I’ll be home for Christmas (if there’s not too much traffic)

Bianca Taylor Headshot

Sometimes traveling during the holidays can seem like a test of Murphy’s Law (except with less physics and more traffic).

But the holiday season is also a time to celebrate how important public transportation is in our every-day lives. Whether you take BART to the airport, a scenic Amtrak train ride down the coast, or carpool with cousins to visit grandma’s house, sharing the ride with others is an excellent way to ease a long trip, wherever the road/tracks take you.

From saving money on gas to sparing our air from harmful pollution caused by car traffic, not having to rely on a car is the gift that keeps on giving. That’s why we’re committed to connecting all Californians to opportunities, places, and each other by bringing great transportation choices to communities throughout the state.

For most of us, though, holiday travel means a well-timed combination of planes, trains, and automobiles (oh my!). Using several different types of transit to get to one place, or multi-modal transit, is growing in popularity, especially among Millenials who are driving less. I talked with a few TransFormers to hear tales of their multi-modal holiday travel plans: where they go, why, and how they get there.  

Geoffrey Johnson – Bainbridge Island, WA 

“It’s quite the journey to get from my home in Oakland to my wife’s parents’ home in Washington for the holidays. Since they live on Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound, it takes us a plane trip from Oakland to Seattle, a taxi ride from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to the ferry building, a ferry ride to the island, and then loading everything back into a taxi to get to my in-laws house. Coordinating all these different modes of transportation is hard- picture us (my wife, young son and me) walking across a busy street with all our luggage and car seats to catch a taxi to the ferry on time. If you miss the ferry, there’s a wait. And let’s not forget about airport security’s need to wake a sleeping baby when going through the metal detectors!”

Jenn Lavelle –Scranton, PA

“My hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania (yes, like The Office) has its own airport with two whole runways, but that doesn’t mean getting there from the West Coast is simple. By the end of my travel day, I will have taken one train, two planes, one (short) bus ride, and driven for two hours- and consumed 2-3 cups of coffee.

My journey typically starts at 4:38 a.m. on the first BART from MacArthur station to SFO so I can catch my 7:15 a.m. flight to Phoenix- I almost always end up flying through Phoenix, Chicago, or Charlotte during the holidays since direct flights are usually more expensive around that time. My layover is usually about 2 hours, the perfect amount of time to get coffee, lunch to eat on my next flight, and either do some work, read, or watch a TV show on my laptop. By 4:41 p.m., 9 hours after my journey began on BART, I land in Philadelphia and walk to the rental car bus platform and head to Enterprise to pick up my rental car.

This is always my favorite part of the journey: the drive from Philadelphia to Scranton on “the Turnpike.” I went to college outside of Philadelphia, so the drive is second nature to me. I get my fix of the classic Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, dial the radio to one of my old favorites- I even get my college radio station for a few miles- and cruise north, full of nostalgia.”

Jessica Cruz – Los Angeles, CA 

“I am traveling to Los Angeles for the holidays; specifically to Cudahy (in southeast LA). I will be carpooling with a friend who is also traveling to see friends and family, and her dog Marley. 

The drive to Los Angeles from Oakland on a normal weekend takes about 6 hours, but over the holidays it can run anywhere from 7 to 9 hours, not including breaks or stopping for gas. Good company and good music are essential in making such a long drive fun. As someone who commutes via public transit or bike to work everyday, driving would not be my first choice. Unfortunately where my parents live is not very transit accessible, making a car necessary. Also, traveling with a big dog via any other modes is difficult and expensive.

I often see many other cars making the trip down to LA with only one person in the car…I wish there was a safe and easy way for more people to carpool down to Los Angeles.”

David Beezer – Vietnam

“For my winter break, I’ll be traveling with my family to Vietnam for a 14-day cycling trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. My multi-modal trip starts with a BART ride to the Oakland Airport, and a flight to Seattle (where my parents live). It will take 2 flights from Seattle to land in Ho Chi Minh City (with a layover in Taipei, Taiwan). Then we’ll be riding our bikes 10-60 miles each day from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. I’m EXCITED to eat pho every day for breakfast and bicycle along the coast through Hai Van Pass!”


However you spend the holidays, we hope you get there safely!


About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.