NEW YORK – Travelers were expected to pack the New York metropolitan area's airports, rail lines and roadways over the Memorial Day weekend, contending with crowds and high gas costs in order to mark the traditional start of the summer travel season.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it was ready for the rush.
"Ensuring safe, enjoyable trips for all of our customers during these holiday travel spikes is always a test of our mettle," Executive Director Anthony E. Shorris said in a statement.
More than 1.4 million passengers were expected to pour into the area's three major airports between Friday and Tuesday, according to the Port Authority, which runs LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports.
About 3.4 million vehicles were expected to churn through the Port Authority's four bridges and two tunnels, which link various parts of New York City to New Jersey. Maintenance and construction work was to be suspended on the bridges and tunnels during the holiday weekend.
The Port Authority planned to add extra trains Friday on the PATH lines that link Manhattan and New Jersey. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it would do the same on the Long Island Rail Road, a popular route to the Hamptons and other Long Island beach getaways.
Nationwide, more than 38 million Americans — nearly 2 percent more than last year — are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday weekend, according to AAA.
Some 84 percent planned to drive, in spite of gas prices that reached a record national high when the average nationwide price of self-serve regular gasoline hit $3.18 earlier this week, according to the Lundberg Survey.
A gallon of regular gas averages about $3.30 in New York City and on Long Island, according to AAA. It averages $3.37 in Westchester County, according to the county Department of Consumer Protection.
But if motorists are grumbling, they're not staying home.
"People are still driving, but there are definite concessions being made," said AAA New York spokesman Robert Sinclair. "They're planning to the nth degree how much gas they'll use."
Kevin Gilmartin, for one, is gauging the breaking point.
"A couple more gas hikes, and we'll start taking the train," said Gilmartin, 42, a Westchester County construction worker.