Commuting to NYC from Hartford. Confused as Heck.
July 12, 2007 10:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving from Ohio to Connecticut this year, and need help with figuring out my commute.

I currently live in the Greater Cincinnati area in Ohio, and have lived here all my life. Recently my partner was offered a job at a major university in Connecticut, and my job is mobile, so here we go.

We will probably be living near the University, probably in the Hartford area. I will be splitting my time three ways; mostly working from home, commuting to Boston once a week, and to NYC once or twice per month.

The Boston trip, I pretty much have that figured out, since our office is outside of the downtown area; NYC I am having a little more difficulty with.

I am finding that trains from Hartford to Penn Station aren't running on schedules that I would need, and New Haven isn't much better. So my thinking was to drive close to the city, and get on the transit system once I get there.

Is it reasonable to "park and ride" in NYC? Will this be a major headache? What is the best solution? Any thoughts on getting me from Hartford to NYC would be helpful. I need to end up at Penn Station no matter what, so that might help narrow it down.

I've been to NYC on business a few times, and I'm pretty comfortable with the subway and trains, so I'm not afraid to jump on mass transit, just need to figure out where to get on so I can get where I am going, and how much it's going to cost me to park my car in a place I will be safe to get it back in the evening.
posted by benjh to Travel & Transportation around Connecticut (8 answers total)
When you say "New Haven isn't much better" what do you mean?

There are only three real options for rail travel into NYC from CT:

1. Amtrak. As you've found, it doesn't run too often.
2. Metro-North. It terminates in New Haven, but should have a vastly superior schedule to Amtrak trains. You could park in New Haven, or at stops south which might have better parking situations (sorry, can't remember which specifically).
3. NYC Subway. This would require you to drive into the city limits, at which point (depending on where you're going) you might as well just drive to within a few blocks of your destination.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 10:21 AM on July 12, 2007

So Metro-North from New Haven to Grand Central is not sufficient? On preview, what cyrusdogstar said. Are you traveling in the middle of the night perhaps?
posted by ALongDecember at 10:24 AM on July 12, 2007

You might try driving to Stamford, CT and grabbing Metro-North from there. Trains going out to New Haven and up to New Canaan all go through Stamford, so the schedule might offer you more options. It's also got a nice parking garage.
posted by rachelv at 10:25 AM on July 12, 2007

Seconding Stamford - the New Haven parking lots fill up fast.

FYI, if your wife's major university is UConn, keep in mind that Storrs is 30 miles from Hartford, and 84 (the east-west freeway) gets pretty hairy at rush hours, particularly around the interchange with 91 (to New Haven and south), so if you're living east of Hartford (not in East Hartford - more like Manchester/Vernon) build that in to any commuting time estimates.
posted by pdb at 10:36 AM on July 12, 2007

I did exactly this for the last 4 years.

Keep in mind, it's a real b*tch to go from hartford to NYC during the week. It's two hours, minimum, no matter if you drive or "park and train".

The least frustrating would be to park at New Haven and train in to Grand Central. It's a 90 minute train ride from New Haven, plus plan about 30 to get to New Haven. 10 minutes to park, 5 to buy the ticket and get to the train. Overall, 2 hours 15 minutes. If I recall, it's $8 to park at New Haven.

Stamford is another alternative, but honestly, if you are driving during "normal" commuting hours, it will easily take you 2+ hours to drive home from Stamford due to traffic. The train is around 40 minutes from Stamford.

Boston is easy.

BTW, I'm happy to answer any relocation questions you might have. I grew up in the midwest, as well, and moved out there for a few years. I can definitely answer any questions on house-hunting, etc, from a non-local perspective. My email is in my profile.
posted by pencroft at 10:44 AM on July 12, 2007

New Haven resident here who commutes to Stamford weekdays, and occasionally to midtown NYC. When I used to live in Rocky Hill (suburb to the south of Hartford) I would drive to New Haven and take the Metro North from there. Public transportation from Hartford to New Haven is virtually nonexistant -- don't bother.

Drive to New Haven, park, and take the Metro North to Grand Central, then walk or take the subway to wherever you're going, you'll be fine.

The two garages near the train station in New Haven (one connected to the station, one across the street) are generally filled up by 9am weekdays, except for Wednesdays when they generally fill up earlier. If you're leaving before 9am though (up to the 8:50 offpeak) you should be okay to park in New Haven.

If you're leaving a bit later and you find that New Haven parking has filled up, you can take I-91S in Hartford, hop on the parkway in Meriden (rt 15) and take that to Milford, the next stop on the Metro North train. The Milford station has a decent amount of parking and usually fills up later than New Haven does.

It all depends on what time you're commuting, though -- the I-95S drive from New Haven to NY is pretty crummy so I'd recommend avoiding as much as possible.

BTW I am happy to answer any questions you have about CT, offer restaraunt recommendations or whatever. I've lived in New Haven for ~20 years (grew up there and currently living there as well) as well as a ~1.5yr stint in Rocky Hill.
posted by reptile at 11:15 AM on July 12, 2007

You may already know this, if you are going to New Haven or Stamford from Hartford during rush hour, avoid the 91-95 merge in any way you can.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 12:53 PM on July 12, 2007

Maybe you're confused because you think that Penn is the only main train station in NYC. There's another one - Grand Central. Trains from the CT shoreline terminate at this station. They run very frequently and are quite dependable, so I'm skeptical that "they aren't running on schedules that [you] need."

Take the train from New Haven to Grand Central, not Penn, Station in NYC. Then take the subway to where you need to go.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 1:46 PM on July 12, 2007

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