NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – More trains and buses will be running across the Tri-State area Friday to help commuters get a head start on the Labor Day weekend.
New Jersey Transit will provide extra trains on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley, Morris & Essex and Port Jervis lines starting around 1 p.m. Friday.
Extra buses will leave the Port Authority Bus Terminals on more than a dozen routes starting around noon.
The Long Island Railroad and Metro-North will also provide additional early afternoon service from Manhattan on Friday.
On Labor Day on Monday, Metro-North will operate on a Sunday schedule and the Long Island Railroad will operate on a Sunday and holiday schedule.
To keep traffic moving, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it will suspend routine maintenance at its seven bridges and two tunnels beginning 1 p.m. Friday through the end of the Tuesday morning rush hour.
AAA Predicts Travel Increase
More Americans are expected to hit the road over the Labor Day holiday compared with any year since the 2008 financial crisis, according to AAA.
Forty-five million Americans were on the road for the end of summer holiday back in 2008.
“Then the recession hit and just one year later that number dropped to one million,” Robert Sinclair, of AAA New York, said.
This year, 34.1 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the long weekend — 29 million by car, CBS 2′s Amy Dardashtian reported.
One reason for the uptick in travel is a drop in prices at the gas pump.
The average price of gasoline is nearly 3 percent lower this year compared to the same time in 2012. The average price per gallon is $3.47 in New Jersey, $3.84 in New York and $3.92 in Connecticut.
“I think where we’re at right now is pretty fair,” Frank Steele, of Malba Queens, told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez. “I’m happy with it.”
AAA is reporting the average gas price in New Jersey is $3.47 a gallon, in New York, $3.84 and in Connecticut $3.92. The national average is $3.56, down about 24 cents from last year.
This week, oil prices hit a two-year high and experts are worried that any U.S. military strikes in Syria could disrupt oil production in the Middle East, but increased production in the U.S. and Canada is helping stabilize gas prices.
“We are producing about 2 million barrels a day more crude than we were during the first Arab spring, so we are much less susceptible to events happening in the Middle East and South Africa,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy.com.
Analysts also attribute this post-recession boom in travel to a healthier housing market.
“Household net worth is up about 8 percent compared to last year because of the growth of stock market and because of house evaluations going up,” Sinclair said. “That gives people confidence to go out and hit the road.”
Jersey Shore Beach Revenue Down
The Jersey shore may prove stronger than the storm, but right now its limping to the summer’s finish.
Some shore towns are reporting beach badge sales are lagging from last year. They blame rainy weather early in the summer season and a lack of rentals caused by superstorm Sandy.
“The volume was definitely off, it’s been pretty thin during the week. Weekends are fairly crowded,” Donna, a Brick resident, said.
“Not as many people this year, I thought there would be as many people as there was years before, but evidently not,” David Gray, of Point Pleasant said.
“August has definitely been strongest — it typically is,” said Julie Lobrutto from the Jolly Roger Motel on Long Beach Island told WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell. “But it’s still off. June was a total wipeout.”
But not everyone has felt the smaller crowds at the cash register.
“This year, you figure I’m probably going to be off 20 or 30 percent, and to be up 15 percent, it’s unbelievable,” one Long Beach Island business owner said.
AAA Mid-Atlantic said 53 percent of holiday travelers from New Jersey are expected to head to the shore, but even with a successful Labor Day weekend, many beach towns in Monmouth and Ocean counties will still end up in the red, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.
Despite the disappointing season, many residents said the pulse is returning to the Jersey Shore and remain optimistic.
Considering the devastation and destruction after Sandy, some residents said the 2013 summer season wasn’t a bad start.
“With a little bit of luck with Mother Nature, I think that you’ll see the crowds back to where they were,” a Pleasant Point man said.
“It’s actually very unbelievable that the boardwalk is still standing and people are out here having a good time, families are out here on the boardwalks,” one man said.
“I think we did better than expected as far as business, residents are still trying to get back, but on the whole I think we all did pretty well after Sandy,” Point Pleasant resident Ray DeLuca said.
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