Students heading home for Thanksgiving this week may find themselves moving slower than the time it takes to cook a turkey, as local officials have warned travelers to expect increased enforcement on the roads and longer lines at Amtrak stations and at airports.
According to California Highway Patrol Officer Christine Dabbs, CHP will be implementing a period of maximum enforcement on California’s roads from Wednesday until Sunday, deploying extra officers on many state highways and freeways throughout the state to help control traffic congestion. In addition, Santa Barbara Airport Spokeswoman Terri Gibson said the airport will be upping its security measures during the week of Thanksgiving – as airport officials are expecting approximately 3,000 arriving and departing passengers to pass through the facility each day during the holiday period.
“The airport has airport patrol, and we will certainly have more airport patrol officers on duty because of the number of people,” Gibson said. “And I’m sure the Transportation Security Administration will have people on as well to make sure the lines go quickly, or as quickly as possible.”
Besides imposing additional security measures, Gibson said airport officials are anticipating a substantial spike in the number of travelers requiring parking at the airport during the week of Thanksgiving.
To prepare for this increase in demand, Gibson said the airport will open an additional long-term parking lot at 4 a.m. today at 160 Frederic Lopez Road in Goleta. Free shuttles will be available at the lot – which is normally reserved for special overflow parking when the airport’s other lots have reached capacity – to transport passengers to the main airport structure.
Amtrak is also expecting an increase in the number of rail travelers during the week, according to a press release from the company.
In anticipation of the Thanksgiving crowds, extra cars will be added to some trains on the Amtrak San Joaquin route between Bakersfield, Sacramento and Oakland. Extra cars will also be added to the Pacific Surfliner route, which runs from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. According to the press release, these trains – which normally have unreserved seating for ticket-holders – will require advance reservations for all passengers from today until Nov. 27.
Dabbs said travelers who choose to drive to their holiday destinations should also be aware of increased security measures on the roads, similar to those being implemented at airports and on railways.
Dabbs said in order to keep drivers and passengers safe during the holiday, the CHP will be deploying substantially more patrol cars on state highways and freeways. While Dabbs said she did not know precisely how many more officers will be present on the roads, she said the officers will be specifically monitoring vehicles for any signs of unsafe driving. As a result, Dabbs said, the CHP is anticipating an increase in citations for things like speeding and driving under the influence during the weekend.
“‘[The officers will be looking for] your basic speeding, driving under the influence, just reckless driving and unsafe driving, like following too closely,” Dabbs said. “Basically, there’s so many people on the road and we just want to make sure that people are safe and get to their destinations as safely as possible.”
Dabbs said students planning to travel out of the Santa Barbara area during the weekend can best prepare for the holiday by allowing themselves plenty of time to reach their destination.
“There’s going to be a lot more traffic because you have all the holiday travelers – and because there’s a lot more people on the road, the roads are going to be pretty congested,” Dabbs said. “So give yourself more time if you’re flying or driving … especially if you’re going up north or down south. Just slow down; don’t be in such a hurry.”
Gibson said Dabbs’ advice is also applicable to those travelers planning to fly, rather than drive, to their destination throughout the holiday week. She said, in addition to planning ahead before leaving for the airport, passengers can ease the stress associated with airplane travel by having someone drop them off at the airport instead of driving to the facility themselves.
“Since all the flights are either completely booked or close to being fully booked, I would ask people to get there two hours early,” Gibson said. “I know that seems excessive, but at least that takes the stress out of traveling, and so many times people in Santa Barbara wait until the last 20 minutes to get there and then they just barely squeeze through. The easiest way to access the airport is to be dropped off at the curb … that makes it a little easier and gives everyone time to get organized.”
Dolly Smith, Program and Committee Coordinator for UCSB’s Transportation Alternatives Program, said students can take the stress out of traveling by opting for a less conventional form of transportation.
Smith said Associated Students offers an online bulletin board at www.as.ucsb.edu/rides to help students coordinate carpools for holiday travel.
Smith also said TAP sometimes has standby rider tickets available for its vanpool – which can transport passengers from campus to locations like Santa Maria, Lompoc, Ventura, Camarillo, Carpinteria and Santa Ynez. More information about the vanpools is available at www.tps.ucsb.edu/vanpool_tap1.htm.
Smith said carpools and train travel are better transportation methods for students than driving to their destinations, and she encourages students to look into these options before leaving town for the holiday.
“I would say carpooling is your best option, because it’s the most flexible way that you can also reduce cars on the road,” Smith said. “Or, you could take the train, actually. One of my friends is going to take the train home, and it takes about the same amount of time – considering traffic – and she’s able to do more work because she won’t be driving.”