Massive holiday exodus forecast from D.C. area

(Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

With Congress already fleeing the city, the annual holiday exodus from the Washington area will grow to include more than 40 percent of the populace, according to survey data out Thursday from the AAA. Some of those folks will be going on lovely trips (to someplace warm, perhaps, or someplace more quaintly snowy and cold), but lots more will be traveling to visit friends or family.

The AAA says 2,354,000 people in the Washington area say they plan to go 50 miles or more from home for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. Now that’s an increase of 0.1 percent from last year,  the fifth consecutive year of such increases.

“A number of Washingtonians sat out three of the first four holiday travel periods of the year as an upshot of all the political drama in the nation’s capital and the economic stress it engendered. But they will not be denied nor deny themselves or their families during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel period,” said John B. Townsend II of  AAA.

Ninety-one percent of local travelers — 2,131,700 of them — are projected to travel on the roadways, a slight bump of  0.3 percent over a year ago. Travel at the big three area airports is expected to decline slightly to 129,300 travelers. That’s down from the 130,400 local holiday air passengers originating in this area last year. Train and bus travel Is down almost 2 percent this year, with 93,000 Washington area residents planning to use those modes,  AAA forecast.

Nationally, 94.5 million people are projected to make trips 50 miles or more from home between Christmas’s eve and New Year’s Day, AAA is projecting. This is an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million travelers during the same period a year ago and the fifth year in a row for an ever-increasing number of travelers the dual year-end holidays.

Ninety-one percent of travelers or 85.8 million are expected to travel by automobile; 5.53 million will fly; and 3.13 million will travel by rail or bus and even by sea via cruise ship.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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