S.F.’s Least Worst Times for Thanksgiving Travel

Usual traffic times need not apply.

(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

The holiday founded on shaky moral grounds that now comes with tense political conversations among family members descends upon us this week — but first, people have to get around.

AAA predicts that 50.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving — a 3.3 percent increase from last year. Of those, 89 percent are planning to travel by road, and congested cities like San Francisco could see travel times three times longer than the optimal trip.

Per AAA’s San Francisco data, traveling on Tuesday or between 4 to 5:45 p.m. is the worst time to get on the road before Thanksgiving. The worst hotspot will be where eastbound Interstate 80 meets Pinole Valley Road in the East Bay.

Google Maps studied Thanksgiving traffic from last year and made an interactive chart that users can test their departure times. If sitting in traffic day after day already eats away too much of your soul, leaving Wednesday at 3 a.m. and heading back home Friday at 4 a.m. will prevent further road rage.

Otherwise, being on the road Wednesday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. is the worst possible combination for Bay Area drivers or passengers.

Google Maps

While AAA says Thanksgiving gas prices are at its highest since 2014, average airfare is at its cheapest since 2013. (Plus, a 12-cent-per-gallon state gas tax took effect Nov. 1 to fund California’s transportation infrastructure.)

Those traveling by air still have to get to the airport, but might need to budget extra time for driving there on top of considering longer security lines. Taking U.S. Highway 101 on Tuesday between 5 to 7 p.m. could set you back another 29 minutes, AAA predicts.

Taking a look at BART’s Thanksgiving week schedule couldn’t hurt but, in any case, safe travels to all.

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