what we can do is maximize fuel efficiency of our own vehicles.”

Technology is also playing a part when it comes to helping people cut gas costs. Smartphone “gas apps” can be downloaded and used to check gas prices in a user’s surrounding area and help them find a gas station with the lowest price.

“I think that using these apps can certainly save a person some money,” Laskoski said. “Sometimes the difference in an area can be up to 50 cents, and people are going to want to find places with the cheapest gas.”

In addition, Lemoine said, that compared to other countries around the world, prices in the U.S. have been known to be historically low when it comes to gas due to fewer taxes. Lemoine says that while drivers are not looking forward to paying more at the pump, high gas prices can sometimes mean economic upturn for a country.

“What happened between three years and now is that we hit a major recession. So the extent to why we had low gas prices is because the economy was not doing very well and the developed world did not want much oil,” Lemoine said. “So if you think about it, high gas is kind of good in a weird way.”


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Daily (12/8)
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Updated December 8, 2021