Getaway Day Advice: Memorial Day 2019

As a service to commuters, we provide this getaway advice for those who are exiting NYC (via public transit) for Memorial Day Weekend. Read on for:

  1. A look back at 2018: “What happened on the Friday before the holiday last year?
  2. Clever Commute’s “SIX T’s” – the key to a stress-free commute on get-away day.

(1) What happened on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend last year?

Overall: things were good before 1:00 PM. Conditions deteriorated in the 1:00 hour.
See carrier-specific notes below for details about what happened on your commute.

LIRR

  • Starting at 1:03 PM – A steady stream of offical announcements regarding delays
  • 1:00 PM to 4:00PM – About a dozen different official issues announced
    (mostly delays, bus some cancelled trains). These were generally equipment problems
  • 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM – About a dozen more official LIRR alerts regarding delayed trains.
    A common theme was “high volume of customers traveling”
  • In the 7:00 PM hour, the Babylon branch took a hit
    • 7:18 PM –  Scattered delays “due to a truck striking a LIRR bridge west of Lynbrook”
    • 7:44 PM – LIRR announced “delays averaging 15 – 20 minutes in both directions”
    • 8:48 PM – LIRR announced Babylon branch is “on or close”

Metro North

The big story was the New Haven line: delays due to issues closing the bridge after an opening in the vicinity of South Norwalk
4:03 PM – Metro North estimated 20-30 min delays (https://t.co/jsgb3p1EjH)
4:30 PM – Metro North upped the estimate to 45 minutes (https://t.co/1SKw6sAX0D)

NJ Transit Trains

  • 1:21 PM – NJT announced delays due to “heavy customer travel”
  • 1:56 PM – NJT reiterated the “heavy customer travel” warning
  • 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM – NEC and NJCL issues due to equipment problems and then fire department activity
  • Main & Bergen experienced this:
    • In the 5:00 PM hour – 2 trains canceled
    • In the 6:00 PM hour – a few late trains due to signal problems
  • 6:31 PM – NJT officially announced systemwide delays “due to congestion caused by holiday travel”
    7:30 PM – NJT announced trains are “on or close”

Hoboken was consistently reported to be a good option throughout the day

NJ Buses

It was an OK evening commute

  • 3:24 PM – An official warning of NJ-bound delays due to the general volume of traffic
  • 3:31 PM – In-bound Lincoln delays were announced…with a warning about pending outbound delays
  • 3:54 PM – A second, official warning of NJ-bound delays

(2) Here are Clever Commute’s “SIX T’s” – the key to a stress-free commute on getaway day:

1. Technology – Think and plan NOW. Update your apps, load your e-Reader, charge your headphones, curate your playlist, charge your device and consider a portable charger.
Theses simple things can greatly reduce stress.

2. Tickets – tickets..TicketsTICKETSGet them early!
If you or your traveling companion will need a ticket, get it BEFORE Friday afternoon.
Lines are loooooong on getaway days.
Idea: LIRR, Metro NorthNJ Transit and NY Waterway all have ticket apps!

3. Timing is crucial
Use the re-cap above as a guide…but add some padding to be safe.

4. Timetables and Schedule changes 
LIRR, Metro North and NJ Transit will provide (extra) getaway day service…but all 3 have date-specific trip planners on thier sites.

5. Terminal – Choose wisely

  • If it is at all within your control, avoid NY Penn Station.
  • NJT riders: consider Hoboken and/or Newark Penn
  • LIRR riders:  consider Atlantic Terminal or Hunterspoint Avenue

6. Other Tips: 

  • Dress in layers – the terminal or the trains can be warm
  • Bring water/snacks – save time…save money. Plan ahead.
  • “Baggage strategy” matters – There is going to be lots of luggage around on Friday.
  • Pick/Pack your bag early and lightly!
  • Make your plan now…Do NOT wait until Friday morning to start thinking about this.

Have a great holiday!