What you need to know about the big Thanksgiving getaway today

Grand Central Station (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Today’s the biggest travel day of the year, as thousands of New Yorkers bolt work early on the eve of Thanksgiving.

Whether you’re heading to relatives for the big dinner or a Thanksgiving Eve party with friends tonight, expect to encounter lots of foot and vehicular traffic along the way. Mass transit remains the best option, and the MTA announced plans to help get everyone around safely and speedily.

“The MTA moves 8.5 million people on a normal weekday, and we’re preparing to handle new customers at new times throughout the coming weekend,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said. “The MTA’s digital trip planning and real-time information tools make it easier to travel with us.”

Here’s what the MTA has in store for customers today:

LIRR and Metro-North

For the Wednesday afternoon commute, the LIRR will be running 12 additional trains out of Penn Station between 12:45 and 4:15 p.m., including four on the Babylon Branch; three on the Port Jefferson/Huntington Branch; two on the Ronkonkoma Branch; and one additional train each on the Far Rockaway, Port Washington and Montauk Branches.

Metro-North Railroad will also run 18 early getaway trains departing Grand Central Terminal between 12:45 and 4:15 p.m., including 10 on the New Haven Line, five on the Hudson Line and three on the Harlem Line.

The commuter rail lines will be offering tickets at off-peak prices at all times for the entire Thanksgiving weekend, starting Thursday, Nov. 28, and continuing through Sunday, Dec. 1. Customers are urged to buy tickets in advance. Children ages 5 to 11 can ride the rails for a “Family Fare” of $1 per ticket, when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.

LaGuardia Airport

The MTA and Port Authority are offering free rides on the Q70 bus (LaGuardia Link) all this week until Monday, Dec. 2. The Q70 connects with the 7 train and LIRR at the Woodside-61st Street station, and the E, F, M and R trains at Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue. The LaGuardia Link stops at all the airport’s terminals.

New York City Transit

Subway service is normal Wednesday, but Staten Island residents can expect to find additional service on the Staten Island Railway during the afternoon. The MTA will run additional SIR trains out of the St. George Ferry Terminal beginning at 2:30 p.m., with one express train and one local train awaiting every arriving ferry until 7:50 p.m.

On Thanksgiving Day, subways and buses will operate on a Sunday schedule; the Staten Island Railway will run on a Saturday schedule. 

Getting to the parade

Mass transit is the best way to get to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday morning. The closest subway stops for the best viewing points near the start are the 72nd Street station (1, 2, 3 trains), 79th Street (1), 81st Street (C), and 59th Street-Columbus Circle (1, A, C, D). Trains will skip the 72nd Street station on the C line and the 57th Street stop on the F line between 7 and 11 a.m.

To accommodate parade-goers, the LIRR will run six extra westbound trains from Long Island between 6 and 7:45 a.m. (two each on the Babylon and Ronkonkoma Branches, and one each on the Montauk and Port Jefferson Branches), and 11 extra eastbound trains from Penn Station between 11 a.m. and 1:35 p.m. (four each on the Babylon and Ronkonkoma Branches, two on the Port Jefferson/Huntington Branch and one on the Montauk Branch). 

Metro-North is also providing additional city-bound service before the parade and extra trains outbound afterward through the mid-afternoon.

Black Friday and the weekend

Subways and buses, along with the LIRR, will run on a regular weekday schedule Black Friday, Nov. 29. Some express bus routes will operate on altered schedules.  Visit new.mta.info/schedules/bus/scpecial for details. Metro-North will run on an expanded Saturday schedule.

Regular weekend schedules will be in effect Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, respectively.

For more information on holiday service changes, visit mta.info.

Robert Pozarycki