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.
The Fans, Environment Take the Biggest Hit
This week’s sports news was filled with stories of major college football conferences jockeying for new teams while panic set in for conferences like the Big East that have been shedding teams faster than defectors fleeing the Soviet Union when the Berlin Wall fell. TCU bolted on the Big East without playing a single game and were quickly followed by long-time members Syracuse, Pittsburgh and then last week West Virginia.
Apparently geography was not a factor in the mad dash to join new conferences as some teams ended up looking like remote outposts of their new conference brethren.
Map of Big 12 Teams after WVU Joins
WVU is a good example as it ended up joining the Big 12 Conference which consists largely of teams from the Southwest region whose nearest team, Iowa State, is a distant 874 miles away from the WVU campus in Morgantown, WV.
Compare that with WVU’s nearest Big East foe Pittsburgh who is a short 80 miles up highway 79 and you’ll quickly see who’s going to suffer most by these realignments. We took a look at what Mountaineer fans will be paying in travel costs to get to the nearest possible road game in the Big 12 conference versus the Big East using our new Cost2Drive iPhone app.
WVU to Nearest Away Game - Big East vs Big 12
Assuming you’re driving a sedan (in the above example a 2004 Inifiti G35) you can see that fans driving to away games will be forced to shell out 12 times as much for fuel to get the nearest away game for the Big 12 Conference at Iowa State compared to the annual Big East backyard brawl with Pitt. If they choose to fly, the cheapest round trip flight is $354 which isn’t an option (or a necessity) for the Pitt game.
If you apply the $110 difference in gas costs and double it for a round trip Mountaineer fans will be paying an additional $220 to drive to the nearest road game when it joins the Big 12 Conference. Apply this to 10,000 fans and you’re talking $2,200,000 per game from consumers in a period when high gas prices are already taking a big chunk of their wallets. Assuming at least 5 away games each year and it amounts to over $10 million per team, and that’s not even factoring in the environmental impact from the additional carbon footprint this will generate.
Perhaps all these conference realignments will end up creating a windfall for the travel industry, but I fear the expense may prove too much for the cash-strapped students who tend to be the most ardent college football fans.
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.