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Gas prices to remain stable

September 03, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Gas prices are expected to remain stable in the Tri-State area through the Labor Day weekend, a drastic difference from last Labor Day when pump prices jumped about 9 cents per gallon one week before the end-of-summer holiday, a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman said.

Amanda Knittle, public relations specialist with AAA Mid-Atlantic, said that Maryland and Pennsylvania's average price for regular unleaded self-serve gas is now $1.87, two cents less than it was a month ago, while West Virginia's average price remains as it was a month ago at $1.89.

Some people interviewed Thursday pumping gas at Hagerstown stations said they weren't bothered by current gas prices, but did not have plans to travel this holiday weekend.

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Richard Wolters, 46, of Hagerstown said he doesn't "usually go on vacation on Labor Day." Wolters was pumping gas at Sheetz on Dual Highway, where unleaded fuel was $1.80 a gallon, a price he said didn't bother him.

Crystal Drummond, 23, of Salisbury, Md., said she was headed home Thursday. Gas prices in Hagerstown "are better than they are at home," she said.

Hagerstown's current average gasoline price was $1.86, Knittle said.

Last Labor Day, unleaded fuel prices were an average of $1.68 in Maryland, $1.73 in Pennsylvania and $1.70 in West Virginia, nine cents more than they were a week before the holiday, Knittle said.

Gas prices around Memorial Day, a holiday weekend that typically sends more motorists onto the highways than does the Labor Day weekend, set record highs in the Tri-State area this year, she said.

Maryland's record-high price for gasoline was on June 3 when it cost an average $2.05 a gallon to pump regular unleaded fuel. Pennsylvania's recorded high was on May 29, when regular unleaded cost an average $2.06 a gallon. West Virginia's recorded high was on May 27, when the average price was $2.03.

Knittle said that AAA is estimating that 585,000 Marylanders will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, 475,000 of whom it estimates will be driving.

She said that AAA estimated that 650,000 people traveled 50 miles or more on over the Memorial Day weekend, including an estimated 550,000 who it is estimated drove.

"People are traveling no matter what," Knittle said.

She said motorists can try to save on gasoline by adjusting how they drive: maintaining steady speeds, accelerating and braking gradually and cutting down on time spent idling.

Low tire pressure can cut down on the number of miles a vehicle can get per gallon, and a good tuneup can increase a vehicle's gas mileage, she said.

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