Marin residents rethink holiday travel as gas prices surge

Dawn Boyll of Vacaville, who grew up in Marin and drives into the county a couple days a week for work, discusses fuel prices and inflation in San Rafael, Calif., On Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal )

Glenn Robinson of San Rafael isn’t planning to leave Marin over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m going to be at my house.”

Robinson, 40, travels throughout the Bay Area, working as a barber and cosmetologist. He’s seen gasoline prices tick up steadily over the last months –– a full tank now costs him $ 83 compared to $ 50 to $ 60 a few months ago. The price surge has also discouraged customers who drive to San Rafael to see him, he said.

“It’s a financial violation,” he said. “It’s strictly capitalism.”

Robinson’s not alone. Across Marin, residents say they are wary of leaving over the long weekend, with many saying they’ll instead spend time locally with family instead. They do not anticipate receiving guests either, a potentially worrisome sign for Marin communities that rely on tourism dollars.

“It affects everybody and it makes things difficult,” said Robert Rawlings, 71, of Sausalito. “The affluency in Marin, people may not feel it so much, but it’s here. It means people might not come here. ”

Travel is on the calendar for some, however. AAA said the unofficial start of summer will involve 39.2 million people traveling 50 miles or more from home. The auto club said travel volume is expected to increase 8.3% compared to 2021, bringing it in line with levels not seen since 2017 and suggesting a notable post-pandemic jump.

Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said volume is expected to be “on fire.”

“People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months,” Twidale said.

AAA said the vacation volume –– bolstered by an increase in air travelers and 34.9 million automobile travelers –– was expected despite painful prices at the pump.

Traffic flows down Third Street between the Arco and Chevron gas stations in San Rafael on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)
Traffic flows down Third Street between the Arco and Chevron gas stations in San Rafael on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

The national average for a gallon of gasoline is $ 4.59, and all 50 states are above $ 4 per gallon, AAA reported. In California, the average cost of regular unleaded was $ 6.07 as of Tuesday. In Marin, the average cost was just above $ 6.28.

The average price for a gallon of gas has not fallen for almost a month, according to AAA.

In San Rafael, at the corner of Second and D streets, the Arco offers an unleaded gallon for $ 5.99 in cash or $ 6.09 for debit / credit. Across the street at the Chevron station, an unleaded gallon will set drivers back $ 6.49.

Expected car travel fell from 92.1% in 2021 to 88.9% this year, a possible indicator that gas prices might be influencing travelers’ transportation choices, according to AAA.

Spokesperson Andrew Gross said the average cost of gasoline is $ 1.05 more than it was on Feb. 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

“That sent shock waves through the oil market that have kept oil costs elevated. Domestically, meanwhile, seasonal gas demand is rising as more drivers hit the road, despite the pain they face paying at the pump, ”he said.

Marin residents said the reasons for the price surge are manifold, including ongoing supply chain issues magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Uncertainty is still governing the global markets and high gas and oil prices are a byproduct of that. But many called out the issue as simply corporate greed.

“The gas and oil companies, they get these bonuses. They do whatever they can do to maintain that, ”Rawling said after he parked in front of San Rafael City Hall and headed out on foot. “This is America. How did we make that turn in the road? ”

Some said the increased prices have limited their daily driving, a habit they expect to maintain over the holiday weekend.

Soo-Ah Landa of San Anselmo said her family owns three vehicles, an all-electric, a hybrid and a gas-fueled car. The family prioritizes the electric and hybrid for most trips, she said, but her son usually drives the gas car.

“Gas prices are definitely driving our decisions for what we are driving. He was stunned that it cost $ 100 to fill up, ”Landa said as she sat with a friend, Yoko Kasai of San Rafael, outside of Cafe Del Sol on Tuesday.

Kasai, who drives an electric vehicle, said she was recently with a real estate client from North Carolina who remarked on how much higher the price of gas is here.

“California is so appealing except for the costs and the gas prices,” Kasai said.

Dawn Boyll, 40, comes to San Rafael from Vacaville a few times a month for work.

“I do not drive down often because I work from home often,” said Boyll, who grew up in Marin.

She and her husband will not be returning to Marin for the holiday weekend, she said, opting to stay home instead. In June, they have a planned trip to Lake Tahoe. They’ve already decided – they’re taking the Tesla.

Tourists at Vista Point take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito on Monday, May 23, 2022. (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)
Tourists at Vista Point take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito on Monday, May 23, 2022. (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

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