Travel volume and gas prices soar for Fourth of July weekend

Travel experts predict travel volume for the Fourth of July holiday weekend will be closer to pre-pandemic levels as California's latest gas tax hike goes into effect.

The Automobile Club of Southern California projects more than 3.3 million Southern California residents will take trips over the holiday weekend, which is a 46% increase from 2020.

Of the travelers, 86% are expected to drive to their destinations and 13% are expected to fly.

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FOX 11 spoke with travelers at the Hollywood Burbank Airport.

"I'm excited. I can't wait. I've got a few things I want to do in the city," said Renee Ringo.

Ringo flew in from Las Vegas, which is one of the top destinations for travelers this holiday weekend. 

"The weather's great [in Los Angeles] and I'm glad to be here because it's really hot in Vegas right now. It was like 102 degrees when I left home today," said Ringo.

Chris Cheng was traveling to New York, his hometown. 

"I'm looking forward to a vacation because I haven't had the opportunity for a while. Everyone's affected by the pandemic so the restrictions are up and everyone's gonna leave. You can't really control people," said Cheng.

The top five destinations according to AAA are Las Vegas, San Diego, Zion/Bryce Canyon National Parks, Grand Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park.

Damon Pouya and his friend, Jay Saadat, are heading to Yosemite. 

"I'm excited to be able to finally move around. It's going to be a long drive. I'm a little worried about the traffic right now but other than that, it'll be really nice," said Pouya.

The bump in travel aligns with California's gas tax hike. Average gas prices in California are $4 a gallon, but in some places, they are up to $6.

As of Thursday, July 1, the next installment of a tax package approved by the Legislature in 2017 kicked in. Senate Bill 1, or SB 1, which was approved in 2017, provided for gasoline tax hikes of 12 cents per gallon in 2017, 5.6 cents in 2019 and on July 1, 3.2 cents a gallon. 

The 3.2 cents on top of the rest of the state gas taxes amount to about 51 additional cents per gallon.