Rising fuel costs put damper on summer road-trip plans, survey says
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A summer trip to Calgary seemed like a good idea. Then, Mona Asham considered gas prices.
“It’s just too much,” Asham said Monday while filling her vehicle on $1.79 per litre.
The Winnipegger said she’d browse plane tickets and gas prices closer to July’s Calgary Stampede. As of right now, though, she’ll be staying home.
Two-thirds of Manitobans plan to cancel or limit their road trips this summer due to skyrocketing fuel costs, according to a new survey from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.
Over three quarters — 78 per cent — said they believe today’s gas prices are “the new normal”.
“They’re not coming down unless there’s a global recession,” said Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy. “I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to see an increase this summer.”
Gas prices could rise another 10 cents by May long weekend, he said.
“Demand (for fuel) is still very strong,” he said. “Supply just isn’t there, and it’s one of the main reasons why we’ve been seeing prices rise as dramatically as they have.”
Early Monday, most Winnipeg pumps were displaying $1.79 per litre, a record high. Prices were up 11 cents from the prior Monday. A year earlier — May 9, 2021 — gas was $1.27, 52.2 cents below the current rate.
Opher Baron, an operations management professor at the University of Toronto, said higher gas prices drive up shipping costs and prices on goods like groceries and clothing.
But, Canada is such a large and rural country with inadequate public transit in some areas, many people don’t have an alternative but to pay higher prices at the pump, Baron said.
“It sucks,” said Leona Waldner, who was at Grant Park Shopping Centre Monday.
Waldner said she camps in the Whiteshell most summer weekends. Her number of trips might decrease as gas costs rise, she said. Still, she’s driving to Thompson and Alberta.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to pay (for gas) anyways because we’re doing things,” she said.
Waldner is part of a Facebook group where Manitoban hikers share their experiences; more seem to be offering up carpooling, which Waldner is open to, she said.
“(I’ll) maybe extend (my) stays a little bit longer to make it worth the gas.” – Leona Waldner
“(I’ll) maybe extend (my) stays a little bit longer to make it worth the gas,” she said.
There’s pent-up demand for travel after two years of a pandemic, said Susan Postma, CAA Manitoba’s regional manager.
“(People are) eager to book a trip, they’re eager to connect with family,” she said.
Still, CAA Manitoba isn’t yet seeing 2019 road trip levels. Volume is around 70 to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic bookings, Postma said.
“The price of gas is not to be discounted,” she said. “When (some travellers) see the gas prices, then maybe they aren’t venturing as far.”
Fuel costs are “a point of consideration” for clients’ budgets, Postma said. Some are staying within the province.
It’s the case for Paul Dan, who fuelled his vehicle at the McGillivray Costco’s gas bar Monday. But, his main concern for travel continues to be COVID-19 transmission.
“I know it’s not 100 per cent safe,” Dan said, adding gas prices don’t help.
Inflated bills at the pump are threatening the way some businesses operate.
PetToba, a pet supply shop, may have to change its free same-day delivery if prices keep rising, said owner Naman Patel.
“As a company, we are incurring the extra cost, but we don’t want to… change anything (for customers),” Patel said.
“We are a driving culture.” – Michal Majernik
PetToba might reduce its delivery dates or start charging, he said.
“We are a driving culture,” noted Michal Majernik, the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada’s communications manager.
Maintaining good tire pressure is one way to increase fuel efficiency, he said.
“Tire maintenance is possibly the easiest thing you can do for your car,” he said, adding drivers should check their tires monthly.
Gas prices in Vancouver reached $2.229 per litre Monday. The national average was $1.90, according to GasBuddy.
The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada’s survey, which 1,538 Canadians took, has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Leger conducted the poll.
— with files from The Canadian Press
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.