Here’s the outlook for Bay Area roads, airports


Memorial Day weekend in the Bay Area could be a preview of what travel experts believe will be the busiest summer travel seasons since the start of the pandemic — locally, in California and throughout the U.S.

“This is going to be one of the first Memorial Day weekends that we’re completely open” since before 2020, said Peter Gamez, CEO of the nonprofit tourism organization Visit Oakland — “as far as more businesses feeling open (and) people feeling comfortable to travel.”

The outlook for travel on Memorial Day weekend — widely viewed as the kickoff to the summer season — appears to be on track to return to pre-pandemic levels in the United States, according to the AAA.

The auto and travel association predicted that nationwide air travel will increase by 25% compared with last year, the second-largest increase since 2010. Traveling by car was also forecast to climb by 4.6% from last year, the AAA said.

Within California, about 5 million people are expected to travel across the state — an 11% increase from last year, the AAA said. Of those, about 4 million were predicted to hit the road to get to their destination.

About 524,000 people were expected to travel by plane and approximately 270,000 may take other modes of transportation, such as cruise ships, trains or buses, the AAA said.

“Regardless of which mode they choose, travelers should prepare for a busy holiday weekend,” AAA officials said.

On the roads

Bay Area drivers expected to see traffic congestion starting Thursday and were urged to leave early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid heavy traffic, AAA said.

Drivers head into San Francisco on the Bay Bridge as seen from Treasure Island on a Sunday in July 2021.

Drivers head into San Francisco on the Bay Bridge as seen from Treasure Island on a Sunday in July 2021.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle 2021

In fact, Thursday between 5:45 and 7:45 p.m. on Interstate 80 from Gilman Street in Berkeley to the Civic Center in San Francisco was predicted to be one of the worst times to travel in the entire country, according to data from the Inrix travel information company.

California Highway Patrol officials said they were also expecting traffic to “dramatically” increase this weekend. A “maximum enforcement period” between 6 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Monday will be in place, during which officers will patrol the roads for seat belt violations, reckless drivers, speeding, and motorists suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

During Memorial Day weekend last year, CHP officials said about 63% of people in cars who were killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

“With an expectation of increased traffic during the extended weekend due to various events in San Francisco and throughout the greater Bay Area, we ask that motorists prepare themselves appropriately by packing some extra snacks, water, and a lot of patience,” CHP Officer Mark Andrews said in a statement.

Gas prices and inflation

This holiday likely will be harder on travelers’ wallets than in recent years. As inflation continues to rise, Americans are paying more money for things like food, air fare, gas and hotels. Hotel prices have climbed about 42% compared with last year, with the average lowest nightly price ranging between $199 and $257, AAA said.

Airfare has gone up 6% in the past year, according to AAA. The association predicted that the most expensive day to travel by plane this weekend will be Saturday, with Monday the cheapest.

Car rental prices, however, are down by 16% from last year, when prices soared during pandemic reopenings as rental companies struggled to meet demand because they had sold off vehicles as a cost-saving measure. The average lowest rate this year is $100 per day, the AAA said.

Meanwhile, gas prices in the Bay Area continue to surpass the $6 mark — and though travelers may not like it, experts don’t expect those record prices to deter holiday road trips.

“Nearly $6.30 a gallon is very tough to stomach,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, adding that prices will likely not budge this weekend.

“But I do believe that still a majority of Californians will probably take to the roads over the weekend,” he said.

The national average price per gallon as of Thursday morning was $4.60, according to AAA. Meanwhile, drivers in California are paying an average of $6, with San Francisco being one of the priciest cities in the country, said De Haan.

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.