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. (A deadly car crash on the Brooklyn Bridge this morning has also snarled traffic for the time being.)
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, the subway to operate on a Sunday schedule, meaning there will be less frequent service, and there will be changes to various lines. 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 at some subway stations on Thursday, mostly on Manhattan’s west side; some exits at 59th Street-Columbus Circle will be closed, as will some at Penn Station. Trains might also skip the 72nd Street B/C station because of crowding from the parade.
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 47-50th Streets–Rockefeller Center on the F line, and then along the D from Seventh Avenue up to 125th Street in Harlem. Trains begin running at 10 a.m. and the last one leaves Harlem at 5 p.m.
Buses will also operate on a Sunday schedule on Thursday; plan accordingly. Because of the parade, some bus stops in Midtown and on the Upper West Side will have service affected, and the 79th Street transverse will be closed for 24 hours beginning at noon on Wednesday. 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 and out of Manhattan on Thursday for parade-goers. On Thursday and Friday, trains will 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: There will be extra trains running on Wednesday beginning around 1 p.m., as well as additional trains into and out of Manhattan on Thursday for parade-goers. On Thursday, LIRR trains will operate on a holiday/weekend schedule, but they will go back to normal on Friday. LIRR is also adding extra weekend train service throughout the holiday season, leading right up to Christmas. All your timetables and schedules for those can be found here.
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 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 (with extra service because of the parade), while bus service will vary by route. On Friday, trains will run on their normal weekday service, with additional trains into NYC for Black Friday.
There are lots of changes to NJT buses on Wednesday, Thursday, and 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.
Heads up travelers:— Kennedy Airport (@JFKairport) November 18, 2018
Passenger volumes during the #Thanksgiving travel period are expected to be higher this year than 2017 totals so the TSA recommends arriving early - 2 hours prior to domestic departures and 3 hours prior to international departures. pic.twitter.com/i1mUgqoNvp
You can also check out the wait times at different security gates at NYC’s various airports through the TSA app.
NYC Ferry service will operate on a weekend schedule on Thursday. Unrelated to Thanksgiving, the South Williamsburg ferry landing will be closed from November 23 to 25 to facilitate repairs.
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.
Alternate side parking will be suspended on Thanksgiving day.