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PATH train from Newark to Penn Station, NYC

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We're planning a day trip into NYC on Friday and are looking for an alternative option for getting into the city.

We are coming from NorthEast Pennsylvania, on Interstate 80. For years we've been taking the George Washington Bridge to Henry Hudson, getting off at the 79th St Boat Basin and parking in a garage a block off of Broadway (2 blocks from the Subway and Zabar's... we enjoy the Upper West Side).

Last time we tried taking the Lincoln Tunnel, which I didn't like at all.

Now we're looking at taking Route 280 into Newark / Harrison, and picking up the PATH train into Penn Station (we're heading to Madison Square Garden for the day).

QUESTIONS??
We will be arriving mid morning, after the commuter rush. Will we have a problem finding parking?

There is a Newark and a Harrison train station, both within a few miles of each other, which are both accessible off of I-280. Any opinion on beginning our journey from either station?

We'll be leaving NYC / Newark around 8:00-10:00 pm. Is the neighborhood around the train stations safe, if we need to walk several blocks to get to our parking garage/lot? I'll be travelling with my husband and another male friend.

Any other alternatives for getting into the city (coming from the Poconos), particularly if we can avoid high parking fees, tolls for crossing the river, and sitting in traffic?

Thanks for any input.

Robyn :)>-

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