Analysts: Gas could hit $5 a gallon

April 11, 2011 8:22:58 PM PDT
Some local drivers were looking twice at the signs posting gas prices Monday.

Prices have increased nearly 20 cents, and many drivers are wondering how much higher they will go. The summer driving season hasn't even started yet, and prices are well above $4 in the Chicago area.

According to the latest Lundberg Survey, Chicago is number two in the nation for highest gas prices with an average of $4.11. However, some gas stations in the city have even higher prices. One gas station in the city's South Loop area priced regular gas at $4.39 per gallon Monday morning.

In Downers Grove, filling up the truck for another landscaping job really digs into the bottom line. Patrick Campion of Midwest Landscaping says his company is charging a bit more these days due to gas prices. The gas hike comes at a time when business is already slow.

"As hard as it is right now with the gas prices, with business and everything slowing down, we'll see how things go," Campion told ABC7.

Wayne McClain travels a lot to teach Tae Kwon Do and to participate in tournaments. He says the gas prices are forcing him to look at another vehicle.

"It makes me think I have to get rid of this. It will be harder to afford it with all the traveling that I do. I'm going to have to get a compact," said said McClain.

Some drivers have already moved into more gas efficient vehicles. Tim Fritz, sales manager for DGY Motor Sports, says as gas prices go up, so do sales of scooters.

"Once it's over $4, the interest gets really big around here for people to buy scooters," said Fritz.

Gas in Chicago is the second highest in the nation. The top spot on the list goes to San Francisco.

According to AAA, the national average is 3.77. That's up 20 cents in the last three weeks. Nationally, Americans are only 34 cents away from the all-time national average of $4.11, which was set in 2008.

Analysts blame the spike on the unrest in the Mideast along with the transition to summer blend of fuel.

The Wendella Boat Tours and Chicago Water Taxi may also be squeezed by the skyrocketing fuel amounts this summer. But managers say they don't plan on passing the cost along to customers -- as of now.

"It'll affect our business in both negative and positive ways. Negatively, it makes the cost of operating the business higher. Positively, it gets more people to take the train downtown, take public transportation downtown. Then, they use the water taxi," said Craig Wenokur, Wendella Boats, Chicago Water Taxi.

Some cab drivers also say they are struggling, despite a recent fuel charge increase for customers.

Drivers could make some changes to summer travel plans, as a result of the gas prices. It will cost close to $100 to fill up some large vehicles and SUVs.