Road trippin’ this Labor Day weekend? Expect traffic, higher gas prices

Demand, Hurricane Ida drive prices up in past week, but relief is around the corner

Drivers hitting the road for and end-of-summer holiday road trip can expect plenty of company and the highest Labor Day gas prices in seven years.
Drivers hitting the road for and end-of-summer holiday road trip can expect plenty of company and the highest Labor Day gas prices in seven years.

SAN ANTONIO – Drivers hitting the road for and end-of-summer holiday road trip can expect plenty of company and the highest Labor Day gas prices in seven years.

Prices jumped about nine cents in the past week, partly to due a surge in demand and the effects of Hurricane Ida.

Frank Martinez will be laboring this holiday weekend. He’s a Lyft driver and says he’s feeling the pinch at the pump.

“With the job I do, I fill it up every day,” he said. “It adds up.”

Drivers will find gas about a dollar more per gallon compared to last year when the pandemic put a lot of travel in park. This year, the road trip is back as many people are vaccinated.

“Overall, AAA anticipates we could see Labor Day travel levels that could meet or maybe even exceed pre-pandemic levels,” said Josh Zuber, spokesman for AAA Texas.

The other factor pushing prices up in recent days is Hurricane Ida. It knocked out about 15% of the nation’s refining capacity. While drivers may see fluctuation in prices this weekend, analysts do not expect big spikes.

The other positive? The bump at the pump is temporary.

“Really, Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer driving season and, typically, driving tends to fall and prices fall along with that,” Zuber said.

How fast and how far depends primarily on the spread of COVID=19 and how quickly refineries come back on line. Barring any major events, analysts say drivers should see relief at the pump by the end of the month.


About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Dale Keller is senior news photographer at KSAT-12.