Traffic to clog holiday travel

Whether getting away by airplane or automobile this holiday weekend, projected travel numbers for Memorial Day show that slightly more people than last year will be making getaways for the summer kickoff.

San Francisco International Airport expects more than 115,000 passengers on Friday alone, with an estimated half million passengers expected today through Tuesday, according to airport projections.

Airport spokesman Mike McCarron, who said all airlines are expecting planes to be more than 90 percent full all weekend, estimates these figures are slightly less than a one percent increase from the same period in 2006. While the airport hasn’t reached the record-high passenger levels seen in 2000, airline officials see the increase as a welcome sign of improvement.

United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski, representing SFO’s largest carrier, said that planes nationwide would be approximately 90 percent full, which is normal for this holiday weekend.

“Travel to San Francisco continues to be strong,” Urbanski said, urging passengers to check their flight status and check in online before heading to the airport.

Despite record-high gas prices, freeways are expected to be fairly busy as well, American Automobile Association spokesman Sean Comey said. The latest AAA travel survey found that about five million Californians are expected to drive 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, representing a 1.6 percent increase over last year.

Some 4.1 million Californians total are expected to take to the roads and highways, representing a 1.7 percent increase from last year’s forecast.

Most travelers surveyed do appear to be taking heed of the high gas prices, particularly as hotel rates climb 13 percent over last year. Comey said AAA estimates that while more people are driving and flying to their destinations, travelers will likely opt for cheaper hotels and meals over the weekend.

Road-trippers should remember that the California Highway Patrol will be out in full force for the weekend, piloting a sobriety checkpoint on Sunday in unincorporated San Mateo County near Redwood City.

“Even with gas prices being what they are, we’re not seeing a lot of people pulling the plug on their vacation plans,” Comey said.

BART holiday schedule

Carnaval

The Carnaval Street Festival starts at 9:30 a.m. along Harrison Street between 16th and 23rd streets in San Francisco. Carnaval-goers should take BART to one of the two Mission Street stations. Flash passes, which allow riders to flash a card to a station agent for entry, will be available for this event.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants face the Colorado Rockies at 6:05 p.m. Saturday and again at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Those heading to AT&T Park can disembark at the Embarcadero Station and transfer to a Muni train, which will travel right by the stadium. Roundtrip Muni adult fare is $2.50. Flash passes will also be available for this event.

Memorial Day and Oakland A’s

The A’s take on the Texas Rangers at 7:05 p.m. Monday. BART will operate on a Sunday schedule, but will be operating longer trains for those heading to McAfee Coliseum.

tramroop@examiner.com


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