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November 13, 2011 8:51 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to ride the train from NYC to Wassaic the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I have some questions about the logistics of traveling on a holiday weekend.

I don't have a very good understanding of the train system (I assume the Nassau train is more of a commuter rail? Or am I mistaken?) and the MTA website is confusing. Optimally, we'd be leaving around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, but we're flexible.

Is it a situation where one can or should buy tickets ahead of time? The advice I've gotten is all from people who have not traveled on such a busy weekend, and I don't know if that would change things. Is it possible for those trains to sell out, or to physically fill up? Is it likely? Is there any way to buy tickets online? Are tickets purchased for a specific date?

Probably dumb question, but thanks so much for your help!
posted by R a c h e l to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (9 answers total)
 
And by Nassau train, I meant Wassaic. Too many places with too many vowels and s's.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:05 PM on November 13, 2011


You can buy in advance and that might save you having to wait on line at Grand Central on the day you travel. You will have to exit at Southeast and then take another train to Wassaic.

The LIRR and Metro-North are both commuter train services.
posted by mlis at 9:05 PM on November 13, 2011


If by Nassau you mean Nassau County, then you're in the wrong place. Wassaic is upstate, so you want metro north. If you want to travel through Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, you want the LIRR. The LIRR does not go upstate. Wassaic is upstate, it's the end of the Harlem Line. You can buy tickets at the station the day you depart. Check the schedule on the metro north website. Unless you're north of Grand Central already, that's probably where you'll want to depart from.

I don't take metro north, but I assume like any other form of mass transit, trains can get full, just like subways, buses and ferries.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:09 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, metro north railroad to Wassaic. Nassau was my mistake. Will there be any trouble buying the day of in light of the holiday? If I wanted to buy ahead of time, do I have to go to Grand Central for that?
posted by R a c h e l at 9:15 PM on November 13, 2011


Tickets can be purchased ahead of time at any metro north vending machine (one at every station) and are good for 14 days (unless you buy something like a ten-trip, but it sounds like this will not be a regular thing). The ticket is good for any train, it does not promise you a seat. (If it's anything like the LIRR, as long as your ticket has the right zone, you can really take it anywhere, they just care about the zone since that determines the price. E.g., I can take a Westbury to Penn ticket in and use the round trip to go from Atlantic Terminal to Long Beach.) You just need to watch out for peak versus off-peak tickets. Accordingly, buying in advance won't help much. The machines don't "sell out" of tickets, so buying one sooner or later doesn't help. Getting there so you're first on the train and have a chance of getting a seat helps. Similarly, if you get on north of GC, you have less of a chance of getting a seat, if the train is full. The wikipedia entry on metro north has a lot of information, the LIRR entry may also be useful since they are quite similar in how they are run.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:26 PM on November 13, 2011


If you want to buy ahead of time you can do it online:

MNR Fares

You will not have any trouble buying a ticket the Wednesday before Thanksgiving -- they will not sell out. You may have to wait on line for ~ 15 minutes or so.

When you do get your ticket, proceed to the track where the train is and board as soon as you can as seats will fill up quickly and you want to be able to pick a nice one.
posted by mlis at 9:28 PM on November 13, 2011


You can't buy one shot tickets online -- only 10 packs and weekly/monthly passes. Grand Central will be busy, but not prohibitively so. You can purchase your ticket from a counter with a human being (longer line) or from a machine (sharper learning curve, but similar to MTA machines.)

Metro North is commuter-style, yes. Trains do not have reserved seating, therefore they do not sell out. Buy your ticket for your actual destination -- while there are fare zones, Wassaic is the end of the line. As said above, you'll change trains at Southeast -- all you'll need to do is cross the platform and board. Just follow everyone else who does it.

Trains out of GCT will be crowded, but if you arrive early you should be able to find a seat. Absolute worst case scenario, you'll have to stand until the train arrives in White Plains. More likely scenario: you'll sit in a three seat row with two other people, and your bag will go on the overhead rack.

Also worth noting: Unlike the New Haven line, there's no cafe car on Harlem line trains. If you want food or drink, bring it on board with you.
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:37 PM on November 13, 2011


Some of the trains to Wassaic are through trains that do not stop until they get to the unelectrified territory north of Southeast station. These will be seen during the evening rush hour and will have a diesel locomotive at the head end. If the train has MU cars you will have to switch at Southeast. This isn't really a problem as they are usually timed so you get off one train, cross the platform to the other, and leave within a few minutes.
posted by leaper at 4:17 AM on November 14, 2011


From the Metro North website for Nov 23:

Note that the 3:44pm train is off-peak and does not require changing trains, arrives at Wassaic at 5:51 pm.
There are also direct trains at 4:38 pm and 5:19 pm although those are peak trains.

If you show up 30 minutes early you should have no problem getting a seat even on what will probably be one of the busiest days of the year.

If you buy your ticket in advance, you can buy an off-peak ticket...if you wind up taking a peak train you will have to pay the difference on board but there is no penalty. You can also buy the ticket on board the train but it is much more expensive.

Departs
GRAND CENTRAL Notes Arrives
WASSAIC Notes Travel Time
In Minutes Transfer(s) Peak Fares Apply?
6:03 AM 8:18 AM 135 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 7:35 AM & LV 7:38 AM) PEAK
7:51 AM 10:11 AM 140 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 9:27 AM & LV 9:29 AM) PEAK
9:48 AM 12:03 PM 135 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 11:15 AM & LV 11:21 AM) OFF PEAK
11:48 AM 2:03 PM 135 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 1:14 PM & LV 1:21 PM) OFF PEAK
1:45 PM 4:03 PM 138 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 3:05 PM & LV 3:21 PM) OFF PEAK
1:48 PM 4:03 PM 135 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 3:14 PM & LV 3:21 PM) OFF PEAK
3:44 PM 5:51 PM 127 THROUGH TRAIN OFF PEAK
4:38 PM 6:43 PM 125 THROUGH TRAIN PEAK
5:19 PM 7:16 PM 117 THROUGH TRAIN PEAK
6:05 PM 8:57 PM 172 TRANSFER AT WHITE PLAINS(AR 6:56 PM & LV 7:01 PM) THEN AT SOUTHEAST(AR 7:51 PM & LV 8:15 PM) PEAK
6:13 PM 8:57 PM 164 TRANSFER AT WHITE PLAINS(AR 6:44 PM & LV 7:01 PM) THEN AT SOUTHEAST(AR 7:51 PM & LV 8:15 PM) PEAK
6:16 PM 8:57 PM 161 TRANSFER AT WHITE PLAINS(AR 6:50 PM & LV 7:01 PM) THEN AT SOUTHEAST(AR 7:51 PM & LV 8:15 PM) PEAK
6:30 PM 8:57 PM 147 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 7:51 PM & LV 8:15 PM) PEAK
6:52 PM 8:57 PM 125 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 8:13 PM & LV 8:15 PM) PEAK
7:52 PM 10:02 PM 130 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 9:17 PM & LV 9:20 PM) PEAK
8:52 PM 11:01 PM 129 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 10:16 PM & LV 10:19 PM) OFF PEAK
9:54 PM 12:03 AM 129 TRANSFER AT SOUTHEAST(AR 11:18 PM & LV 11:19 PM) OFF PEAK
posted by dabug at 8:29 AM on November 14, 2011


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