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At $1.99 a gallon, gas in Buffalo is lowest since 2009

Say goodbye to staycations.

With the average price of gasoline in the Buffalo area dropping to $1.99 on Tuesday – the lowest since 2009 – travel branches of AAA Western and Central New York recorded an uptick in requests for TripTik travel planners for drivers looking to hit the road in the spring.

“The branches have been busy,” said Traci A. Schupp, team leader of the Amherst AAA Travel Branch on International Drive. “We do have a lot of members requesting TripTiks who will be going to the Florida area by car. With the weather not being as severe here, they are planning driving trips because they would not be spending the high prices for gas to fill their tanks.”

For starters, if you were to leave Buffalo today in your 2015 Toyota Corolla and drive 1,199 miles to Orlando, you would use 44.5 gallons and spend $83.55. Driving back would put the total at $167.10.

Now take the family for the same trip in a 2015 GMC Terrain 4WD. At current gas costs, the sport utility vehicle would use 54.5 gallons one way and cost you $102.54. For a round trip, the cost would be $205.08.

The cost estimates were made using fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/fuelcostcalculator.

Now, the average price of gas in New York State is $2.02 a gallon. Last year at this time, the average locally was $2.47. “We’ve become gas nerds ever since the national average dipped below the $2 mark,” said Elizabeth A. Carey, public affairs manager for AAA Western and Central New York. “The question became: When would Buffalo reach that point?”

The national average hit $1.99 on Dec. 21. Today’s national average is $1.73.

Locally, Signals on Southwestern Boulevard in Irving had a “decent” flow of customers Tuesday taking advantage of the most affordable gas in the area, selling for $1.47. Signals joined a handful of Native American gasoline outlets in the area in offering the price to beat. Coastal, a Main Street station in the City of Tonawanda, on Tuesday sold gas at $2.35 per gallon, making it the most costly in the area, according to gasbuddy.com.

“Gasoline demand typically begins to increase starting in February, which also marks the beginning of the spring refinery maintenance season, meaning a lower output of product,” Carey said. “By late winter, the national average could rise 50 cents per gallon or more as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance in advance of the busy summer driving season. Despite the likelihood of higher prices by spring, AAA does not expect the national average price to rise above $3 per gallon in 2016.”

Both gasoline and crude oil supplies are at record levels and two of the nation’s more volatile markets – the Midwest and the West – are reporting ample supplies.

“As gasoline supply continues to bulge, prices continue to shrink,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “Wholesale gasoline prices in the Midwest have lost more than half of their value since the beginning of the year and prices at the pump haven’t fully reflected that yet. Incredible as it sounds, we wouldn’t be shocked to see a few stations in these Great Lake states as low as 99 cents a gallon.”

New York remains among the Top 10 states with the most expensive average gas prices, while Californians pay $2.50 on average for a gallon of gas, according to the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

As the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary this year, AAA’s Schupp is among those hoping that gas prices will stay low.

“A lot of people will be able to drive to our parks,” she said. “Do you want to buy an airline ticket or see the country?”

email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com