Arlington, VA
Press Release

Moments Of Zen: The Average Cost Of Gas Dips Below $3 Per Gallon Across The Washington Metro Area

October 30, 2014

Metro Area Prices Drop Below $3 Threshold For The First Time In Four Years

Cent by cent and day by day, the retail cost of gasoline has steadily dipped across the Washington Metro area, from the Federal District to the panhandle of West Virginia. Overnight, pump prices dipped below the $3 per gallon threshold at filling stations across the length, width, height, and depth of the Greater Washington area for the first time in 1,420 days.

Today’s average retail price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline at $2.99 is 9 cents less than one week ago, 30 cents cheaper than a month ago, and 30 cents less expensive than one year ago. This marks the first time since December 9, 2010 that the average price of gasoline has dropped to less than $3 a gallon across the DMV, a term signifying the District, Maryland, and Virginia, explains AAA Mid-Atlantic. Local consumers are not alone in enjoying this unexpected bonanza a month before the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel season. Nearly sixty percent of the retail gasoline stations in the nation are posting prices below $3 per gallon, according to the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS).

“The bit by bit downward trend in area pump prices means 9,331,587 consumers in the largest metropolitan area in the southeast region are enjoying the lowest gasoline prices in almost four years,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “This is an important milestone or pivot point, perhaps. Area consumers have endured pump prices above $3 or more a gallon locally for 202 straight weeks. Their ordeal began when the average retail price reached that dreaded benchmark around Christmastime of 2010, making it the first Christmas travel season with gas prices that high.”

Gas Prices As of October 29, 2014
(Self-serve Regular)
Location Price Today Price Yesterday Month Ago Year Ago
Washington, D.C. $3.25 $3.27 $3.52 $3.46
Metro Area $2.99 $3.00 $3.29 $3.29
Maryland $2.98 $2.99 $3.32 $3.30
Suburban Maryland $3.03 $3.04 $3.34 $3.33
Virginia $2.80 $2.81 $3.13 $3.13
West Virginia $3.11 $3.11 $3.42 $3.39
National $3.02 $3.03 $3.34 $3.28

Although the cost of gasoline had remained above three dollars a gallon for 1,407 consecutive days nationally, it was a psychological barrier for many consumers. They are far happier with pump prices below the $3 line of demarcation. Although the average annual price of gasoline soared to $3.25 in 2008, it dipped to an average of $2.35 per gallon in 2009, and $2.71 per gallon on average during 2010. However, the annual average escalated to $3.51 per gallon in 2011, $3.60 on average in 2012 before dipping to an annual average of $3.49 in 2013.

With the national retail average nearing $3 a gallon, consumers are still paying more than a billion dollars a day on their fuel purchases. Many energy analysts, including AAA, believe “less expensive gasoline may encourage people to drive more and worry less about the financial burden of filling up their tanks.”

While it is true that the cost of gasoline normally drops in the fall, which marks the end of the summer driving season, according to the law of averages, the precipitous drop in pump prices has been nothing short of breathtaking this autumn. The trend-line could continue for the foreseeable future, according to the AAA and other energy analysts, barring any cataclysmic factors.

As a rule of thumb, gasoline prices generally track crude oil prices. Many metro area consumers were never quite comfortable with higher gasoline prices as $3 or more per gallon emerged as the new normal. Throughout the years they remained frustrated with the price point. Like frogs in the kettle, some consumers adapted and became less inclined to change their driving habits or lifestyles to offset gasoline prices in the intervening years.

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