Heading to NYC for Labor Day? Why driving your car into the city is the best choice (this year)

“NYC” by Frank Wittig is licensed under Creative Commons

I know what you are thinking.  Really, drive into NYC? But hear me out.

Yes, there will be tolls to enter. Yes, driving in Manhattan can be a bit crazy with all the pedestrians giving scant care to “don’t walk” signs, bicycles driving right next to you, and those new pedicabs meandering about the streets. But, if you drive carefully and keep a close eye on all your fellow travelers who inadvertently cross your path, you may find that it was more than worth it. And here’s why: the parking

Monday through Friday its likely not worth you time to try and drive into Manhattan. You can expect long delays getting through the Holland or Lincoln tunnels, the tolls are heavy ($14.75-17), and then once you get to your destination, you have to pay a fortune to park. That changes some on the weekends when traffic is less, tolls are still high, but parking is typically a bit cheaper. On Saturday some spaces open up as some of the parking rules apply only Monday – Friday such as areas some areas designated for truck loading only during weekdays. 

On Sunday’s its even better. There is once again even less traffic on Sunday than compared to Saturday. Additionally, drivers get one more benefit. Parking meters are not in effect on Sunday giving drivers lots of curb spots throughout the city to park your car for long hours for free while you visit the big apple.

“Central Park” by Nancye Smith is licensed under Creative Commons

However on Labor Day, it’s even better. The city on Labor Day and a few select major legal holidays throughout the year, suspends its parking rules enforcement for most, but not all, parking restrictions. Additionally, parking meters are also suspended, so spots you do find are free! On these days, the city allows you to park in areas where there are restrictions against stopping, standing or parking, unless such rules are in effect seven days a week. So for example, if the parking sign reads “No standing anytime” then you can’t park there. Again, if the rules restrict parking, standing or stopping seven days a week, don’t park there. But if its only restricted for some of the days, then you can park there. This is a game changer and effectively means that many, many more spots that were restricted are available to park in and at no cost.

Additionally, when compared to other options in bus, or light rail / PATH combo to NYC. The fares to enter the city are similar. The Holland or Lincoln Tunnel toll is $14.75 – 17.00 at peak hours and is only a one way cost for travelers entering Manhattan.

“High Line park NYC – Manhattan – New York City” by David Berkowitz is licensed under Creative Commons

A bus will cost $4.50 per adult each way and assuming the port authority isn’t your final destination, another $2.90 a ticket for a subway ride. All in that is $7.40 one way or $14.80 for the round trip for just one adult.

A light rail / PATH combo will run you $2.25 for the light rail and an additional $2.60-2.75 for the PATH fare depending on number of tickets purchased. Again assuming the World Trade center or 33rd Street isn’t your final destination, then additional $2.90 tap to ride a subway is needed. The total cost for one adult is $7.75-7.90 for one way, thus $15.50-15.80 for a round trip.

However, driving into Manhattan at rates comparable to public transit won’t last forever. With NYC’s congestion pricing set to go into effect next Spring, the cost to drive into Manhattan below 61st Street is expected to go up an additional $9-23. Details are still being worked out and a legal challenge from Governor Murphy is also in play, but pricier trips look to be on the horizon. While there still is a few major legal holidays between now and then with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day being recognized, none typically offers as great of weather as a Labor Day. Like this summer, enjoy this opportunity before its gone.