help me get from JFK to central NJ
March 29, 2007 8:56 AM   Subscribe

My German cousin is arriving on a flight into JFK on the evening of Tuesday April 10th. I will be unable to pick him up, and he's happy to take transit to where I am in Central Jersey (where I CAN pick him up). Help me get him from JFK to Central Jersey (and help me know the subtleties of the transit options) ...

We've ridden the NJ Transit trains before out of Penn Station so I'm pretty sure that will be the second leg. I guess then that I need help with the first leg.

There seem to be several options to get him from JFK to Penn Station. Train, subway, shuttle bus, taxi ... What would be a good pick for a middle-aged professional foreigner with excellent English? It needs to be on time and needs to go direct from JFK to Penn, meaning no crosstown changes in Manhattan. Penn will be enough hassle for him, after that long flight, I don't want to burden him with a Grand Central to Penn leg.

I'll monitor this for the next few hours if there are any clarifying questions ...
posted by intermod to Travel & Transportation around New Jersey (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How much are you or he willing to spend?
posted by hermitosis at 9:00 AM on March 29, 2007

Because really, there are some intense options.
posted by hermitosis at 9:08 AM on March 29, 2007

It'll take some transfers, but it's pretty simple. Just take the Air Train from JFK to Jamaica station, then transfer to the LIRR, which will take you directly into Penn Station (about a 20-25 minutes ride). Then just transfer to njtransit (across the hall from the lirr) in penn station. It'll be 45-60 minutes to central jersey, depending on where you want to go.
posted by jourman2 at 9:15 AM on March 29, 2007

Get him a limo. There is nothing like walking into the baggage claim area to see a bright smiling fellow holding up a small sign with your name on it. JFK to central Jersey will be about $120, and well worth it. I suggest Boston Coach.
posted by caddis at 9:21 AM on March 29, 2007

Response by poster: I was going to say "money is no object", but, uh, yeah, no, the helicopter option is too much. Thanks though :)

Thanks jourman2, that seems like the obviously right way to go. I'm not sure why I was worried about it and felt I needed to ask here. I guess I'm looking for warm fuzzies on exactly what the platform transfer looks like. You gave me the LIRR->Penn part, and the AirTrain site gave me the Jamaica station part.
posted by intermod at 9:29 AM on March 29, 2007

Commence warm fuzzy: Jamaica has good signage and there will be lots of people going from JFK to Penn. I bet your cousin could do it on autopilot even without excellent English.
posted by sonofslim at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2007

to give you some extra reassurance about penn and the transfer to njtransit, tell him to just follow the signs to njtransit, but if he gets confused there's always tons and tons of NYPD/National Guard troops/Amtrak police just hanging out all over the place. They'll all know how to get to njtransit.
posted by jourman2 at 9:44 AM on March 29, 2007

second the limo idea, if its not above your budget.
posted by Izzmeister at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2007

If you don't want to take the LIRR, you can take the A from Howard Beach Station or the E from Jamaica to Penn as well. I imagine the LIRR is faster, but it is an option.
posted by dame at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2007

The A train ride /sucks/ -- takes forever, and it's only $3 cheaper than the LIRR. Definitely take LIRR, especially since you're heading to NJT.
posted by fet at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2007

If money is (broadly speaking) no object, a taxi from JFK to Penn Station seems much more straightforward. IMHO the JFK Airtrain is a ridiculous hassle for the distance covered, and not worth doing if the $45 taxi fixed price isn't an issue for you.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:08 AM on March 29, 2007

There's a JFK-Penn Shuttle which involves a transfer at Grand Central, but it's all part of the same ticket and they herd the people like sheep, so maybe that serves your hassle needs. I've taken the shuttle from Laguardia-GCT and they are clean, comfortable buses with nice staff (who admittedly shill for tips a lot).

Google also says there's a JFK-Newark (and parts beyond) bus, but I have no experience with that.
posted by cardboard at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2007

The easiest way would be the cab from JFK to Penn for $45. The cheapest that makes sense would be the AirTrain/LIRR route already mentioned. Just thought I would reiterate =)
posted by infinityjinx at 10:50 AM on March 29, 2007

hermitosis: flyush will not take a massive load of baggage on board. those sikorski's can take a bit more than a small suitcase per person. that being said, it's a great option.

get him a shuttle or a limo. there are too many options to get lost, confused, misdirected and whatnotelse.
posted by krautland at 10:52 AM on March 29, 2007

I just did this journey twice the other day. I can throughly recommend the LIRR to Penn Station (with the airtrain from the airport to Jamaica) and then, of course NJ Transit to wherever in Jersey. The A train does indeed suck and the LIRR from Jamaica is nice, pleasant and, above all, quick.
posted by ob at 11:15 AM on March 29, 2007

The Airtrain->LIRR->NJT solution is, IMHO, the far most pleasant of the listed options. I hate being in NY traffic.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:01 PM on March 29, 2007

yep, airtrain/lirr/njt is definitely the way to go.

if you're feeling anxious, or if he's anxious, just tell him that it's okay to ask other passengers about the right train. it's not scary, and no one will rob him--i lived there for 6 years and even i had to ask sometimes.

the biggest possible bungle is getting on the wrong train at jamaica. i would tell him to confirm with other passengers (or a conductor if he can find one) that the train's going to penn station. he ought to be able to finesse the new jersey transit as long as you tell him which train line to look for. the ticket kiosks are all multilingual, so he might even be able to do all those transactions in german.

if he's totally exhausted, though, a cab from jfk to penn station isn't a horrible choice. it's about $50.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:55 PM on March 29, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I'm sending the detailed itinerary to him now.
posted by intermod at 6:57 PM on March 29, 2007

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