850k DC-area residents expected to travel for Labor Day

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AAA: Labor Day weekend travel to hold steady.

The post-recession travel boom will put more cars on the road than any time since 2008 as an estimated 35.5 million people set out for somewhere more than 50 miles from their home, according to the annual AAA survey for the weekend.

The auto group estimates that 87 percent of area travelers will get where they’re going by car; seven percent are expected to travel by air and five percent by other modes of transportation, including bus and rail.With the extended Labor Day weekend falling a week later than typical this year, area residents can expect one of the busiest travel weekends of the year as locals take to the rails, roads and skies to celebrate the unofficial end of summer.Despite some of the lowest gasoline prices seen in years, travel over the upcoming Labor Day holiday is expected to increase only slightly across the U.S. AAA projects that more than 850,000 of the travelers will depart from the Washington region, with most going by car, 7 percent flying and 5 percent going by bus or rail. Traditionally when Labor Day falls later in the calendar, as it does this year, people who have plunged back into work and school are less likely to travel, but more plan to get away this year than last.

The holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September, and it arrives a little later than usual this month, which tends to dampen enthusiasm for travel. “It’s the latest that Labor Day can arrive. … Then you have fewer people traveling because the kids are already in school,” says John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Gas prices are trending downward. They’re below the $2.50 mark in our area and that’s the big incentive for people to travel this holiday weekend … We’re paying about 80 cents less than we were at this time last year,” says Townsend.

Townsend II of AAA Mid-Atlantic said the survey found that many people plan to stay home to avoid traffic and save cash. “Many would rather spend the holiday at cookouts, relaxing or simply at home to avoid heavy holiday traffic congestion or additional spending, especially if they have already taken a vacation this summer,” Townsend said. Washington started collecting an additional gasoline tax of 7 cents a gallon on Aug. 1 to pay for road construction, including completion of the North Spokane Corridor. The survey, covering residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and D.C., finds that while about 33 percent still used printed maps, more than 55 percent say they use GPS.

While gas prices in New York remain among the highest in the nation, they are still down to an average of $2.64, more than a dollar less than last year’s $3.70 average. The lowest prices in the country can be found in South Carolina, with an average price of $2.01 per gallon, with the most expensive in California, which has a per gallon average of $3.35, according to AAA. “Cheap gas, strong new vehicle sales and an improved household economy continue to motivate travelers to take a trip,” AAA New York spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr. stated. Each year, following the busy summer driving season, refineries begin to process a winter blend of gasoline, as opposed to the more expensive, more eco-friendly summer blend. Prices typically rise in March when the transition toward the summer blend begins. “(The lower prices) are a trend, we’ve switched blends and overseas, the news isn’t as dire as it has been,” Sinclair said. “There’s many different reasons for the shift, some are cyclical, some are typical and others are based on the markets.”

Recent changes to the Idaho Transportation Department’s 511 Idaho Traveler Services website are meant to enhance a user’s experience when the popular website is accessed for current highway and travel information. The new app also can be downloaded through the iPhone and Android app stores. • A new event-location system allows 511 users of both the website and smartphone app to zoom in for a better-quality map view that closely follows every twist and turn along all Idaho highways to within a few feet. • A complete redesign of the full-feature, high-bandwidth version of the 511 website emphasizes ease of use and navigation while retaining the popular features and functionality of the older full-feature website. The site continues to support personalized 511 accounts and allows users to save a favorite route and get live notification of travel issues along the saved route using text messages or email.

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