For motorists, it’s a different way to fill up with Christmas cheer.
Fort Worth and Arlington motorists saw prices for unleaded gas drop 7 cents last week to $2.17, putting the price of fuel to below the statewide average of $2.21 and far below the national average of $2.45, according to the AAA Texas Fuel Gauge. Unleaded gas in Dallas dropped 5 cents to $2.19.
Analysts also expect the pump price to continue dropping heading into the holidays, when AAA Texas predicts a record-breaking 8.7 million Texans to take trains, planes and automobiles to visit their loved ones from Dec. 23 to Jan 1. If the prediction holds true, it would be a 2.7 percent increase over 2016 and the highest year-end travel volume on record for Texas.
“Over the past several weeks, Texas has consistently ranked in the top 10 states across the nation with the lowest gas prices,” said AAA Texas spokesman Daniel Armbruster in a statement. “It was just a few months ago, following a powerful hurricane season, that Texas drivers were paying 53 cents more for a gallon of regular unleaded than in 2016.”
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Fort Worth’s and Arlington’s plunging pump price was the biggest in the state, while the AAA survey of gas prices in the major metropolitan areas dropped by 3 cents. Drivers in Midland are paying the most when they fill up at $2.51 a gallon, while motorists in San Antonio are paying the least at $2.10.
Still, gas prices are considerably higher than they were a year ago. In 2016, Texans were paying $2.03 a gallon, while in Fort Worth and Arlington the pump price was $2.05 and Dallas drivers were paying $2.07. But memories are short and higher prices are not swaying holiday travelers.
Nationally, AAA forecasts that a record-breaking 107.3 million Americans will travel this year, a 3.1 percent boost when compared to last year. This would be the ninth consecutive year of bigger holiday travel volumes. Since 2015 year-end travel has shot up by 21.6 million, a boost of 25 percent, AAA reported.
As a result, for the 97.4 million Americans traveling by car or truck, travel times could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip, according to INRIX, a global transportation analytics company.
In Texas, eight million people are expected to travel by vehicle, a 2.8 percent increase when compared to last year, while 407,000 , or 1.9 percent more, are expected to fly to their destination, AAA Texas reported. Another 248,000 are likely to board a train or bus.