How to get around NYC this Thanksgiving weekend

Posted On Tue, November 26, 2019 By

Posted On Tue, November 26, 2019 By In holidays, Transportation

Image by Peter McConnochie via Flickr

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times across the country and can be especially overwhelming in NYC. With the annual Macy’s parade taking over Manhattan on Thursday (despite a windy forecast threatening the parade’s iconic balloons) and Black Friday frenzy, your commute is sure to be affected whether you’re planning on staying in the city or venturing out. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the service changes that will impact the city’s subways, buses, train service, and more.

Subways and Buses

On Thanksgiving Day, NYC subways and buses will be on a Sunday schedule, while the Staten Island Railway will be running on a Saturday schedule, so you can expect less frequent service across the board.

The parade route will begin at West 77th Street and Central Park West and continue along Central Park South and Sixth Avenue to 34th Street before coming to an end in front of Macy’s. We suggest taking one of the nearest subways if you’re heading to the parade in order to save yourself some major traffic headaches. The 81st Street-Museum of Natural History C, E station and 79th Street 1 station will bring you closest to the parade kickoff, while the D/F/N/Q/R station at 34th Street-Herald Square or the A/C/E/1/2/3 station at 34th Street-Penn Station service the parade’s end.

On Friday, subways and buses will run on a normal weekday schedule with only “minor adjustments” to departure times, per the MTA. Keep an eye out for limited-stop bus service in Queens and Staten Island.

Over the weekend, subways and buses will be on a “normal” weekend schedule which, as we all know, is entirely relative. Check out service changes that may impact your line here.

Metro-North

A festive press release from Metro-North cheerily announced a special Thanksgiving timetable “stuffed with sweet customer service” throughout the holiday weekend.

Eighteen “early getaway” trains will begin departing Grand Central at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, but take note that may cause some evening trains to be canceled or combined because of reduced ridership.

The Metro-North will run on an enhanced Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, with extra inbound trains to accommodate parade-goers.

Friday will be an enhanced Saturday schedule with extra trains in both directions for those looking to snag a Black Friday deal.

The weekend trains will abide by a regular weekend schedule, but off-peak fares will be in effect throughout.

LIRR

The Long Island Rail Road is supplementing train service for much of the holiday weekend to accommodate the Thanksgiving rush. A dozen extra east-bound trains will be added to the schedule on Wednesday evening to make it easier to get out of the city.

Six extra west-bound trains will be available on Thursday for customers trying to get into NYC for the parade and 11 east-bound trains will be added on Thursday afternoon to get riders home in time for dinner.

On Black Friday, the LIRR will run on a regular weekday schedule and give shoppers an extra boost with off-peak fares in effect all day.

Off-peak fares will continue throughout the weekend and the LIRR’s Family Fare Discount will also be in effect, allowing children ages 5-11 to ride one-way for only $1.

By Car

AAA estimates a 2.9 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel this year, with roughly 49.3 million people hitting the road across the country—that should make it the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since the AAA began tracking this data in 2000.

Travel times will hit their peak on Wednesday as holiday travelers mix with regular commuters. In New York, AAA has identified 5:15-7:15 p.m. as the worst possible time to be on the road. At that point, your trip is likely to take 3.5 times longer than it would on a normal Wednesday evening.

The Port Authority estimates a record number of 3.4 million vehicles will use the agency’s six crossings this weekend. All non-emergency construction work has been canceled from Wednesday, November 27 at 5 p.m. through Monday, December 2 at 5 p.m.

Airports

Airports are pretty much as busy as they can be around this time (and ongoing construction at LaGuardia won’t help matters) so make sure to plan ahead: arrive earlier than you think you should and consider making use of the free Q70 bus service to avoid parking issues. If you’re looking for a ride from LaGuardia, consider Lyft’s new shared-ride program.

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