JThanksgiving week is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and leaving Long Island won’t be easy. But there are several ways to beat the crowds – as well as regular crowded vigils.
“The outlook if you’re driving is pretty bleak,” said Sam Schwartz, former New York City traffic commissioner and founder of Sam Schwartz Engineering.
While public transit ridership has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, car traffic has rebounded and truck volumes are 110% of what they were in 2019, he said. declared. Each truck on the road is equivalent to two or three vehicles.
From Tuesday to Sunday, more than 5 million cars are expected to cross seven bridges and two tunnels operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The traffic will create major bottlenecks at the crossings, according to David Schrank, senior researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
The worst day to leave town is usually the Wednesday before the holidays, but leaving on Tuesday shouldn’t be a breeze either. More and more people are choosing to start their getaway early, experts said. For flights, the busiest days are Tuesday and Wednesday before the holiday and Sunday after, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Heavy travel at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports slows road traffic in the surrounding area. “During the holiday week, there is a domino effect in which freeway after freeway is congested with traffic to and from airports,” Schwartz said, noting, for next year, that leaving on the Monday before the holiday is probably the best bet.
The airport crash comes despite a 24% increase in domestic fares from 2019, according to Hopper, a travel booking app. The Transportation Security Administration estimates passenger volumes will be higher than last year and close to 2019 levels as 2.5 million passengers are expected to be screened at checkpoints nationwide on Wednesday, according to a news release. .
In 2019, there was a record nearly 2.9 million passengers screened on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the highest number since the agency was established in 2001.
Flights at Long Island MacArthur Airport are also expected to be full, according to Caroline Smith, spokeswoman for the city of Islip.
To get ahead of the crowds, experts advised leaving very early in the morning. Whenever possible, opt for alternative means of transportation, such as the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak.
There are going to be traffic jams and traffic jams. Start early and be patient.
— David Schrank, principal investigator at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute
“I think it’s worth considering taking the train. It’s faster than sitting in traffic on the Long Island Freeway. It’s more enjoyable because you can get up and walk around and you don’t have to deal with drunk drivers or other road hazards,” said Sarah Kaufman, NYU Rudin’s acting executive director. Center for Transportation.
Regardless of the mode of transport used, exercise a lot of patience.
“This is the first Thanksgiving we’ve had where for the most part most COVID issues are behind us, so I think everyone is good to go,” Schrank said. “There are going to be traffic jams and traffic jams. Start early and be patient.”
About 49 million people across the country will travel more than 50 miles to their destination, and the metropolitan area will see the worst traffic jams on the eve of the holiday, according to an analysis of traffic data conducted for AAA by Washington-based INRIX.
If you take the Verrazzano Bridge, expect congested roads to and from it.
The westbound Belt Parkway will see a 77% increase in traffic from Exit 17 to Exit 3. After that, the Staten Island Freeway, or I-278 south, is expected to see the largest increase in the region over at typical displacement volumes – a 158% increase from exit 13 to exit 22.
There will also be delays in the Queens Midtown Tunnel. The westbound Long Island Freeway will see a 21% increase in congestion at exits 44 through 16.
Heading east won’t be so great either. INRIX predicts a 66% increase in traffic on the Belt Parkway eastbound from Exits 3 through 17. The Long Island Freeway east from Exit 13 through Exit 32 is expected to nearly double from typical travel volumes .
Beginning Wednesday, the Long Island Rail Road will operate 12 additional trains from Penn Station between 12:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. The additional service includes four trains on the Babylon branch, three on the Port Jefferson/Huntington branch, two on the Ronkonkoma branch. , and one each on branches in Far Rockaway, Montauk and Port Washington, according to a press release.
On Saturday and Sunday, the LIRR will operate on its regular weekend schedule.
For Amtrak Service at Moynihan Train Hall in Penn Station, passengers can get a direct link to several out-of-town destinations, including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
There are direct flights from Long Island MacArthur Airport to Ronkonkoma, but there are about 27% fewer seats this year compared to last year.
“We expect the flights to be full. However, due to the current economic climate, we are seeing a reduction in available seats,” Islip Town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said in a text message, adding that there were fewer seats at regional airports across the country.
There are 11,000 places this year from the day before Thanksgiving to Sunday against 15,000 last year at the same time. American Airlines, which stopped serving the airport in September, accounted for 5% of the total number of seats per day, Smith said.
The Transportation Security Administration is expecting a busy week at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports through Sunday. Hopper ranked Kennedy Airport as the eighth-worst airport in the nation for disrupted flights last Thanksgiving and over the summer. To guard against potential delays, the app recommends booking the first flight of the day.
LaGuardia, Kennedy, Teterboro, Newark Liberty and New York Stewart airports are expected to see more than 2.2 million flyers, the most since the pandemic began, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the installations. Passengers should expect longer wait times at LaGuardia and Newark Liberty due to ongoing construction and potential TSA staffing shortages.
For a guaranteed way to escape the Long Island traffic jam and get to Manhattan, there’s a 30-minute helicopter ride from Easthampton Airport or a seat on a seaplane from Sag Harbor. Tickets on BLADE Urban Air Mobility average between $795 and $1,025.
Ferries to Connecticut from Port Jefferson and Orient Point can be an alternative to the Long Island Expressway and Interstate 95.
But the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co. will operate at one-third less capacity over the Thanksgiving holiday due to one ship undergoing required inspections, according to Frederick Hall, vice president and general manager.
He expects demand to exceed the number of spaces available and advised customers to book early, but said walk-in customers would not be affected.
The Cross Sound Ferry, which travels from Orient Point to New London, Connecticut, expects numbers this week to be equal to or better than last year.
“The Thanksgiving holiday is one of our busiest weeks of the year,” Christopher J. Anglin, facilities operations manager, said in an email.
While it may be tempting, cycling out of the suburbs isn’t entirely doable, according to certified triathlon coach and educator Robert McKeown, owner of South Shore Tri Coach.
“I think the risk is too high,” said McKeown, of Babylon, noting that cold temperatures and traffic will pose a hazard.
TAKE LIRR ON THE PARADE
Revelers can use 17 additional LIRR trains on Thursday for the city’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- The extended service includes six westbound trains from Long Island between 6:00 and 7:45 a.m. – two each on the Babylon branch and Ronkonkoma branch, and one each on the Montauk branch and Port Jefferson branch.
- There will be 11 additional eastbound trains departing from Penn Station between 11 a.m. and 1:35 p.m. – four each on the Babylon branch and Ronkonkoma branch, two on the Port Jefferson/Huntington branch and one on the Montauk branch.