Travelers react to Memorial Day weekend traffic, toll revenue

[anvplayer video=”5178836″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Memorial Day weekend is finally here, and on this unofficial start of summer millions of people are already flying or hitting the road to get to their holiday destinations.

News10NBC talked to a few travelers who are getting away for the long weekend. According to AAA, more than 42 million people will travel 50 miles or more this weekend. That’s 2.7 million more people than who traveled last year.

“So far it’s been pretty easy,” said Dave Lyons of Sarasota, Florida, while taking a break from driving. “A couple of congested spots in Ohio.”

It’s one of the biggest travel days of the year and people are wasting no time getting out of town for the holiday. Traveling on the Thruway through the Rochester area has been relatively smooth for thousands of drivers. News10NBC caught up with some at the Scottsville rest stop as they took a break from the road. Katie Pilipenko and her family are traveling from Cleveland to Quebec.

“We’re kind of a road trip family,” said Pilipenko. “I’ve never been on a plane my entire life. We’ve just always done road trips. It’s kind of like a tradition for us.”

Dan and Joanne Sundy left their home in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and are headed for Lake George. So far, their trip is going fine.

“A little bit busy, but it’s not bad,” said Joanne. “We left early this morning and we’re traveling quite easy.”

Many drivers log several hours on the road as they travel. Dave Lyons started his trip in Sarasota, Florida, with a stop in Nashville, and ending his journey in Massachusetts.

“It will be great when it’s done,” said Lyons. “We’ll get there tomorrow.”

Things also ran smoothly at the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. Short lines at the TSA checkout meant passengers could get to their boarding gate a lot quicker.

Jennifer Apel from Greece is flying to San Francisco. She added, “In fact, that’s why I’m here so early because you just really don’t know so I wanted to be prepared, make sure I was here early enough just in case.”

Webster resident Donna Dehond was on her way to Tampa. She said, “I think it’s great. I mean people are out there traveling, and they should do that. You know it’s a gorgeous day. Why not fly out?”

[anvplayer video=”5178838″ station=”998131″]

News10NBC looked at the number of travelers who’ve been using the state Thruway to get to their destination. News10NBC tried to get numbers stretching back to the start of the pandemic, but what we do have show a healthy increase in travel on the state Thruway.

AAA says more than 42 million people will travel this Memorial Day weekend, and most of them will drive. News10NBC looked at numbers provided by the state’s Thruway Authority for the month of May going back to 2021. The first chart shows the number of passenger cars traveling on the Thruway from western New York to the Massachusetts border. In May 2021, 16,611,763 made the trip. In May 2022, that number jumped to 17,263,738, an increase of almost 4 percent.

When it came to trips using E-Z Pass, 13,245,829 trips were recorded in May 2021. The following May, the Thruway says 14,172,599 passenger cars went through the system. Again, another increase, this time 7 percent.

When it came to toll revenue collected by the Thruway Authority the numbers break down this way. In May 2021, $15,687,620 was collected. The following May more cars on the road increased the revenue by over 6 percent, totaling $16,654,250. Some out-of-town drivers News10NBC spoke with believe the tolls are fair.

“I think it’s necessary to keep the roads in good condition so yeah I don’t find them very expensive,” said Sundy. 

Click here for a closer look at the state Thruway Authority’s numbers.