Springfield gas prices rising ahead of summer travel | News

As the summer travel season approaches and parts of the country deal with possible gas shortages, gas prices in central Illinois are increasing.

Over the last month, the average gas price in central Illinois climbed from $2.99 to $3.19, according to Gas Buddy, which gives real-time information about gas prices across the country. In Springfield Tuesday, gas was averaging $3.15 per gallon.

“A large part of the price increase has to do with the overall COVID recovery. There is simply more demand for fuel as people are entering into the world again,” said Allison Mac from Gas Buddy.

The price increase comes as the nation prepares for what is expected to be a busy summer travel season. Improving COVID-19 numbers and lifting restrictions along with many people getting vaccinated has people ready to travel again after staying home during last summer.

According to AAA, 37 million Americans, including 1.8 million Illinoisans, are expected to travel over Memorial Day weekend. This is up 60% from last year, but still 14% below pre-pandemic levels. AAA says 9 in 10 travelers over Memorial Day will drive to their destinations.

Mac said the combination of more travelers and bringing back summer fuel blends contribute to the normal price increase as summer approaches.

“(Prices) tend to go up in the spring as more people get out on the roads. During the summer, gas prices tend to fluctuate as people drive more, take vacations and changes in supply and demand. Last year, with the pandemic it was an off-year and while it may be a sticker shock compared to what we paid during the pandemic, we are not too far off from what the prices were this time in 2019,” said Molly Hart of AAA.

Gas prices were just below $3 a gallon in May 2019, according to Gas Buddy. Aside from occasional spikes to $3, gas prices have remained below $3 consistently since 2015 when prices were just over $3 during the summer.

Nationally, some areas of the country were worried about the impact of a ransomware attack last week on the Colonial Pipeline, which provides fuel to the East Coast. The pipeline was shut down as a precautionary measure over the weekend but could be back in operation by the end of the week.

Stations without gas and panic buying have been reported in Florida and North Carolina. North Carolina’s Gov. Roy Cooper signed a state of emergency Monday to help ease some restrictions on fuel transportation to keep supply up with demand.

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