Since the skies aren’t as friendly these days, Amtrak is betting more people will take the train to grandmother’s house this Thanksgiving it has added 75,000 more seats in anticipation of a 15 percent increase in ridership.
Those who choose to drive when holiday travel begins over the next few days should keep an eye on their speedometers. Police patrols will be increased, say law enforcement officials around the region.
“We’re really expecting the travel to be heavy on Tuesday and Wednesday and quiet on Thursday and Friday, and then pick up on the weekend,” said Cpl. Rob Moroney, a Maryland State Police spokesman. “Wednesday will be almost like rush hour all day long.”
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic figures, about 549,000 area travelers will be on the go for Thanksgiving, representing a 7 percent dip from last year’s figure of 588,000.
That decrease reflects those who will stay close to home rather than brave three and four-hour security delays at airports, according to Lon Anderson, a travel club spokesman.
“There is a significant drop in airline travel A lot of people still want to travel, and they’ll be going on the highway,” Mr. Anderson said. “It’s clear that Americans want to travel, and Americans are going to travel.”
He said 86 percent of this year’s Thanksgiving travelers will do so by car, which is up from 81 percent last year.
Also reaping the benefits of nationwide travel is Amtrak, the national railway, which welcomes the 15 percent increase in ticket sales over last year’s figures, according to a spokeswoman Kajal Jhaveri.
Amtrak encourages consumers to purchase tickets in advance, as no tickets will be sold on board, she said.
“Long-distance trains are filling up,” Ms. Jhaveri said. “We are preparing for added capacity throughout the system.”
She said the week with the highest amount of nationwide travel is Nov. 20 through Nov. 26, for which Amtrak will provide 75,000 extra seats.
Amtrak travelers also can expect increased security checks. Travelers must have photo identification to board a train. There will be more police officers in stations and on platforms, as well as near entrances and exits, she said.
“Since September 11 we have increased this activity,” she said.
Cpl. Moroney recommends drivers and car passengers carry a cellular phone and make sure the vehicle is in good working order before leaving on long-distance trips. He also said drinks and snacks can work wonders to placate bored children.
He cautions motorists to drive safely, because troopers will be looking out for speeding, aggressive drivers and drunken drivers.
“There will be plenty of troopers,” Cpl. Moroney said. “We are going to be prepared.”