Decrease expected in holiday drivers

May 22, 2009 3:40:20 PM PDT
Less local drivers are expected to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend even though gas prices in the Bay Area and statewide are more than a $1.30 cheaper than they were last May, according to AAA.

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The automobile association is expecting the number of drivers statewide to decrease by 2.1 percent even though last year at this time San Francisco drivers paid $4.07 on average for a gallon of gas and now they are paying about $2.70. California's average gallon was $4 and now it's $2.62.

"The gas prices this summer should be pretty stable. It might go up a couple of cents but should not go up much," AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said.

The decrease in travel does not reflect nationwide trends.

Nationally, AAA expects the number of travelers to increase by 1.5 percent. Gas nationally last May was $3.83 a gallon on average and is currently $2.62.

AAA typically uses this holiday weekend as a prediction of how the summer will be, indicating that statewide this summer in general might be milder travel-wise, Harris said.

Travelers are not just cutting the amount of money they spend on the roadways.

Bay Area airports also kicked off the summer traveling season this week with less passengers than last year.

San Francisco International Airport spokesman Mike McCarron said at the kickoff on Wednesday that air travel was down by 3 percent because of the economic crisis and cutbacks from airways.

McCarron also said domestic flights especially to and from Southern California were becoming more popular.

Harris said AAA expects 4 million Californians to travel more than 50 miles sometime between today and Monday, which is overall a 2.3 percent decrease from last year.

About 3.2 million are expected to drive and the rest will use trains, planes and other modes of transportation.

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