Honkin' Mad

‘Fueltide:’ Christmas travelers get gift of cheap gas

For people who drive a lot, one of the best gifts of the season isn’t necessarily under the tree.

It’s at the pump.

A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is now less than $2 at stations across Dallas-Fort Worth. In north Fort Worth and Keller, a gas war of sorts has erupted in recent days, and most stations are charging in the neighborhood of $1.85.

That’s quite a change from a year ago, when the average price in the Fort Worth-Arlington area was $3.05, according to AAA Texas. While AAA shows that Fort Worth has the lowest prices statewide at $1.98, it’s easy to find even cheaper fuel.

On Tuesday, gas was $1.85 at a Costco on West Arbrook Boulevard and Matlock Road in Arlington, as well as at an Exxon at South Broadway Street and Cooper Lane in Joshua.

“For the millions of Texans expected to drive to holiday destinations next week, these lower gas prices will leave them with more money to spend on travel, shopping and recreation during the holiday season,” said AAA Texas spokesman Doug Shupe, who added that his organization expects cheap gas to continue through at least early 2015.

Big holiday savings

The lower prices can add up to pretty notable savings — an estimated $400 million a day nationwide, according to AAA.

Here’s one example:

Let’s say your Christmas travel plans include driving from Fort Worth to El Paso for the holidays — a round trip of 1,206 miles — and you drive a vehicle that averages 25 miles per gallon.

If you paid an average of $1.85 a gallon, your round trip to far West Texas would cost about $89. Last Christmas, if you paid $3.05 a gallon, the same trip would cost about $147.

That’s a savings of $58.

About 8.1 million Texans — roughly a third of the population — are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home during the Christmas/New Year’s season, according to AAA.

That’s the highest travel volume since 2009, Shupe said. Not coincidentally, gas prices are at a five-year low, too.

An abundant worldwide supply of oil, as well as sluggish demand for it, is mostly responsible for the lower prices, he said.

Nationally, the average price for regular unleaded is $2.38 a gallon. Statewide, it’s $2.15.

The average is slightly higher in places such as Corpus Christi ($2.27) and Austin ($2.20), while motorists in Amarillo are enjoying prices below the state average ($1.99).

Long live gas wars

In the north Fort Worth/Keller area, a gas war began about a week ago after an Exxon at Denton Highway and Wall Price Keller Road dropped its price as an apparent promotion for the opening of a Schlotzsky’s sandwich shop inside the store. Nearby competitors initially matched the low price and at one point gas was $1.69 at both the Exxon and a QuikTrip.

Things have tapered off, but as of Tuesday morning, most stores in the area — including the Exxon, a QuikTrip at Denton Highway and Bear Creek Parkway, and a Valero at North Beach Street and Golden Triangle Parkway in far north Fort Worth — are charging $1.85.

“What are people doing with extra pocket money because of low gasoline prices? People I know buy more beer,” legendary oil and gas man T. Boone Pickens quipped Monday on his Twitter account.

Ready for higher prices

Although gas prices are expected to remain near current levels past New Year’s Day, it’s almost a sure thing that they will eventually creep up. And when that happens, Kimberly Woodall of Bonham will be prepared.

Woodall, 25, won a free car this week — a 2015 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid that averages the equivalent of 44 miles per gallon in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. The car was given away as part of a promotion by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Dallas Cowboys.

The aim of the campaign, the Drive Clean Texas Roadcents Sweepstakes, is to encourage motorists to drive fuel-efficient and well-maintained vehicles.

Woodall, who signed up on the Cowboys’ Facebook page, said she is looking forward to using the new vehicle for trips back to the Dallas area, where she grew up.

“I can go back to Richardson sometimes,” she said. “That would be cool, to go back to the city.”

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796

Twitter: @gdickson

Gas prices

Tuesday’s per-gallon prices, with last year’s prices in parentheses:

National average: Regular $2.38 ($3.25), premium $2.79 ($3.61), diesel $3.25 ($3.85)

State average: Regular $2.15 ($3.06), premium $2.56 ($3.41), diesel $3.11 ($3.68)

Fort Worth-Arlington average: Regular $1.98 ($3.05), premium $2.40 ($3.42), diesel $3 ($3.70)

Source: AAA Texas

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