Brace yourselves, New Yorkers: whether you’re sticking around town for the Thanksgiving holiday, or planning to get out of town for the weekend, your commute is going to be affected.
The myriad transit methods available in the city—subway, bus, commuter rail, you name it—will have schedule changes in effect. Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year, and is also one of the city’s gridlock alert days, when traffic is expected to be at its worst.
And it’s not just people leaving town for the holiday that you have to worry about: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will also affect transit service, as will the consumerist nightmare known as Black Friday.
But if you don’t have the option of staying in your apartment all weekend, we’ve got you covered: Here’s everything you need to know about service changes this week on subways, buses, airports, streets, and more.
On Thursday, expect the subway to operate on a Sunday schedule, meaning there will be less frequent service, and there will be changes to various lines (including the 2/3, which won’t run in Brooklyn). The MTA has outlined what that means here. The Staten Island Railway will be running on a Saturday schedule.
The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will cause major drama on some subway stations on Thursday; according to the MTA, the 57th St station on the F line will be closed from 7 to 11 a.m., and some stations along the route—including heavily trafficked ones like 34th St-Herald Sq and 59th St-Columbus Circle will also have entrances and exits blocked off.
After the holiday, the subway reverts back to normal service—though “normal” is relative when it comes to the MTA, and there will be plenty of service changes taking you through the rest of the weekend. The MTA’s Weekender guide has details on those.
And on a fun note: The New York Transit Museum’s special vintage holiday trains begin running again this weekend; they’ll travel between Second Ave and Lexington Ave-63rd St on the F line, and then along the Q—aka the Second Avenue subway—from 63rd St to 96th St. Trains begin running at 10 a.m. and the last one leaves the Upper East Side at 5 p.m.
Buses will also operate on a Sunday schedule on Thursday; plan accordingly. Because of the parade, there will be no crosstown service along the parade route, and some bus stops in Midtown and on the Upper West Side will have service affected. The balloon inflation will also cause service disruptions.
There are also broader changes in effect for Manhattan and Queens bus service during the holiday season, particularly around Rockefeller Center; the MTA has outlined those here.
If you rely on the bus to get to and from LaGuardia Airport, then good news: the MTA and the Port Authority will offer free service along the Q70’s Select Bus Route, which operates between the airport and several subway stations in Queens. The buses go from LGA to the 61 St-Woodside subway station on the 7, and the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Av stop, which services the E, F, M, R, and 7 lines.
Metro-North and LIRR
Both the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road will be running extra trains on Wednesday to accommodate folks getting out of town for the holiday, and service changes will be in effect throughout the week. Here’s how that’ll look for each one:
Metro-North: There will be extra trains running on Wednesday beginning at 1 p.m., and additional trains into Manhattan on Thursday for parade-goers. On Thursday, trains will run on a “modified weekend” schedule, and on Friday, they’ll be operating on a Saturday schedule. Trains will run as they normally do on Saturday and Sunday. All your timetable and schedules for those can be found here.
LIRR: On Wednesday evening, there will be 12 additional trains to Long Island from Penn Station, and six extra trains heading into Manhattan from various points. Ditto that on Thursday—to accommodate parade-goers, there will be extra trains running to and from Penn Station. More trains will be running on Saturday and Sunday as well, and that uptick in service will continue through the rest of the holiday season. Off-peak fares are in effect through the weekend.
New Jersey Transit
There are plenty of changes to NJT service over the weekend, chief among them the addition of early “getaway” service, similar to what the Metro-North is offering, on Wednesday; trains will begin running to and from Penn Station at 1 p.m. to accommodate holiday travelers. There will also be additional buses running on some lines from Port Authority beginning at 12:30 p.m.; best to check the NJT website for full details.
On Thursday, trains will operate on a weekend schedule, while bus service will vary by route. Friday will be modified regular service, with additional trains into NYC for Black Friday. Should you want to spend Black Friday at a mall in New Jersey (and if you do, why), there will be extra buses running to and from seven different shopping centers. The NJT website has all the details.
PATH trains will operate on a Saturday schedule on Thanksgiving day, and a modified weekday schedule on the day after Thanksgiving. There aren’t too many other details available, but the PATH Twitter account is a good place to check for updates.
The day before Thanksgiving is historically one of the most hectic travel days of the year—and New York’s airports won’t be immune to chaos. Both LGA and JFK have been blasting out travel tips via Twitter, which boil down to the basics: arrive earlier than you think you need to; take public transportation (use that free Q70 service!); be prepared with your boarding pass; you know the drill.
Some quick things to note: There’s construction happening at LGA currently, so definitely allow yourself extra time if you’re planning on driving or taking a cab to the airport. (And its hourly parking lot is closed to facilitate construction; more details on that here.)
The TSA’s website also lets you check out the wait times at different security gates at NYC’s various airports; find that here.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will, of course, bring plenty of street closures to Manhattan on Thursday; check ‘em all out here.
The DOT’s weekly traffic advisory also lists any potential street closures or service changes, which you can find here. The city’s official street closures map can be found here, although the Macy’s parade (and the balloon inflation) are the two biggest things going this weekend.