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Least inconvenient way to get into NYC if a car has to be parked somewhere
September 27, 2012 8:13 AM   Subscribe

A friend and I are heading into NYC next weekend. We are coming from Montreal and driving across the border. However, after that, we haven't decided the best way to get into the city. Should we drive to Albany and take a bus from there? (Is there long term parking in Albany?) Should we drive into a suburb and take a train in? Should we drive into the city and find a lot? (I'd probably prefer to do one of the first two unless there is some reason to do the third.)

The biggest problem with the Albany option is that, if the border is busy (probable: long weekend) or if we hit rush hour traffic, we can miss the bus. We won't have much luggage, we have no objections to the subway. I prefer not to take a Chinatown bus because all the reviews say it smells like toilet.
posted by jeather to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
The problem with parking in a suburb and taking the train in is that most of those suburban parking lots require that your car have a permit to be parked there. They may not enforce that requirement on the weekends, however, so it's worth looking in to. I would look at towns on the Hudson or Harlem lines of Metro-North.
posted by dfriedman at 8:18 AM on September 27, 2012


Parking in New York City is RIDICULOUS. If you go with a lot in New York City the price will be ridiculously expensive.

If you're concerned about missing a bus, you may want to consider driving to Poughkeepsie and getting a Metro-North train from there. The commuter trains are inexpensive (compared to the Amtrak train, that is), and the parking there is secure; I have friends who have a house upstate and live in Brooklyn, and they regularly left their car in the parking lot long-term (for weeks at a time) so they could take the train back and forth to Poughkeepsie and drive the rest of the way rather than driving the whole way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it's an option, absolutely just drive to Westchester County or NJ and take the commuter train. Do a little research first to find a station with parking that will accommodate the length of your stay, and then hop on NJT or Metro North. It's the most flexible, least expensive option by far, and you'll be glad not to have to deal with your car in the city.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:20 AM on September 27, 2012


(Upon lack of preview - I think the permit dfriedman is talking about may only apply if you're going to be leaving your car there for more than just a couple days; I know my friends had a permit, but that's because they were leaving their car there for weeks at a time sometimes. Double-check to be sure, but for just a weekend you may be okay.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on September 27, 2012


I agree Metro-North is your best bet. It's inexpensive.

If you come from Albany I would suggest the Bolt Bus or Megabus (cheap, nice, has wifi and electrical outlets in theory, though they are sometimes nonfunctional). Not sure about the parking situation. The Amtrak train from Albany-Rensselaer is another option, about $40 a ticket.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:20 AM on September 27, 2012


Long term parking at JFK is $18/day, which seems expensive but is cheap compared to the city, and your car is easily accessible by subway if you need it. For extra cheapness, park at one of the nearby private alternatives (which can be as cheap as $12/day), but it will be a little more trouble to get to your car when you get back.
posted by ubiquity at 8:23 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Albany to NYC is a bit of a haul. Could you do, say, Poughkeepsie?

When I drive down, I go to Newburgh/Beacon, and take the Metro North train in to Grand Central. Newburgh has a huge, free lot at the ferry dock, and the lots at Beacon should be OK on the weekend. Closer than that, the lots get smaller, and you may need a permit.

I avoid driving into the city itself. To try and find a lot at the tailend of an eight hour (?) drive? Ungh.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:24 AM on September 27, 2012


Brainstorm: There is a bus that runs straight from Montreal to New York the whole way; it's a little infrequent, and the trip is long, but it would save you the trouble of using a car altogether.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:27 AM on September 27, 2012


I'm all about Megabus!

Take from Albany, and then do what you do in NYC.

They have it in Montreal, but it only goes to Ontario. Boo!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2012


Amtrak has a train between Montreal and NYC.
posted by brujita at 8:31 AM on September 27, 2012


There is a bus that runs straight from Montreal to New York the whole way...

Not to discourage the Empress' brainstorm, but crossing the border on the bus is a gargantuan pain in the ass. Been there, done that, supressed homicidal rage. There is ALWAYS someone who gums up the works for everyone.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:34 AM on September 27, 2012


I've driven NYC-Montreal many times, and taken the bus many times. I wouldn't recommend the bus, the border is a nightmare when you have to go through customs with a busload of people. And the buses are gross. It takes 8+ hrs usually. I also wouldn't recommend driving to JFK from Montreal, that'll also likely be 8+ hrs getting through NYC (even if you take the Tappan Zee). I like the idea of parking at one of the Metro North stops and taking the train in. Just look up info on parking at those stops and I'm sure you'll find one where you don't need a permit or whatever.

As for crossing the border, I'd recommend leaving early in the morning on Friday to try and beat a possibly 2+ hrs wait at the border if it's an option at all.

And on preview, the train is apparently a nice option if you have all the time in the world, as it's comfortable and a nice ride. But it takes 10+hrs!
posted by Grither at 8:34 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


(And crossing the border on the train isn't much better. You will be parked at the station for a good couple of hours, fuming.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:35 AM on September 27, 2012


If I were you, I'd drive to Westchester (the county north of the Bronx) and take MetroNorth into the city. Sorry I can't recommend a town though, I live in a different suburb. There are plenty of suburbs less than an hour a way on Long Island where you can park at a commuter rail station for free all weekend without issue, I'm sure they exist in Westchester too.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2012


Parking in New York City is RIDICULOUS

I kind of disagree, actually. If you're coming in over the weekend, you can find on-street parking that isn't metered if you're willing to persist. I (used to) drive into NYC on the weekends pretty regularly, and I have never ever paid for street parking.
posted by deanc at 8:40 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not to discourage the Empress' brainstorm, but crossing the border on the bus is a gargantuan pain in the ass. Been there, done that, supressed homicidal rage.

Agree with this. Only consider this if your time is worth absolutely nothing.

You can park in Albany but the train is still a bit of a schlep. I'd consider Metro North and look to this page for parking options.
posted by jessamyn at 8:43 AM on September 27, 2012


What? No love for the New Haven line, dfriedman?

New Rochelle built a giant parking garage next to their train station awhile back. You can park there without a permit, but you have to pay a meter. I'm not sure if you can pay in advance for multiple days, but there's more information here. If you decide to park in New Roach Hell, send me a MeFiMail and I can suggest some streets near the train station where there is free, legal parking.
The train ride is 35 minutes to Grand Central.
posted by brina at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2012


What? No love for the New Haven line, dfriedman?

My hunch is that people are suggesting the Harlem/Hudson line because jeather is coming from the north, and would have a shorter drive if they picked Poughkeepsie, say, than if they picked New Rochelle. If someone were driving from Boston or somewhere east, I think you'd see more New Haven line suggestions then.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Driving into NYC for the weekend is doable on the cheap...but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a lot of experience navigating the city or at least extensive ground support from locals. Unless you want to risk a few hundred bucks in tickets for falling victim to our rather mysterious street parking regulations, or paying for a lot way out on like 10th ave.

Buses: i can only imagine the hell of waiting on the border in a bus of any sort. But even taking a bus in from somewhere upstate, you're at the mercy of bridge traffic, followed by the interminable block by block slog of your bus through Manhattan to Port Authority, Chinatown or wherever.

Taking the train in from upstate is the way to go. Amtrak from Albany is $40 and delivers you into Midtown in 2.5hrs. Metro-North commuter trains from Poughkeepsie or wherever are even cheaper and more frequent. The only minor downside is finding a place to park, most of the Metro-North commuter lots don't allow overnight parking. So you park like a block away.
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 8:55 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Previously (on another site).
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2012


I know that there exists a bus and a train from Montreal to NYC. I am not interested in either. I am crossing the border in a car because I know we both have passports from Canada and no arrests or warrants (and also we're both white and female, which helps at the border), and because I have done the bus and it's a horrible, horrible thing if you have a choice.

I have no objection to driving to Poughkeepsie or to anywhere at all that is on the Montreal side of NYC. (New Rochelle is much further.) Newburgh/Beacon seem to make the most sense, assuming there really is parking I can use from Friday to Monday (I think it's Columbus day that Monday). I don't mind paying for parking. Albany is probably overall faster, so I'll get timing for both options.

Thanks. If you have a specific train station and parking lot that you can direct me to via maps, that would also be awesome.
posted by jeather at 9:01 AM on September 27, 2012


You could also go to upper NJ - try Secaucus or the Newark Airport, or as suggested here, Weehawken.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:32 AM on September 27, 2012


(Ferry parking rates)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:35 AM on September 27, 2012


Parking in NYC is most definitely not ridiculous. It is my opinion that the buses ARE ridiculous -- uncomfortable, inconvenient, and slow -- and that driving into the city is a better option.

If you're going to be in Brooklyn or Queens at all, you can certainly find free street parking there -- just attend to the street cleaning signs (most streets forbid parking on one or two specific days of the week for cleaning, but you should be able to find a street that works for your schedule and/or move your car as necessary).

If you're going to be in Manhattan, then come over the George Washington Bridge and park in Washington Heights. You will only be driving in the city for a couple of blocks, and driving out is even easier. There's an excellent little underground parking garage right over the bridge on Haven and 176th (map - the map marker is pointing directly to the ramp into the garage) which was only $15 a day the last time I used it -- the cheapest parking I've found on the island of Manhattan. From there, it's a short walk to the 1/A/C trains and you can get anywhere you want to go.
posted by ourobouros at 9:40 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I kind of disagree, actually. If you're coming in over the weekend, you can find on-street parking that isn't metered if you're willing to persist. I (used to) drive into NYC on the weekends pretty regularly, and I have never ever paid for street parking.

I agree. The round-trip train can be kinda expensive too, and getting from Albany to NY is very annoying.

Street parking in NYC (NOT Manhattan) is probably the cheapest and best option for more than 1 person. In residential neighborhoods it is not at all difficult, and you can park pretty much anywhere on the weekend.

One very easy option would be to street-park in the Woodlawn neighborhood in the Bronx (take exit 13 from I-87, turn left on 233rd St). It will probably take 5 minutes to find parking on the weekend (and it's not the kind of place you would worry about your car).

Then you can hop on the Metro-North at Woodlawn Station, which is only $3.50 to Grand Central with a weekend CityTicket.
posted by zvs at 9:42 AM on September 27, 2012


Wait, am I missing something here? It couldn't cost more than about $100 to park in a deck in the city for a weekend, right? What would it cost to take a bus from Albany to NYC probably $30 round trip each? Isnt $40 woth knowing you dont have to spend 4 hours on bus and that you have use of your car at anytime in an emergency or if you get bored?
posted by Busmick at 9:52 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


...followed by the interminable block by block slog of your bus through Manhattan to Port Authority...

Are you kidding? That's the best part. 5th Ave, cross the park to Columbus > 9th and Bob's your uncle. If weekday traffic is heavy, then it's the Palisades to Lincoln Tunnel, ditto.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:59 AM on September 27, 2012


The New Haven line is rather more difficult for someone coming from the general direction of Albany and points north, as a cursory look at a map would show.
posted by dfriedman at 10:15 AM on September 27, 2012


Just to add another option: you can often get flights from Burlington, VT to NYC for ~$100 round trip on JetBlue. So you could leave your car at the Burlington Airport ($8/day, I think) and catch a 40-minute flight to the city. Adds the hassle of air travel to your trip, but shaves off some travel time as well.
posted by plantbot at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2012


For what it's worth, I drove into Manhattan from the north on a whim on New Year's Eve and stayed 2 days a couple of years ago, and parking was both surprisingly easy to find and not as expensive as I feared. Something like $20 or $25/day, which made it about the same as parking + commuter train would have cost.
posted by zug at 10:31 AM on September 27, 2012


You can definitely park in a Brooklyn or Queens neighborhood close to a subway stop for a long weekend and not really need to worry about your car. I did this for years before I moved to the city and I still keep a car that I park on the street in my neighborhood with relative ease. This would be the free (but for a metro card) option. Honestly with all the holidays - it's a good time to do this. I love this time of the year because alternate side is suspended so often. Just google alternate side of the street nyc and you get a calendar with dates that could very easily extend your free parking in October for a week or more if you find a smart spot.
posted by rdnnyc at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2012


Data points RE: Albany - there are two parking options at the train station. Covered parking is about $10/day for the garage and maybe $6-8/day for the exterior lot. The trains are prone to delays but if you find a train originating from Albany, these a preferred. The trains originating in Albany and ending in NYC, however, do NOT have a snack car so bring some food on the train.

Saratoga Springs is also a possibility with free long term parking. Again, trains are somewhat prone to delays and are infrequent at the station so possibly problematic.

If you do plan to take Amtrak, you should book your tickets in advance as trains often sell out on holiday weekends.
posted by countrymod at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2012


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