Even on a normal day, New York can be a huge pain to navigate. But with one million visitors flooding into Times Square, huge concerts and drunk people everywhere you look, the task can be even more daunting. Here’s your guide to managing the public transportation system on Thursday and Friday:
New Year’s Eve
All hands are on deck for the holiday with the buses operating, for the most part, on regular weekday schedules, additional service on several of the Subway lines, and the LIRR and Metro North trains adding extra trips to their schedules. Yet, this embarrassment of riches hardly makes up for Times Square. If you really must go there, then:
The LIRR: Your best bet is to go between 12:43 and 3:48 when an additional 13 trains are heading into Penn Station, but that afternoon and evening there will also be another 20 trains for those looking to go to the MSG Phish concert or love crowding into a spot blocks away from the main action of Times Square (to get ideal ball drop viewing spots you have to go late in the morning or early in the afternoon and just hold your pee for 14 hours.) After midnight there will be 20 extra trains added going from Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal.
Metro North: There will be extra trains both going from and coming into Grand Central Terminal between 12 and 4 that day, so if you get to Times Square and realize you’ve made a huge mistake, go ahead and escape to Yonkers, no judgment. If you do choose to stick around, after midnight there will be additional service.
Buses: Buses in the outer boroughs are mainly unaffected by the holiday, operating as if it were any other Thursday, but in Manhattan M5, M7, M20, M42, M50, and M104 buses may (read: will) be affected, but will resume regular routes as the streets around Times Square re-open after midnight.
Subway: Ugh. The subways in and around Times Square (so, basically every train but the G and the L) run every 8 to 12 minutes until 3am, but exiting the train is where it gets tricky. The northbound 1 train platform at 50th street, and both NQR platforms at 49th, will be closed from 7pm until midnight. The police will start closing off streets adjacent to Times Square to pedestrian traffic between 2 and 3pm, so don’t expect to be able to waltz off the 8th Avenue 42nd street stop on the ACE in the afternoon. Your best bet is to act like a frozen White Walker charging into Westeros: take a train to Columbus Circle and enter Times Square from the north where the defenses are weakest.
New Year’s Day
If for some reason you are not spending the day nursing a hangover in bed (do you think you’re better than us?), and you’re in a rush to get someplace on New Year’s Day, allow for additional travel time. The subways are operating on a Sunday schedule, which, for non-locals reading this, means less trains and some routes operate local or express when they wouldn’t on weekdays.