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Thanksgiving travel could mean an increase in gas prices

Thanksgiving is upon us and the holiday season is just around the corner. That means an increase in the number of travelers across the country. What that also means is an increase in gas prices.

At around $2.96, gas prices in Western New York continue to be well above the national average of $2.63 per gallon. Statewide prices are up 19 cents from one year ago, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. AAA Public Relations Director Elizabeth Carey said there are a number of factors as to why gas prices remain high in the area.

"Here in Western New York we are still waiting for a decline," said Carey. "What happens is that New York State is usually higher than some of the other parts of the country based on the tax structure that is here in New York State. So we do pay more gas tax, but compared to places like Pennsylvania, they just raise their gas tax last year, it's a little bit cheaper in New York State. So you have to kind of compare. So if you are taking a road trip for the Thanksgiving holiday, you can compare states, see how things rank."

As to why Buffalo's gas prices don't decline at the same time as the national average declines, Carey explained:

"Right now, nationally, it's about $2.68 a gallon. In New York State it's about $2.90 a gallon, and in Buffalo it's $2.96. So a lot of times what we see in Buffalo is Buffalo is very slow to raise it's prices, but when they get higher they're very slow to lower them. So now that New York State's has dropped, hopefully Buffalo's will follow suit and be coming down."

But with those high prices, drivers tend to try and find the station with the cheapest price per gallon.

"Retail bidding wars are great for the driver because that's how you'll save some money," she said. "So if you see a big box retailer, if you see a BJ's with a gas station or a Tops with a gas station. They're going to be able to lower their prices and try and compete with one another and that will bring the prices down in different areas."

With millions of people set to be traveling for Thanksgiving, Carey said travel is expected to be up 5 percent compared to last year.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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