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Here’s what you need to know to get where you’re going by NYC public transit this Thanksgiving weekend. Special schedules apply for trains and buses from Wednesday, November 21, through Sunday, November 25 to get you over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house and back Thanksgiving weekend. The good news is that MTA is suspending bridge and tunnel maintenance for the holiday, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North are providing extra service, off-peak fares apply, and there’s a free bus to La Guardia. Look below for more information.
New York City Subway: Thanksgiving Day Service
The New York City Subway will operate on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day. Also, there’s a parade:
If you’re headed to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the closest subway stations are the 72 Street 1, 2, 3, the 79 Street 1, the 81 Street C and the 59 Street-Columbus Circle 1, A, C, D.
To accommodate the expected crowds, there will be service added on the 42 Street S Subway Shuttle and increased early morning service on the 1. To prevent crowding, some subway entrances at 59 St-Columbus Circle will be closed (which we’d think would have the opposite effect but we’ll assume they’ve done the homework).
The 72 Street station will remain open, but trains may bypass the station if the parade area starts getting too crowded. Also, select exits and entrances will be closed at Penn Station and stations along the Sixth Avenue B, D, F and M lines.
MTA New York City Transit buses will also operate on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day (which means many routes aren’t operating at all, so be sure to check the Sunday schedule and expect delays). The parade will also affect pretty much all routes near the route in Manhattan. The 79 Street Transverse will be closed from 12 noon Wednesday, November 21, to 12 noon Thursday, November 22.
It’s back to regularly-scheduled suffering on Black Friday, November 23 for NYC buses; see mta.info for exceptions such as express routes.
Free Q70 Select Bus Service LaGuardia Link and AirTran shuttle buses
The MTA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are offering free rides on the Q70 Select Bus Service (SBS) LaGuardia Link from Monday, November 19, to Monday, November 26, providing a worry-free limited-stop ride, complete with customer amenities designed for travelers.
Also, look for special overnight bus and weekend subway service to Jamaica JFK AirTran: To accommodate critical track renewal work on the E Subway line in Queens, E trains will terminate at 179 Street in Queens on select late nights and weekends through November and December. If you’re traveling to or from JFK Airport during those times, you can take free shuttle buses making all E station stops between Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike and Jamaica Center for service to Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue for the Jamaica AirTrain. You can also take the A to Howard Beach-JFK for the JFK AirTrain or LIRR to Jamaica.
Get out of town (and back)
The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will provide extra early afternoon train service on Wednesday, November 21 to give travelers a head start, and from Thursday through Sunday, both railroads will offer off-peak fares and more frequent train service.
The Metro-North is offering special service and extra trains throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Off-peak fares will be in effect on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22, through Sunday, November 25, with free parking at many stations. If you’re traveling into Manhattan you can get a 10-trip off-peak ticket and save 30 to 40 percent off the one-way fare. Thanksgiving weekend timetables can be found here.
On Wednesday, November 22, there will be 18 “early getaway” trains leaving Grand Central Terminal during the mid-day period, including five extra trains on the Hudson Line between 1:38 p.m. and 4:11 p.m., three additional trains on the Harlem Line between 2:15 p.m. and 3:34 p.m., and ten extra trains on the New Haven Line between 12:58 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. For west-of-Hudson customers, early getaway trains will operate on both the Port Jervis Line and Pascack Valley Line on Wednesday, November 21.
Metro-North will also provide more inbound morning service for customers heading to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which kicks off at 9 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West and ends in front of Macy’s at Herald Square (34th Street). There is also expanded outbound service starting in the late morning and continuing through mid-afternoon. Customers leaving Manhattan after the parade must show a ticket before boarding trains at Grand Central or Harlem-125th Street Station. There will also be extra trains in the evening to accommodate post-feast travelers returning to New York City.
If you’re headed into the shopping fray on Friday, November 23, Metro-North will operate on an expanded Saturday schedule with additional inbound service in the morning and outbound service in the afternoon as well as half-hourly service on the Harlem Line to and from North White Plains. West of Hudson, a regular weekday schedule is in effect for Friday, November 23.
MTA Long Island Rail Road is adding additional train service along with off‐peak ticket pricing this extended holiday weekend from November 22-25, 2018. On Friday, November 23, the LIRR will run a regular weekday schedule but will honor all tickets at lower, off‐peak fares.
Vintage trains are back
The MTA celebrates the holiday season each year with “Shoppers Special” vintage subway trains from the 1930s which run up the Sixth Avenue D, F, M lines and from 2 Avenue on the F line to Rockefeller Center, then up the Central Park West A, C, D lines to 125 Street. This special train runs every Sunday between November 25 and December 30 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., starting at 125 Street.
Per the whims of the MTA, the schedules above are subject to change, probably for the worst.
- The Urban Lens: Vintage photos document the origins of Black Friday shopping in NYC
- NYC’s best alternative holiday markets and coolest pop-up shops of 2018
- Transit Museum Brings Back Its Vintage Subways and Buses for the Holidays
- Goku, Little Cloud, and Netflix Elves: Meet the new balloons in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade