Getaway Day Advice – Thankgiving 2019

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

  1. A look back at 2018: “What happened on the Wednesday 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 Wednesday before Thankgiving 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.


  • The early getaway was not bad: Between 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM, there were scattered issues on Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches
  • But the traditional commute saw “one of everything”…announced systemwide
    • 5:21 PM a medical issue
    • 6:01 PM (and re-stated at 6:23 PM) signal issues
    • 7:07 PM – slippery rail
    • 8:40 PM – LIRR announces things are finally on or close

Metro North

After some small noontime issues, primarily in the branches, the main 3 lines had fairly-uneventful afternoons (although those traveling near Southeast were affected by debris on track)

Metro North was also affected (6:51 PM) by the slippery rail condition announced by LIRR at 7:07 PM

NJ Transit Trains

  • Nothing out of the ordinary until 2:00 PM or so…but then the crowds took their toll
  • 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM, riders used the word packed to describe several trains
  • Between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM, conditions worsened. A handful of cancels, and very crowded conditions
  • 4:45 PM – Northeast Corridor experiences overhead wire problem..and things deteriorated further
  • 5:15 PM – NJT announces
    • NEC and NJCL service is suspended in both directions
    • cross-honoring is in place
  • 6:01 PM – NJT announces NEC and NJCL service resumes with 60-min delays
    …but commutes share news that every train listed at NYP is on STAND BY
  • 8:16 PM – The NEC and NJCL delays are now announced as 30-min
    …and by 9:30 PM, things seem back to normal

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

NJ Buses

  • 2:54 PM – PABT announced The PA Bus Term for Departures (NJ-bound) is experiencing a delay due to the general volume of traffic.
  • It was a crowded, but not terrible PM bus commute. By 6:00 PM, things were fairly quiet.

(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 their 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 Wednesday.
  • Pick/Pack your bag early and lightly!
  • Make your plan now…Do NOT wait until Wednesday morning to start thinking about this.

Have a great holiday!

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