Gas price spike: Truckee/Tahoe locals, tourists still drive on as prices climb
Tahoe Daily Tribune
TAHOE-TRUCKEE – With gasoline prices spiking above $4 per gallon throughout the region, locals and tourists are feeling the pinch of the recession more than ever.
“It’s completely outrageous,” said Sean Kavanaugh, of Redding, who filled up Tuesday afternoon at the Shell gas station on Donner Pass Road.
While Kavanaugh said the recent jump in gas prices is affecting his current travel decisions, he said he’s more concerned for what it means in the long-term, should prices continue.
“What I’m most concerned about is how it will affect travel in the summertime,” he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon in Truckee, regular gas prices ranged between $4.09 and $4.19 per gallon, an above-$4 range that’s reflected around the basin since the weekend. Tahoe City reported a range of $4.07 to $4.09 and Incline Village showed a range of $4.09 to $4.19.
At the Incline Village Chevron, the $4.19 per-gallon price for regular fuel as of Tuesday afternoon was the highest in the state of Nevada; in fact, the three gas stations in Incline top the Nevada list.
Somewhat cheaper, South Lake Tahoe has been able to keep prices under the $4 with a range of $3.89 to $3.99.
According to various media outlets, the eruption in gas prices is due to unrest in Africa and the Middle East, specifically with political turmoil in Libya and Egypt.
While the cause may be thousands of miles away, the impact here has been substantial. California’s average price for regular fuel as of Tuesday was $3.90, with Nevada’s at $3.60, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
In general, Truckee/Tahoe gas prices hover in the middle of the California average; the Mobil station in West Covina showed a per-gallon price for regular fuel at $4.79 on Tuesday, the state’s highest.
Jake Ellenbrock, a visitor from Philadelphia, said Tuesday he was shocked when he saw the price of fuel in Truckee and around the basin.
“My initial reaction when I first drove up was ‘wow,'” Ellenbrock said.
Despite the prices, Ellenbrock said he will not change his behavior or driving habits, but he empathized with those living on less income.
“Those living on a tighter budget might be affected by the high prices,” Ellenbrock said. “These are hard times.”
To ease Americans still trying to cope with the aftermath of the Great Recession, President Barack Obama has been reported to be considering opening up the nation’s reserves to lower regular fuel prices. As of Tuesday, the national average was $3.52.
Like Ellenbrock, the region’s ski resorts don’t anticipate gas prices to impact tourist behaviors significantly.
Jessica Van Pernis, spokeswoman for Northstar-at-Tahoe, said looking back at the worst times of the recession and the resort’s past visitor totals, ski tourism will not be affected in a dramatic way.
“If the snow is good, guests will respond,” she said. “People who ski and snowboard continue to do so even when there are other factors like gas prices or a down economy, because it’s part of their identity.”
Amelia Richmond, a spokeswoman for Squaw Valley USA, agreed.
“As we have seen with the recession as a whole, skier visit numbers are surprisingly resilient despite economic challenges,” Richmond said. “We’ve found that many skiers and snowboarders are so passionate that they will budget or cut spending in other aspects of their life, but still make the trip to the mountains – especially with the incredible snow that we’ve had this season, I don’t expect we’ll see a significant decrease.”
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