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Transportation Energy Prices

Transportation Energy Prices

Transportation fuel prices (in chained 1996 dollars1) experienced short-term fluctuations between 1992 and 2002 (figure 114). The average price of motor fuel (all types of gasoline) decreased 15 percent in 1998, to $1.08 per gallon from $1.27 per gallon in 1997. Two years later, transportation fuel prices rebounded to the highest levels in more than a decade. Motor fuel prices jumped 25 percent, to $1.46 per gallon in 2000. Other fuels, such as aviation fuels and diesel used by railroads, underwent similar price fluctuations. Fuel prices decreased slightly during 2001 and 2002, so that most transportation fuels cost approximately the same amount in 2002 as in 1992. Aviation gasoline—used primarily in general aviation planes—was one exception, remaining 6 percent more expensive in 2002 than in 1992.

Transportation fuel prices are correlated with the world price of crude oil, because crude oil represents a large percentage of the final price of transportation fuel. This correlation can be seen in the price trends from 1992 to 2002 for crude oil and various transportation fuels. Crude oil prices increased 9 percent, while all other types of transportation fuel (except aviation gasoline) increased 2 percent or less [1].

While prices of transportation fuels fluctuate over time, per capita vehicle-miles traveled (vmt) for all modes of transportation have increased in almost every year. For instance, between 1991 and 2001, per capita highway vmt rose about 1 percent annually, while that of large air carriers grew 3 percent (figure 115 and figure 116).

Transportation fuel prices can affect overall consumer transportation prices. As measured by the Consumer Price Index, between 1991 and 2001, motor fuel prices and transportation prices increased at the same average annual rate (2 percent). This inflation rate for transportation was lower than average annual inflation for all goods and services (3 percent) [2]. In fact, transportation-related consumer prices increased less than all other major spending categories except apparel, which decreased less than 1 percent from 1991 to 2001.


1. U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review Washington, DC: August 2002 and June 2003).

2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index, available at http://www.bls.gov, as of June 2003.

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 1996 dollars, unless otherwise specified. Current dollar amounts (which are available in appendix B of this report) were adjusted to eliminate the effects of inflation over time.

Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2017