Holiday travel off to a smooth start in Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

This year Amtrak is trying to make it easier for travelers to get to their destinations.

On Wednesday, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation added 5500 seats to its three rail routes, including 600 to the San Joaquin line which runs through the Valley. The extra seats were filling up fast as families in Fresno rushed to take advantage of the additional space.

"It's almost like Greyhound, leave the driving to us. You get to see the countryside, get to see what's going by, you're not just focused on the road so much," Dan Scheibly of Los Angeles.

Amtrak employees told Action News only three seats were left on the train that rolled through shortly after 7am and at least two others were delayed by about 15 to 20 minutes due to congestion.

Still passengers said they prefer to take the train over hitting the highway with thousands of other drivers.

"We love Amtrak. It's very flexible. The station over there in San Francisco is very easy to take. You don't have to worry about traffic. You can eat on the train, you have Wi-Fi… it's just always fun," said Monica Pruneda of Sanger.

According to an exclusive Action News poll conducted by SurveyUSA, only 15% of people said they planned to travel out of town for Thanksgiving this year.

Of those leaving town, 90% said they'd do it by car, 5% said they'd go by plane and only 2% said they'd board a train.

Those flying may not have much to worry about much in Fresno, but the problems could come with connecting flights at their next stop on account of weather.

No matter what the method of travel, most who are heading out said it's a good idea to allow some extra time for the unexpected.

"It wasn't bad coming out of LA, which we've come up in years past and it's taken us nine hours or more to get from LA to Fresno so we're doing pretty good right now," said a drive heading to Kerman from Redondo Beach.

As for Amtrak, in addition to the extra seats, the company also added 100 buses to its busiest routes. The buses will also run through Monday.

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