Whether you are headed to a Thanksgiving feast or to the mall for Black Friday shopping, you will have lots of company. The best advice is to leave now and avoid the crush.
With more than 48.7 million Americans planning trips of more than 50 miles or more during the holiday period Wednesday through Sunday, the roads, rails and the skies will be the busiest since 2007, AAA says. And that means you'll need extra time to get from Point A to Point B.
"With a steady economy and stable fuel prices, on top of a record miles-driven on American roads, urban-area drivers can expect to spend extra time sitting in traffic in this year," says Bob Pishue with the Seattle-based traffic tracking company INRIX.
Locally, the worst time to be on the roads will be Wednesday afternoon when travelers will mix with commuters making their way home. To avoid the crush, Google says leave before 6 a.m. Wednesday and avoid traveling at 3 p.m. when traffic will be at its worst.
Coming home, do it on Friday before 6 a.m. The worst time to trek home will be Saturday around 4 p.m., the company said.
Motorists can check road conditions and traffic volumes at the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 511 traveler information system and phone app. And should weather become an issue, that information is included there, too.
“Our snowplow operators are out there cleaning off the roads and trying to make it a safe holiday for everyone,” said Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “Please check on the road conditions before you leave and be safe on the roadways as we begin the holiday season.”
For Black Friday shoppers, Pishue says drivers heading to the Mall of America could expect huge delays and to avoid midday and early afternoon when travel times could be more than double their normal length Those heading to MSP can expect trips to take 20 minute longer than normal this weekend, he said.
Friday is still a work day for others. But with so many people off for the long holiday weekend, local transit agencies will cut back on service. Metro Transit, buses and trains will operate on a holiday schedule on Thursday and follow a Saturday schedule on Friday, although some routes will have extra buses to help with the morning and evening commutes. Metro Transit will offer free rides on the Red Line from 4 p.m. Thursday through 11 p.m. Friday.
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority buses will not run on Thursday and local routes 440, 444 and 445 will follow Saturday schedules. Express trips to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul will run on Friday with a reduced schedule.
Maple Grove Transit will run route 781 only on Friday. Trips will leave from the Maple Grove Transit Center between 5:51 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Return trips from downtown Minneapolis will run between 12:16 p.m. and 6:36 p.m. There will be no bus service on Thursday.
Southwest Transit will run a limited schedule on Friday and offer no service on Thursday.