Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gas Price Rise toward All-Time High in Hawaii Will Increase TheBus Use Now and Rail in Years Ahead

Americans worried about so-called mission creep in the Libyan campaign have another worry that’s more immediate and personal – the unrelenting creep of oil and gas prices to near-record levels.

Oil’s all-time high price was $147 per barrel in 2008, and today’s price is still about $25 below that for Brent crude. But we’re closer to setting a new mark for gas than you might expect from today’s oil’s price.

The statewide average for a gallon of regular gas today is $4.452, only about a nickel below our high of $4.507. That’s up 4 cents since Saturday, and at that pace, we could break through to a new record within a few days.

What this will mean for our travel habits is predictable: Americans traditionally buy more fuel-efficient vehicles when it’s time to trade in the old gas guzzler, and we’ll also ride transit more when gas prices rise.

The American Public Transportation Association predicts 670 million more passenger trips on public transportation when the national average gas price hits $4 per gallon. Today’s average is $3.808, and analysts anticipate higher prices this year and for the next decade.

Hawaii consumers are payng the highest prices for gas the nation, far more California, Alaska and Illinois, the latest state to join the $4/gallon club.

Oil prices are predicted to be near $200 per barrel when Honolulu rail goes into full service at the end of this decade. Cost factors alone will make rail travel attractive, and when convenience of avoiding traffic congestion is also a consideration, rail will be an instant success.

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