Monthly Archives: June 2014

New Look And Travel Features Coming To TurnpikeInfo.com

TurnpikeInfo.com new home page

The new home page of TurnpikeInfo.com features a touch-slider that will enable you to search popular toll roads from any device, using either a mouse or the swipe of your finger! Click the image to enlarge it.

After six weeks of experimentation, I am pleased to announce the design of a new home page for TurnpikeInfo.com has been largely completed. While there are some minor adjustments to be made, the new home of TurnpikeInfo.com can be officially unveiled. The home page redesign is part of a larger website upgrade that is continuing through the summer of 2014. That redesign includes streamlining navigation, adding new travel features, adding several new roads, including bridges and tunnels that charge tolls, as well as rolling out a fully responsive website design. What that means is the information you will be able to get on the desktop will be the same on a tablet and a smart phone. Until now, the desktop website and the mobile website were separate entities, which essentially has forced us to pick what kind of material is delivered to our mobile users, and I have never really liked the fact they seem to have been short-changed on the information we offer.

Responsive design

A teaser image we placed on our Twitter feed June 13, which shows how the new home page automatically adjusts to any screen and device. The responsive design will eliminate the need for a mobile website platform.

This is the first major redesign of TurnpikeInfo.com since we added Pennsylvania and Ohio to our site in June 2012, at which time we became a truly interstate site. Last year, we added the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway to our list, and as we go through the summer, we will be adding the Delaware Memorial Bridge, Delaware Turnpike, the Indiana East-West Toll Road, the Chicago Skyway and the various tollways around the Chicago area. The design and information upgrades are a major step forward in making TurnpikeInfo.com a full-service travel site, but they are only the beginning.

New lodging search

Our new lodging channel will not only provide options to search hotels, you will be able to reserve a room even while you travel, thanks to a reservations engine provided by our partners at Priceline. Click the image to enlarge it.

In May, we quietly unveiled our new lodging channel, which works with a booking engine hosted by our partners at Priceline. The lodging feature is already active, as any of you searching tolls will already have noticed. When you get toll results, there is a lodging icon that is displayed whenever there are hotels or motels that can be reserved near your destination city. The data are provided directly by Priceline, as is the reservations system, which means your reservations are safe and guaranteed. As we refine the site further, there will be options to search for hotels and motels adjacent to specific exits, so you will be able to actually plan your travel more efficiently with TurnpikeInfo.com

As we go through July, the current site will be completely replaced with the new design, and the new features we are developing will continue to be added through August. As that happens, you will see many pages change location, but there will be automatic forwards built in so you will always easily find the information you are seeking. In fact, the new design and structure of the site is meant to be super easy to navigate, with no-nonsense icons that are either identical to or closely resemble those you would see on the highway.

This is an exciting time for TurnpikeInfo.com, and I am so glad to be able to count you among the site’s visitors and users!

UPDATE ON NOVEMBER 4, 2014: After two delays due to the complexities of migrating to a new system, in addition to the fact I run two businesses and am media developer for a third, I can confidently state we will have our new site online by the Thanksgiving holiday. I apologize for the delays, but believe me, the new and upgraded site, which will include new toll roads, will have been worth your wait.

Thank you, again, for your patience and your support!

Gas Price Trends Return To The Norm: Going Up

Weekly gas price trend for June 23, 2014The price of a gallon of gas returned to the $3.70 level during the past week, pushed in part by the increased demand brought on by summer driving, but more so by the radical instability that continues to shake Iraq. The national average and regional figures are reported in the weekly survey published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The $3.70 threshold represents the first time since the end of April that the national cost of fuel has been so high.

Prices had been declining during May, albeit very slowly, primarily on lower demand in states like Florida and remarkable volatility in the Midwest, notably Ohio and Illinois. Those declines had been held in check by a dwindling supply of crude oil Cushing, Oklahoma, a major supplier of crude to refineries across the nation. However, the military strife that has literally ripped Iraq to shreds in recent weeks has pushed the price of West Texas Intermediate to levels not seen since 2011.

Trading started over $107 per barrel Monday, before settling at $106.17 by day’s end. Crude prices were retreating sharply in after-hours trading late Monday night on news that extreme fighting in Iraq would possibly not affect that nation’s oil supply or refineries. That bit of good news, albeit speculation, was just enough to push investors to take profits on crude for August delivery, pushing the WTI down to $105.69 by 11 p.m.

Ohio Turnpike signs near Cleveland

Drivers across Ohio enjoyed a major price decline. For Cleveland, the cost of gas dropped 15¢ per gallon, according to the weekly EIA report.

Region by region, only Midwestern drivers enjoyed a dip in the price at the pump this week. The average regional price of gas dropped about 2¢ per gallon during the past week, the E.I.A. reported, a decline that was spurred by significant price changes in Ohio and Illinois. Drivers in the Buckeye state, on average, enjoyed a 13¢ drop in the per gallon price of regular unleaded. In Cleveland, the price declines were even greater, as drivers enjoyed a 15¢ per gallon drop in prices. Chicago, which often dominates Illinois’ price points, enjoyed a 9¢ per gallon price decline.

The Rocky Mountain states did not fare so well, and neither did the Gulf Coast states. Prices in Denver pushed upward over 7¢ per gallon as the broader Rocky Mountain region saw prices jump nearly 8¢ per gallon. In the Deep South, drivers in states from Alabama to Texas watched as prices pushed upward by about a 7¢ per gallon. However, the Gulf Coast enjoys the lowest regional price of fuel, at about $3.49.

For truckers, the cost of diesel is heading back up, as well, bringing an end to a six-week streak lower prices. Diesel fuel pushed up about 4¢ per gallon across the U.S., but prices along the West Coast moved even higher, up about 7¢ per gallon. The price increases were the largest endured by truckers since the end of February.

DOWNLOAD THE WEEKLY GAS PRICE SURVEY

ISIS Crisis In Iraq Creates Reversal Of Fortune For U.S. Drivers

Retail Gas Prices Rise Amid Turmoil In Mideast

Weekly gas price trend for June 16, 2014Forget about the pithy battles in Ukraine. The sudden takeover of much of northwestern Iraq by forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS, has caused investors to bid up the cost of Brent Light Sweet Crude and, in particular, the domestic crude oil, West Texas Intermediate. The result for U.S. drivers is the momentary decline in gas prices has reversed, and with crude oil prices spiking at record levels, wholesale gasoline prices have already followed suit, leading to an anticipatory hike in retail gasoline prices that is already affecting American drivers.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest weekly survey of retail prices shows the average gallon of unleaded gasoline in the U.S. is up two cents, back to the $3.69 level it was two weeks ago. While the weekly rise was not as severe as some week-over-week price hikes experienced this year, it is a portent of things to come, particularly when one examines the crude and wholesale futures markets at the New York Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX.

Crude Oil Spikes To Record Levels As Whole Sale Gas Jumps

The price of crude oil has spiked well above $106 per barrel for WTI, and traders are bidding the price closer to the $107 mark, a level not seen since 2011. That is a price point not uncommon for overseas crude oil, notably Brent, which is now above $112 per barrel, a level not seen since last year. The more immediate impactor for consumer gas prices is the wholesale futures index. Reformulated oxygenate blends, RBOB, were trading nearly $3.08 per gallon on NYMEX Monday, which is about seven cents per gallon more than the previous 2014 high point on May 19. The reasons are clear: Investors fear major supply disruptions from Iraq at a time when global demand is increasing.

Retail Prices Could Begin Spiking In Less Than Two Weeks

What is the crux of all these numbers? If the trends over the past year continue, consumers will feel a pinch at the pump within ten days, with the weekly fuel survey reflecting a major spike in gas prices by the end of June. TurnpikeInfo.com’s research of RBOB shows retail prices tend to lag about 10 – 14 days behind the wholesale future prices, when looking at the trend lines adjacent to each other.

The problem could be worse in some regions and cities, in particular, where fuel costs are known to be highly volatile. For instance, Ohio has been enduring wild swings in gas prices for weeks, and the latest survey shows another 6¢ per gallon increase during the past week. Two states away, in Chicago, the cost of gasoline lurch upward by 8¢ per gallon, to $4.09. That erased price drops in recent weeks, and even stacked on additional costs for consumers. Even price declines in some states, where seasonal travel actually slows at this time of year, notably Florida, recent declines of gas prices continued but slowed. On a region-by-region basis, consumers were generally paying at least the same, and often more, than they did last week.

DOWNLOAD THE WEEKLY GAS PRICE SURVEY

Gas Prices Give Back Gains; Diesel Prices Take A Summer Dip

Last Week’s Gas Price Increase Erased As East Coast Enjoys A Summer Break In Price Hikes

Weekly gas price trend for June 9, 2014The price of gas reversed course during the past week as the 2¢ gains that were reported in the June 2 government fuel price survey were wiped out this week. The pricing news is journaled in the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This week’s E.I.A. report shows the price of gas did a precise about-face, at least on a national level, while prices declined more so in many regions. The Rocky Mountain States and the broader West Coast region, which does not include California, were the only survey areas where prices stagnated. At the national level, the price of gas now averages about $3.67 for a gallon of regular unleaded, exactly where it was two weeks ago.

The biggest price declines were found along the East Coast, particularly in the Lower Atlantic States, where prices were down over two cents, on average, from last week. Along the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest, prices were also off by about two pennies, but for the Midwest, as usual, the average price data are distorted by substantial swings in fuel costs in certain states. For instance, in Ohio, which has endured substantial price volatility, the average gallon of gas costs 12¢ less this week. At the city level, the numbers are even more telling. For Cleveland, the price of gas dropped about 12¢, much like its home state of Ohio, but two states over, in Illinois, the price of gas in Chicago only fell about 4¢ per gallon.

Truckers Catch A Break As Diesel Drives Below $3.90

Truckers enjoying lower diesel prices

Diesel prices are at a five-month low after the national average fell below $3.90 per gallon this week.

For the first time since January, the national average price of diesel fuel dropped below $3.90 per gallon, according to this week’s E.I.A. report. The price of diesel slipped downward by almost 3¢ per gallon during the past week, officially settling at $3.89. That price point is the best figure truckers and other diesel drivers have seen since the end of January, when prices began a continue climb to well over $4.00 per gallon.

While this week’s news is good for truckers, prices in New England, the Central Atlantic region and in California remain well above $4.00 per gallon. Only the drivers in the Gulf Coast states are enjoying relatively low diesel prices, as the average from Alabama through Louisiana is now about $3.77 per gallon.

Uncertainty Looms As Crude Oil Futures Soar Once More

While this week’s gas price survey is the best report from the EIA in about a month, the news is not likely to persist in drivers’ favor. The reason is the all-important crude oil futures index, West Texas Intermediate, which has been trading in record territory in this year. In fact, after-hours trades on Monday, June 9, were the their highest level of the year, and the highest level seen in three years. Investors trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange had bid the WTI up to about $104.50 per barrel as of 8:30 p.m. Monday night. That would place the futures index, at least on the NYMEX, within range of its three-year high, a portent of what could face consumers at the retail level come July.

Bloomberg News is citing a number of factors for the increase in the futures price, including tightening supplies of crude oil in the United States, which is the world’s largest oil market. Other factors included speculation in the wake of last week’s favorable unemployment report, which leads investors to believe more people will be on the road for business and pleasure in the coming weeks.  The likelihood of increased demand during the summer travel season, coupled with renewed demand from China, has investors eyeballing the possibility of tighter supplies amid increased consumer need.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported renewed unrest in Libya, where political discord during the past three years has severely disrupted production. Output is being reported at only about 180,000 barrels of oil per day, compared with about 1.3-million per day one year ago.

DOWNLOAD THE WEEKLY GAS PRICE SURVEY

Gas Prices Nudge Upward As Midwest Leads National Average

Price Breaks End With Start Of June And Summer Driving Season

Weekly gas price trend for June 2, 2014The cost of a gallon of gasoline slipped upward about two cents per gallon during the past week, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.69, as retail gas prices gave up a three-week respite and continued what has been a steady series of increases since the second week of February. Although prices did take a breather at the beginning of May, falling two consecutive weeks, those price declines were caused largely by significant price volatility in the Midwest, where the cost of fuel rises and falls in major swings from week to week.

Midwest Drivers Endure Shocking Rise In Gas Prices

In fact, it is the Midwest’s almost notorious volatility that has contributed to this week’s U.S. average price hike, with Ohio leading way. Drivers in the Buckeye State suffered a 6¢ per gallon leap in gas prices. At the local level, prices in Cleveland hopped up about 10¢ per gallon. In Chicago, prices jumped a heart-stopping 14¢ to push their way past the $4.00 threshold. In fact, prices in Chicago average $4.06 per gallon, although that is not the highest rate in the nation. Los Angeles is among the cities that shares the dubious distinction of gas prices over the 4-dollar mark, with the average driver in the city of angels paying about $4.18 per gallon.

Chicago aerial view of skyline and the loop

Drivers in Chicago suffered a 14¢ hike in the average price of gas, as unleaded hit $4.06 per gallon.

Region to region, the price of gas is spinning on an axis of uncertainty, with the cost of driving holding steady across a large swatch of the Eastern seaboard. The cost of fuel in New England remains around $3.73 per gallon this week, and prices across the Mid-Atlantic region held steady at $3.70. In the Lower Atlantic, the cost of gas dipped by about 2¢. However, prices in the Rocky Mountain states and along the Gulf Coast were facing pressure to begin a fresh round of cost increases; on the West Coast, most drivers are paying about two-cents more this week than they were last week.

Crude Oil Prices Remain Above $100 Per Barrel

The increase in gas prices comes on the heels of renewed increase in the crude oil futures prices. Prices in early May declined slightly as West Texas Intermediate began to fall below $100 per barrel, but the bid on futures contracts quickly reversed. WTI peaked May 23 at $104.39. After-hours WTI prices were trading at $102.54 Monday night, and Bloomberg News was reporting earlier in the day that traders are watching inventories closely before making any buying or selling decisions. In fact, trading volume was about 60 percent below the 100-day trading average, meaning investors are waiting on the sidelines for new inventory and refinery stock reports. The EIA issues such reports on a weekly basis.

Truckers’ Diesel Prices Holding Steady For Now

Meanwhile, the cost of operating a tractor-trailer rig, at least where fuel is concerned, remained nearly the same this week. Prices have been slipping down in tiny fractions for the past several weeks, and the national average of a gallon of diesel is now about $3.92. That is down about 10¢ per gallon since prices peaked on February 24. However, there are plenty of areas where the cost of diesel is still well above $4.00 per gallon, including California, New England and the Central Atlantic regions. On the East Coast, truckers from Maryland to Maine were paying an average of $4.12 per gallon, while the price in California was about $4.10.

DOWNLOAD THE WEEKLY GAS PRICE SURVEY