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Economy & Business

AAA: Holiday Travelers To See Low Gas Prices As The Coronavirus Keeps Many Home

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Andrea Y. Henderson
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St. Louis Public Radio
Gas prices in the St. Louis area are at their lowest since November 2003, largely because fewer people are driving during the coronavirus pandemic. Missouri also has the lowest gas prices in the nation.

Missouri has the cheapest gas prices in the country because fewer people are driving during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gas prices in St. Louis average about $1.82 per gallon, 45 cents less than a year ago and 30 cents below the national average. Drivers across the state have not seen such low prices since November 2003.

People in the St. Louis region are expected to travel more by car this holiday season because of low gas prices. AAA Missouri predicts that families will hit the road this fall to help keep the virus from spreading.

Many people are working from home and limiting travel to help keep the virus from spreading. Those changed routines and low crude oil prices make for cheap gas at the pump, said Nick Chabarria, the Missouri spokesperson for AAA.

“We expect to kind of continue to see a little bit of a downward trend unless anything major changes with demand, which really hasn't since spring,” Chabarria said.

In recent years, Missouri has consistently been among the 10 states with the lowest gas prices. The state has a low gas tax, no sales tax on gas, a crisscross of pipelines and a central location.

However, the St. Louis region and Kansas City have the highest prices in the state. Pipelines in Joplin and Springfield make it easy to transport gas to cities in southwest Missouri. They also allow gas prices to remain low for gas stations and drivers. Prices at the pumps in southwest Missouri average about $1.65 per gallon.

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American Automobile Association Missouri
Missouri's gas prices across the state are the lowest in the nation.

“Missouri right now is just kind of in the sweet spot in the country, with demand down nationwide,” Chabarria said. “Crude oil is about $20 cheaper than it was last year, so there are just a lot of factors that are kind of all coming together for having some of the lowest gas we've seen in a long time.”

Chabarria said drivers can expect to see low gas prices over the next few months, which will encourage people to take more road trips this fall.

In a AAA Midwest survey, about 80% of the travelers surveyed said they plan to travel this fall by car. Because of the virus, the organization urges people to practice social distancing during their trips.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks people who plan to travel during the holidays to adhere to the pandemic guidelines of the location traveling to, limit the number of people at gatherings and the time spent at get-togethers and wear masks in public settings.

Many people want to travel again but are uncomfortable with flying since airlines are loosening their virus restrictions for the holidays, said Miki Jones, owner of AMJ Getaways Travel Agency.

“Make sure you have plenty of gloves, masks and hand sanitizer, because when you are out and about in all these places, not everybody wears the masks like maybe they do at whatever city people are traveling from,” Jones said.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist.

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