For the second month in a row, Texans bought less gasoline then they did in the same month the year before. Associate Research Scientist Dave Ellis of the Texas Transportation Institute says the May 2008 fuel purchases in the state are down about 1 percent from the previous May. April figures were down 3.2 percent from 2007.
Ellis has been analyzing raw gasoline consumption data from the Texas Comptroller’s Office and adjusting the figures for population increases and other factors.
“We expect the decline to continue during the summer months because that’s when the traditional vacation period occurs and a higher percentage of miles driven are discretionary miles. I believe more people will elect to stay close to home because of the price at the pump,” Ellis says.
Ellis would not be surprised to see gasoline consumption decline as much as 4 percent in the upcoming figures during the summer months, and, perhaps, decline less at the beginning of fall. “That’s a time when the data indicate that consumers become less sensitive to price, primarily we think, because a smaller percentage of miles driven are discretionary — in other words, a higher percentage of the trips become work or school trips and less travel to the beach or wherever.”
As gasoline prices have increased, cities across the state have reported transit use, including the use of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, on the rise during the last few months.
Ellis, based on his study of gas consumption trends, recently testified at a state legislative panel examining the influence of fuel price on vehicle miles traveled.