Transit Schedules Beefed Up for Holiday Rush

MTA and NJ Transit are adding extra trains and buses over the Thanksgiving holiday to handle the busiest three travel days of the year.

Metro-North will absorb Wednesday afternoon’s out-of-town surge by adding 16 outbound trains, beginning at 1 p.m. Off-peak fares are in effect on Metro-North trains from Thursday through Sunday.

Long Island Railroad will provide an extra ten trains out of Penn Station on the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Montauk, Port Jefferson and Port Washington branches from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday and New Jersey Transit will have additional trains from Penn as well as more buses from the Port Authority Terminal. Staten Island Railroad will have extra express train service from the St. George Ferry Terminal beginning at 2:30 p.m.

The LIRR will enforce an alcohol ban on stations and platforms from 8 p.m. Wednesday through 5 a.m Thanksgiving Day.

You may now flee to your ancestral homes.

On Thursday, both Metro North and NJ Transit will be running on a holiday schedule with extra inbound trains for those headed to the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Both will have extra outbound trains in the afternoon to get you home. Long Island Railroad will do the same on its Far Rockaway, Montauk, Port Jefferson and Port Washington Branches. Staten Island Railroad will be on a weekend schedule.

At the parade, check out the new Kool-Aid Man balloon. “Ohhh yeah!”

On Friday, Metro North will be on a Saturday schedule with extra service taking shoppers into Manhattan in the morning and back out in the afternoon and evening. The railroad is calling the arrangement its Shoppers’ Special. It will be in effect on Saturdays and Sundays from November 20 to December 26 (except Christmas Day.) Metro North is also recommending that families consider purchasing a ten-trip off-peak ticket at 15 percent discount. The tickets can be used by everyone in a party and are available at ticket vending machines.

Off-peak fares will be in effect all day Friday on Long Island Railroad, which will be running on a full weekday schedule. NJ Transit will also be on a weekday schedule with extra inbound service on select lines. Staten Island Railroad will run on a regular weekday schedule.

The transit providers say buy your tickets early, if you can, to avoid long lines at the station. And if you're shopping on Friday, remember: your college-age son probably doesn’t need another snowflake sweater.

Bridges and tunnels are sure to be jammed. AAA is predicting that traffic will be up nationwide by more than 11 percent. In the city, alternate side of the street parking and meters will be suspended for Thanksgiving, but back in force on Friday. Beware.

The bottom line is whenever you travel, your mode of transportation is likely to be crowded. Metro North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders says her line alone should carry 25% more passengers on Wednesday, a spike of 90-95,000 people. She also says to expect few empty-handed travelers in Grand Central Station. That day, almost everyone will be toting “pies, packages and dogs.”