Millions Hitting The Roads, Skies On Busiest Travel Day Of The Year


trafficIt’s the day before Thanksgiving and that means millions of people are hitting the roads and taking to the skies during the busiest travel day of the year.

According to AAA, about 42.5 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend. That’s a four percent increase from last year.

In the Tri-State area, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says it expects more than 5 million people will be using its bridges, tunnels, trains and airports.

“This may be one of the worst times we’ve seen in a long time,” said traffic expert “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz. “Early returns for motorist surveys conducted by AAA and airport travel show we’re up. We’re up over last year, we’re up over the year before. So we may see record traffic volumes at all the bridges and tunnels leading away from the city.”

In New York City, drivers should expect delays and detours Wednesday in around 81st and 77th streets from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue. That’s where the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons are being inflated.

Starting at 10 a.m., all vehicles will be banned from that area but pedestrians can watch from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m.

If you don’t feel like driving, you could always take mass transit. The Long Island Rail Road is offering extra Thanksgiving weekend service.

In addition, LIRR says trains off-peak fares will be in effect for the entire four-day holiday weekend.

Metro-North will have extra trains leaving Grand Central starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday and plans on operating on a holiday schedule for Thursday.

New Jersey TRANSIT is also offering additional trains from New York Penn Station, Newark Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal starting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Trains will operate on a holiday schedule on Thursday.

Gridlock Sam says anyone riding the rails this holiday weekend should expect packed trains. Ridership on Metro-North is up about one percent this year. The LIRR has also seen a growth of about one percent.

AAA predicts that about 900,000 people expected to travel by train, bus or other form of mass transit this weekend.

More travelers are also expected to take to this skies for the holiday. More than 23 million people will fly to their Thanksgiving destinations.

At our area airports, more than 1.3 million people will travel through Newark Liberty, Kennedy, LaGuardia and Stewart International airports.

At Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, a a couple flying in from Canada say they list baggage fees upfront on ticket prices. So, they were not surprised at their price tag.

“We got a deal on our airline ticket, but then the fees for the bags were $60,” the woman said.

Sen. Robert Menendez says too many times people do not know all the fees they’ll pay until later in the purchase process.

“This is a problem that is getting worse and worse. I remember when everything was included in the ticket price,” said Menendez.

Now, he says there are as many as thirteen common fees tacked on these days.

So, Menendez wants buyers to be able to see a list of fees upfront.

“It means that information must be displayed in a simple way,” he said.

He’s asking the transportation secretary to push for this transparency.

But no matter how you’re planning to get there, Gridlock Sam says the best time to travel is the morning of Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving Day parade, which kicks off around 9 a.m. Thursday, will only put the traffic squeeze on the Upper West Side, Times Square and Midtown.

The real gridlock grind comes in the afternoon and evening on Thanksgiving.

{1010 WINS NY Radio/ Newscenter}