Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kitchen Heats Up, but Speculators Don’t Get Out

School children know that what happens in April doesn’t stay in April; May flowers do follow April’s showers. So we had thought heavy publicity in April on the upward march of oil and gas prices might produce a downward push on prices in May as oil speculators run for cover.

It’s too early to know if that’ll be true throughout this month, and the evidence so far is mixed. Hawaii’s statewide average price for regular gas retreated one penny today to $4.562, and the average price in Wailuku ($4.954) was down slightly from yesterday.

But Honolulu and Hilo averages have continued to rise. Honolulu reached a new record price today of $4.473; Hilo’s average of $4.599 is still nearly 6 cents below its 2008 record.

The Christian Science Monitor reports today that six states have passed into record gas price territory in recent weeks, and according to the AAA, a quarter of the states are averaging $4/gallon or more.

Effect on Transit

Conventional wisdom says transit ridership increases with the price of gas and the cost of driving. Google searches confirm it for municipalities around the nation, and so do figures released by Honolulu’s TheBus.

We’re hoping to obtain updated figures on ridership any minute now, and when they arrive, they’ll probably show a continuation of the trend reported last month. TheBus reported a 4-percent increase in bus pass sales compared to a year earlier and a 3-percent increase in March ridership.

Honolulu broke through to a new record for the average price of regular two weeks ago today. The price has risen 7.3 cents since April 20, so you can safely bet the farm on higher pass sales and ridership in April.

High ridership on Honolulu’s future rail system is virtually assured due to the ever-increasing cost of car ownership.

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