Update: A deal was struck, and the strike is off for now...
The L-I-R-Rmageddon is upon us, and it’s going to be bad. For those NY’ers who don’t think this is going to affect you, think again; subways are going to be packed, and parking will be nonexistent. For us on Long Island, the traffic will be horrendous. At this point, I guess about a 90% chance of this happening, unless some miracle talks happen at the midnight hour Saturday night.
Your preparations should have started already. However, if they have not, check out the below tips and resources to get a jump on planning.
Top tips to survive the LIRR strike.
1. Fill up before Monday: The chances of gas prices skyrocketing on the island are a real threat as demand increases. Gas lines are no fun, and gougers are only caught after you need the gas. Also, always remember to look at the cash/credit price, as some unscrupulous gas station add dollars to the credit price assuming you don’t look.
2. Familiarize yourself with the MTA’S suggested action plans, which include the following:
o Buses - the MTA clearly states that “As shuttle bus service is limited, please consider it only as a last resort.” Despite this, they will be offering buses at park and ride locations to major NYC subways. More information about this option can be found here, including maps.
o Nassau Residents can use the NICE bus system to get to subway stops. Click here forinfo
o Get to know the subways, and get comfortable with the fact that a stranger will probably be rubbing up against you.
o Subwaymap - Get to know this
o The MTA also has a trip planner tool which will help you to find alternative transportation: MTA Trip Planner tool
o The MTA’s contingency plan is also suggesting to work from home, take vacation or stay with friends.They also suggest carpooling, just in case you wanted to spend more time with your co-workers
3. Let your bosses know: Work from home, work different hours, and plan to be late.
4. Download a traffic app to plan your route and know what incidents lies ahead. I have a post that reviews some of the best here.
5. Explore your routes: Let’s talk about choke points, and no, not the type that require a safe word. I’m talking where the worst traffic will be. Choke points for traffic will be all across the Island, usually where East/West arterials converge on North/South ones. This includes the Cross Island Parkway, and especially the RFK/Triborough Bridge, 59th St. Bridge and Midtown Tunnel. Better route options will be the Clearview, the Wantagh and the Northern State.
Other choke points include:
· Brooklyn bridge and all approaches
· Major Deegan / 87 N on-ramp to GWB. I might actually suggest the Cross Bronx over the Bruckner, because Nassau traffic will likely take 87N from the Grand Central. But keep an eye on the traffic (88 AM and 1010 AM) as it’s also likely people will just blindly follow their GPS and ignore the Bruckner completely.
· 25 and LIE merge, including 25A access points
· Cross Island Parkway
· Belt Parkway and i678 interchange
· LIE / BQE /25 approaches to the 59th St. / Queensborough bridge
· Try the Throgs Neck over the Whitestone. Lane closures on the Whitestone will snarl traffic
· 135N to LIE merge
· Southern state to Cross Island merge
6. Take it slow: most of the people who take the train haven’t commuted by car in years, and aren’t familiar with the pace and road rules, such as merging, or know which lanes go where. Expect to see lots of fender benders and break downs as people attempt to take their station cars a long distance. There will also be infinite amounts of road rage, and general foolishness as these people adapt to once again getting behind the wheel. So stay calm, and get into the mindset to expect traffic, so you wont be mad when you’re stuck in it.
7. Leave early…or late. Actually, it doesn’t matter, you are screwed anyway, really.
8. If you don’t have an EZ Pass, get one immediately. Carry exact change on you if you think its 1997 and you still carry cash to the tolls. Also note that there are lane restrictions; for example, lower level of the GWB is EZ Pass only, whereas the upper level has all the cash lanes. You would think the MTA/PA would open up the tolls on their bridges to ease congestion because they are not paying their workers salaries, but that’s a pipe dream. Take the time to familiarize yourself with new toll prices as well; Most bridges are between $7.50 and $13.50.
9. Pre-pay for a parking spot if you are commuting to NYC: parking in Manhattan will be as scarce as Hoboken on a Friday night. Save yourself the headache and try to pre-arrange a parking spot in a garage. Expect to pay through the nose.
10. Bring a cell phone charger in your car: GPS, navigation and traffic apps blow through batteries pretty quickly