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HesperiaStar.com
  • HITTING THE ROAD

    Travel experts predict spike in Labor Day weekend highway travel compared to last year

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  • VICTORVILLE — The Automobile Club of Southern California is predicting that more than 2.48 million Southland residents are expected to take trips this Labor Day weekend, a 1.6 percent increase over last year’s holiday.
    Nearly 80 percent of those travelers, or 1.98 million, are expected to drive to their destinations, a 1.9 percent increase from last year.
    “As the summer ends, we are entering the ‘shoulder’ travel season and even though Labor Day is a three-day weekend, it can often be a more affordable travel holiday than other peak times such as Christmas and July Fourth,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services, in a news release.
    Air travelers are expected to increase by less than 1 percent, to 314,000 locally. And those going by bus, train, cruise ship or other means are projected to hold steady at 189,000.
    According to AAA, the top destinations for Californians on Labor Day include San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Central Coast and the Grand Canyon.
    “We don’t have our projections for this weekend, but it should be similar to last year,” Jeremy Handel, spokesman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told the Daily Press. “We had 300,000 people in over the weekend, with many coming from (the High Desert) and all over Southern California.”
    Handel said many travelers see Labor Day as their last opportunity to celebrate summer.
    Terri Walbye, general manager of RangeRV in Victorville, said the heavy traffic in the service department is a true sign of a huge Labor Day weekend.
    “We always have people coming in to make sure their vehicles are in tip-top shape for the weekend,” said Walbye, who’s been with RangeRV for 20 years. “Apart from a bad summer when gas prices were high, we’ve had a great year so far.”
    Walbye said business has dramatically turned since October 2007 when the company faced the beginning of almost seven years of economic famine.
    Madeline Sloan, 37, of Victorville, said lower gas prices have her family thinking about a one-day road trip to San Diego and Legoland this weekend.
    “We usually don’t like to travel during any holiday, but gas prices are down and we got a surprise check in the mail,” said Sloan, a small business owner and mother of two. “If we brown-bag it and don’t stay at an expensive hotel, we can make the beach trip work.”
    With San Bernardino County gas prices averaging $3.79 per gallon, the price is about 2 cents per gallon lower than the 2013 figure. The decrease comes after a winter price drop to $3.54 per gallon and a spring increase where the average price spiked to $4.30 per gallon.
    The Automobile Association of America and the Information Handling Services group have also predicted a nationwide increase in travelers this Labor Day weekend.
    AAA and the IHS said they believe that some 34.7 million travelers will journey at least 50 miles from home from Thursday through Sunday.
    If the AAA and IHS holiday prediction is correct, it will be the fifth consecutive Labor Day weekend with an increase, up from 31.3 million travelers in 2009.
    This potential increase represents an a 1.3 percent upswing relative to the 34.3 million during the same holiday period in 2013.
    The report said the mode of transportation will consist of 85.7 percent by auto, 7.6 percent by air and the remainder designated as “other.”
    Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter@DP_ReneDeLaCruz.
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