Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hawaii's Regular Gas Average Surges to $4.314, Could Pass All-Time High of $4.507 in 2 Weeks

A Honolulu gas station offered “cheap gas” in a promotion yesterday. "Cheap" it wasn't. The $3.95/gallon price for regular was higher than today’s average statewide price for premium gas in 41 mainland states.

Only Hawaii, Alaska and California are over the $4 mark, but Hawaii’s average is increasing at a faster rate than the other two.

Hawaii’s average for regular has jumped 9.1 cents in the past five days, while Alaska is up 3.9 cents and California 2.9 cents. At this rate, Hawaii could surpass our all-time high of $4.507/gallon of regular in a couple weeks.

Consumers are reacting with consternation, but transit planners and electric vehicle manufacturers see the trend differently.

Transit officials know high gas prices drive up passenger counts on their systems. The American Public Transportation Associations predicts hundreds of millions of additional rider trips if regular’s national average price hits $4. It happened in 2008, when the price of oil surpassed $145/barrel, and they’re predicting the same this year.

That’s what people do – switch to transit when driving becomes too expensive. And once they experience transit’s convenience factor, many riders stay with transit even after gas prices fall. Cheaper gas is not the long-range prediction.

Electric car enthusiasts see increased sales in higher gas prices. It’s not unusual to know at least one person in Honolulu with an all-electric Nissan LEAF already in the carport or on the way.

Oahu is increasing its reliance on renewable energy and preparing to build the Honolulu rail project. The wisdom of both will be seen by this and future generations.

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