Our Holiday Gift to You! Save $1.99 Through Jan, 1, 2012.
In case you hadn’t noticed, gas prices in the US are now at an all time high heading into the week before Christmas as the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has remained stubbornly above $3.00. In fact gas prices are a full 30 cents per gallon more than last year at this time which, combined with an unprecedented hike in toll fees, makes this Christmas travel season the most expensive on record.
Rather than curse the darkness we’re going to shine a light on what it will cost to drive places this holiday season by offering up our new Cost2Drive iPhone application for free for the remainder of the year. Whether you’re planning a trip home to visit family and friends or planning that winter vacation to the Florida beaches or Colorado ski slopes the Cost2Drive iPhone app will help you budget for the trip by showing fuel costs and save you money by locating the cheapest gas at refueling points along the way. The app also makes it a breeze to quickly compare the cost of driving different vehicles with a simple swipe of a finger and displays the cheapest airfare so you can see if its cheaper to fly or drive to your destination.
Quickly Compare the Cost of Driving Different Vehicles With the Swipe of a Finger
The Cost2Drive iPhone app contains fuel efficiency information on over 20,000 cars and light trucks in the US going back to the 1990 model year and lets you save up to 5 vehicles in the app. It also provides the ability to enter your own custom vehicles making it useful for owners of RVs and motorcycles as well.
Manually Enter Custom Vehicles Like RVs and Motorcycles
So we’ve built alot of value into the iPhone app, but don’t take our word for it check out some of the great reviews the app has received, including this one from CNET TV.
Visit iTunes to download the new app today for FREE and let us know what you think. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can use our Website application to begin planning your car trips for 2012.
We wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday and a happy and prosperous New Year.
Posted in Cost2Drive, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized
Tagged christmas, fuel calculator, gas calculator, holiday, iPhone app, mobile app, travel app, trip costs, trip planner, vacation
Toll Hikes Conspire With Record High Gas Prices to Make This Holiday Travel Season the Most Expensive Ever
As if record high gas prices aren’t enough for travelers to deal with this holiday season drivers must also brace for additional costs related to increased toll fees across much of the nation, especially along the eastern seaboard.
If you’re planning a trip to New York City for a shopping or theater excursion this holiday be aware that back in September the toll rates on the bridges and tunnels increased by 50% so entering the city by car now costs a whopping $12 if you’re paying in cash (EZ Pass prices are $9.50 Peak, $7.50 Off-Peak). There’s something a little scary about tolls that require you to pull a ten-spot out of your wallet for a single crossing, and the Verazzano-Narrows bridge even tops this with a $13 fee. Click on the interactive map below to see the new toll rates at each crossing.
On the first of November a number of toll hikes went into effect in Maryland as well including the toll for the Bay Bridge connecting Maryland’s Eastern Shore with its mainland which increased 60% from $2.50 to $4. Tolls on all three Baltimore Harbor crossings (the Fort McHenry Tunnel, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and the Francis Scott Key Bridge) increased 50% from $2 to $3, and the toll on the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge increased 33% from $3 to $4. In northern Maryland smaller toll hikes of 20% went into effect as the tolls on the the JFK Memorial Highway (I-95) and the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge were raised from $5 to $6.
Maryland has also introduced a brand new toll road, the much-anticipated (and hotly-debated) InterCounty Connector (ICC) that connects I-95 with I-370. This new toll road has been free up until December 5th when a $6 toll went into effect ($4.50 EZ Pass) for driving the entire 18-mile stretch of the road during peak hours on weekdays, or $4.80 ($3.20 EZ Pass) for off-peak hours and weekends and federal holidays. Night owls can save extra money on the ICC as the toll rate drops to $2.60 ($1.90 EZ Pass) from 11 pm to 5 am every day of the week.
Things won’t get any better in 2012, as numerous tolling authorities are set to roll out increases on the first day of the new year with the Illinois Tollway leading the pack with an 87% toll hike on four toll roads (the Jane Adams Memorial Tollway, the Tri-State Tollway, the Reagan Memorial Tollway and the Veterans Memorial Tollway). They have an excellent interactive map of all the toll facilities that you can view here. New Jersey will also be introducing toll hikes of 53% and 50% on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike respectively on New Years Day. At the end of January 50% toll hikes will also go into effect for Hudson river crossings between Bear Mountain and Catskills, NY when tolls will climb to $1.50 ($1.25 EZ Pass) from the current $1 rate.
Many other states have proposals underway to introduce tolls in 2012 and beyond including Missouri where the Dept. of Transportation is considering adding tolls to I-70, the main highway that cuts across the state from east to west, as a way to fund a major rebuilding effort. A similar proposal is underway for interstates I-80 and I-35 in Iowa and tolling actions are planned in Florida and Colorado as well.
So what’s causing this sudden increase in tolls? Woefully underfunded state departments of transportation that are increasingly turning to tolls as a way to rebuild infrastructure without raising taxes. From a consumers perspective its not just the additional cost that’s at issue but the increasing complexity of the fees that make it nearly impossible to predict what it will cost to drive places.
We’re going to be writing a separate post about these new variable tolling structures, but meanwhile we’re working aggressively on finding ways to include toll information into the trip cost estimates we provide on our Cost2Drive website and Cost2Drive iPhone App as its the number one request we hear from our users. Until then we’ve put up a site called Cost of Tolls that aggregates toll information from across the US to help drivers quickly get the latest toll information prior to leaving on a trip.
Posted in Autos, Cost2Drive, Google Maps, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized
Tagged george washington bridge, holiday travel, lincoln tunnel, road trip, toll fees, tolls, trip calculator
On Track to be Highest on Record for Holiday Season
Heading into the 2011 holiday season its beginning to look like getting a lump of coal for Christmas might not be such a bad thing as it can at least be converted into fuel for electric vehicles like the Volt and Leaf. Absent that, or a dramatic end-of-year retreat in fuel prices, we’re all going to be paying record amounts to drive home to visit family as gas prices are at historic highs for this time of year.
Weekly Retail Gas Prices: 1990 to Present (US Energy Information Administration)
Looking at the above chart of average weekly retail gas prices from 1990 to the present one can clearly see the two spikes in 2008 and then again this past summer. At first glance it appears that this year’s trend mirrors that of 2008, with gas prices rising rapidly heading into the summer months only to be followed by steep declines in the fall. However on closer inspection it turns out this is not the case.
During the 2008 spike a record high price of $4.11 a gallon for regular grade gasoline was reached the week of July 7th, a price which subsequently cratered to nearly half that amount by the first week of November. This year’s trend has been quite different with the peak price being reached much earlier in the year (May 9th) and the seasonal drop-off much less dramatic as gas prices are now only 14% below this year’s peak price of $3.97.
Taking a look at the historical price of gas for the first week of November reveals that gas prices are 22% higher than they were heading into the holidays last year and at the highest price ever for this time of year. This despite the fact that the Arab Spring is far behind us and the removal of Qaddafi from oil-producing Libya is no longer in doubt.
So what does this mean for gas prices heading into 2012? Although the US Energy Information Service doesn’t see a return to the near $4 peak we saw earlier this year, some analysts disagree. “I think we will see prices in 2012 that will break … records” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service.
Don’t be caught off guard by high gas prices this holiday season. Before heading home for the holidays be sure to check out the Cost2Drive website or our new Cost2Drive iPhone app to see what it will cost to get there based on current gas prices along your route. It will also help you save money by locating the cheapest gas at refueling points and displays the cheapest airfare so you can see if it will be cheaper to drive or fly home.
Something Unsettling as Gas Prices Reach Historic Highs
Earlier this year a new movie version of the famous Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged was released that depicted the US economy in a disastrous state by 2016 with gas prices at $34 per gallon. This no doubt unsettled the car owners in the audience who were already being pummeled by soaring gas prices for the second time in 3 years, and as unlikely as the above nightmarish scenario is, there’s no question that the persistence of +$3 gas prices is taking a serious toll on the constitution of consumers.
This became more evident last week with the release of a research report from the New America Foundation titled The Price-Induced Energy Trap. The report argues that consumers are in an “energy trap” because their ability to effectively respond to rising gas prices is limited and highly dependent on income levels, with the middle and lower income groups suffering the most. As a result, many of the desired outcomes of a policy-by-price approach (such as increased purchases of hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles) are never realized because the neediest people cannot afford them, creating a paradox that defies traditional supply and demand elasticity curves.
Middle & Lower Income Groups Most Affected Source: New America
Putting mind-numbing economics lingo aside, the real story here is that as temperatures have fallen across much of the nation gas prices have not, at least not to the levels we’ve come to expect with autumn setting in. In fact, as reported by AAA and later picked up by the LA Times, gas prices are at historic highs for this time of year and 22.6% higher than the previous record.
In fact gas prices are rising much faster than incomes, so its hard not to feel a little queasy these days when glancing at the gas gauge and seeing it drop below a quarter tank. This likely explains why earlier this year AAA reported an upsurge in the number of stranded drivers due to vehicles that had run out of gas. Apparently many people were stretching out the intervals between refueling in the delusional hope gas prices would decline, a somewhat disturbing change in behavior that reflects the impact high gas prices have on people.
I’ll relate another rather disturbing episode I encountered this past spring on a trip from New York to DC. It was late at night, well after midnight, and I had stopped at a rest stop in Maryland to grab some coffee to keep me awake for the remainder of my journey (thank goodness Starbucks was open). As I left my vehicle I heard a woman’s voice call out to me, something about gas and getting home. I warily looked over and saw a woman of middle age waving me over from the front seat of what looked to be a 20-year-old Jeep Cherokee.
As I approached her she started waiving her wallet out the window. Did she want to show me her ID? Then I realized she was showing me her wallet was empty, and she explained that she needed money to buy enough gas to take her the 32 miles to her home. I handed the woman a few dollars, and then after thinking about it handed her a few more (unfortunately our Cost2drive iPhone app hadn’t launched yet or I could have given her the exact amount).
Something about the whole scene was upsetting. The woman didn’t look indigent, she could have been my mother and I doubt that she’s accustomed to begging for money. It made me recall some of the scenes from Atlas Shrugged, and as I got back in my car to head back to DC I started to feel a little nauseous.
New App Featured in Special ‘On the Road’ Section for Car Apps
The big news keeps rolling in for our new Cost2Drive iPhone app as this weekend we learned the app has been featured in a special ‘On the Road’ section of iTunes for car apps. The Cost2Drive iPhone app, which calculates driving costs and compares it with flying, has been receiving a steady stream of great reviews and press attention since we launched it over Labor Day weekend and has quickly become a Top 20 app in the Travel category in the App Store.
We’re extremely excited by the great interest we’ve had in the Cost2Drive iPhone app both from consumers and the media and are looking forward to making it even more of a must-have app for car travelers across the globe so stay tuned for even more exciting news from C2G on this front.
Meanwhile check out the new app in iTunes and let us know what you think!
Great review of our new app by the CNET TV team. You can view the full episode here.
Fly or Drive? An Easy Way to Compare Costs as reported by Herb Tabin of CBS 12.
Reviews, Press Mentions Catapults App into Top 10 Ranking
It’s been an exciting week since we launched our latest update to the new Cost2Drive iPhone app, version 1.0.1 with Kayak flight integration, and the reviews have been coming in fast and favorably. Right on the heels of last week’s great coverage by Sebastian Blanco at Autoblog and Craig Agranoff from CBS Radio Buzz 103, this week followed up with a bang with reviews from CNET, AutoGuide and CBS 12 TV.
On Tuesday Antuan Goodwin of CNET gave this great review of the Cost2Drive iPhone app followed by this TV segment from Herb Tabin of CBS 12, West Palm Beach, FL. The week culminated with another strong review by Amy Tokic at AutoGuide.
We were thrilled to see that the great reviews and media attention helped catapult the Cost2Drive iPhone app into a Top 10 ranking in iTunes, and are committed to constantly improving the app based on user feedback so look for more exciting upgrades in the very near future.
Thanks everyone that has purchased the app and please don’t hesitate to share your feedback by submitting reviews in iTunes or directly to us via the app.
If you haven’t downloaded the app you can get it here or by going to iTunes and searching on Cost2Drive.