Amtrak vs Metro North for trip into NYC?

Dec 3rd, 2018, 07:40 AM
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Amtrak vs Metro North for trip into NYC?


We will be in NYC over Easter weekend (starting on the Good Friday). We plan to drive from our city in Canada and leave the car in either Poughkeepsie or Hudson. We will be staying near the Grand Central Terminal so I don't know if it's better to take the Metro North line from Poughkeepsie. It seems like the Hudson train is only Amtrak which goes to Penn station. My husband is concerned about the commuter line since we will have bags for ourselves and our children. And, we can't reserve seats on a specific train. Is it better to take Amtrak (from either town) even if it goes to Penn station and we have to take a cab? Or is Metro North more reliable service?

Is one town better than the other in terms of spending a night on the return? I wouldn't mind checking out a few sites in the Hudson Valley Sunday afternoon before we drive back on the Easter Monday. There seem to be more hotels in Poughkeepsie but it's not as scenic as Hudson?

Thanks in advance!
jacolis is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 08:06 AM
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I don't know the answer to most of your question, but I do know you can't reserve seats on Amtrak.
elberko is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 08:21 AM
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Metro North into GC starts in Poughkeepsie and there is no issue with getting seats together and room for your bags. You can save some $$ by taking an off-peak train (which depart POK after 9am I believe). Since you are staying near CG taking metro north is a better option - you can walk from your train to your hotel in minutes rather than having to get yourselves across town. Arriving into GC is easy as well - no stairs, escalators, or elevators no navigate, just easy wide ramps from your train through the terminal, and up to street level.

Pok vs Hudson. If you're only spending one night, then there is nothing wrong with one of the chain hotels (one Marriott, holiday inn or hilton brands) - Nothing remarkable either, but the location is handy if you're exploring points further north.

If you're looking at other sights south of Poughkeepsie, (eg west point or storm king) then consider taking the train from Beacon station. Also easy to board, and the train won't be full as it's only the 2nd stop on the line. You could get a chain hotel at I-84/Exit 13/Rt9 Fishkill area.

The benefit of Poughkeepsie is that the trains originate there so you can board at your leisure once it pulls into the station.
The benefit of Beacon is it's an easier drive from I87-Thruway and I-84. Six of one, half dozen of another.
J62 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 09:18 AM
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When you buy a ticket on Amtrak it does say you are reserving a seat. It isn't a particular seat number, just that in theory that means you must get one and that they don't oversell tickets versus seats.

I think that's the concern, they want to make sure they get a seat.
Christina is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 01:03 PM
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Hi all,

Thanks for the input. Christina articulated it better than I did! I think with Amtrak you are guaranteed a seat on *that* train (and you can book many months in advance). But since we are travelling on Good Friday at 11 a.m. (and from the starting point), I'm assuming there is no issue with getting seats together.

One question about the train configuration on Metro North - is there space up top to store bags? DH was concerned there would be nowhere to put our bags if it's a commuter train.

On visiting the sights - we will basically have about 22 hours - I thought maybe lunch and the walkway over the Hudson (or other short hike) and one of the historic homes? So I dont know if Beacon or Poughkeepsie is better from that viewpoint We are a family of four with two teenage girls (12 and 14).

Thx again!
jacolis is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 01:28 PM
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Here's a picture of the inside of the MNRR cab. 2 seats on one side, 3 on the other - most rows all face the same direction, but on some trains there may be a row or 2 where you sit face to face with someone - those make for good family rows.

Since you'll be getting on at POK you'd be able to easily pick seats that face forward. Seats on the right side of the train have a better view of the river.
Traveling south from POK, your first real view points will be around Cold Spring or Garrison where you can see West Point across the river.

The overhead rack will hold any bag that would normally go in an airplane overhead storage. You don't need to only use the space over your row - very few people will put anything up there. And you don't need to hyper vigilant - nobody will try to take your bag. Except for a few people who may get off part of the way, most everybody will be riding into Grand Central where the train stops and you can get off at your leisure.

POK is the starting point of the empty train - very few passengers will actually board there so you'll have your pick of seats and overhead space.

For larger bags, what I've done in the past is simply slide it into the row on the 3 seat side, and occupy 2 of the seats, or for 4 of us traveling, use one of the rows where the seats 3 face each other.

You will not be the only passengers with suitcases.

An 11am Friday train will not fill up anywhere enroute, so you won't be depriving anyone of a seat if you use an extra for a bag that doesn't fit overhead.

You can buy tickets ahead of time, but it's not necessary. You can get them at the station when you arrive.
J62 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 01:37 PM
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For sightseeing the or one of the mansions such as FDR or Vanderbilt (both in Hyde Park, just 10min north of POK), staying overnight in POK works well and are easy to get to.

You could also visit the culinary institute of america, and maybe get a lunch there. With kids 12/14 I would not going for dinner. Another dining option (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) is the Eveready diner in Hyde Park. Dinner hour can be busy on weekends. Very prototypical Greek/American diner.
J62 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 01:59 PM
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wow thanks J62! Ok my husband will be reassured!

Silly question but are Good Friday and Easter Sunday days when things will be closed? We would be catching the train to from POK on those days. I dont know if restaurants and sites are closed those days.

jacolis is offline  
Dec 5th, 2018, 10:17 AM
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Amtrak:There is a suitcase rack at end of train car for luggage as well as overhead. Amtrak down the Hidson River from Albany to NYC is a beautiful ride. You will see West Point across the river from two different viewpoints. Beware of husslers at the taxi line outside of Penn Station if you chose Amtrak. Grand Central Teminal is beautifully restored, a huge contrast to Penn Station. I have taken luggage on Mero North many times from NYC to northern suburbs. Easier on Amtrak but not a big problem on Metro North. As mentioned above, on Amtrak you have a seat but it is not assigned, can sit anywhere, any car. Check if there is porter service at the Amtrak station. You will board first and luggage will be stowed for you.
In Poughkeepsie you are not far from FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Dec 5th, 2018, 03:57 PM
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Thank you very much all for your helpful advice. I think we are going to do Metro North from POK since our hotel is around the corner from Grand Central Terminal. The FDR Library and walk across the Hudson look good too. I will see if the CIA restos are open for lunch on the Good Friday. And that diner sounds fun for dinner!
jacolis is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 11:41 PM
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Metro North is usually cheaper, and usually less chance of delay. No problem storing luggage. It's my first choice.
Seamus is online now  
Dec 7th, 2018, 05:38 AM
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You asked about things being closed on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. No to Good Friday but many things do close on Easter Sunday. You should doublecheck any place you plan to go first. Fewer things in NYC close, but in the upstate towns they may.
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 04:03 PM
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Thank you mclaurie. I will confirm closer to the date what will be open on the Sunday.
jacolis is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 02:46 PM
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Another tip for Metro North: should you be lucky enough to be over 65, you can ask for a senior fare, which is half the full fare peak fare. Some limitations, see below.

Seniors/Disabled Persons/ Medicare Recipients
Fifty percent off the full one-way peak fare. You must be 65 years of age or older to qualify as a senior citizen. Proper identification required: driver's license, Medicare card, or MTA Reduced-Fare MetroCard/Disabled Persons identification card. A birth certificate can also be used, but only in conjunction with another form of identification. Not valid on inbound morning peak trains. Senior citizens, disabled persons, and Medicare recipients who show the proper identification may purchase tickets on board the train without paying the higher on-board price. Valid for 60 days (including day of purchase).
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