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scrb11 Oct 14th, 2010 11:01 AM

JFK to Penn Station with luggage?
Flying in on 11/22, arriving at 3:05 PM.

In the past, I've just used shared shuttle services, because they were inexpensive and didn't have to worry about transfers. They got you right to the door.

Downside was that you might have to wait until a couple of other passengers were dropped off in various parts of Manhattan. The other thing is that arriving in the afternoon from SFO, you hit rush-hour traffic and the trip from JFK to Midtown took 90-120 minutes before I'd be dropped off.

So Google Maps shows light rail to Jamaica station and then a train to Penn Station. Then maybe a taxi to the hotel on 26th and 6th.

The question is, how easy is it to roll luggage through these various transit modes, at that time of the day?

Google Maps indicates the whole trip would be about an hour (actually, it calculated the time for midday, not the late afternoon).

SuperShuttle is $19 each way so presumably, taking the 2 rails and taxis wouldn't be much cheaper, if at all. But faster despite the potential hassle of lugging luggage through?

ellenem Oct 14th, 2010 11:11 AM

AirTrain from JFK to Jamaica station has elevators and escalators.

At Jamaica Station, there are elevators an escalators from the AirTrain to the LIRR platforms.

At NY Penn Station, there are escalators to street level. There are also elevators, but they are more difficult to find. Head for the 7th Ave/32nd St exit.

Your hotel (Fashion 26, from another thread) is on 26th St between 6th and 7th Ave, closer to 7th Ave. I would just walk the 6.5 blocks from Penn Station to the hotel.

scrb11 Oct 14th, 2010 04:09 PM

Thanks for the info. about the elevators and escalators.

What about turnstiles and how full are the trains? Are they full that luggage would be a problem?

Looks like I would be able to buy a Per-Ride MetroCard at JFK before boarding the AirTrain.

Then use it also for the LIRR, if I fill it enough? Sounds like $5 for AirTrain and $8 for LIRR.

Of course, walking will depend on the weather. But even if it isn't raining, maybe dragging luggage 7 blocks isn't a cakewalk if it's crowded?

nytraveler Oct 14th, 2010 04:52 PM

There are no turnstiles. The Long Island RR at Jamaica will come in crowded and at that time of day you may or may not get a seat. the trip isn't long and I would stand near the door with your luggage. (Only small bags can fit on overhead racks and there is no way I would leave my luggage alone at the end of the car. You will need to ask the conductor which end of the platform to go to in order to have an escalator from the train platform to the ticket selling floor, then to the street.

travelbuff Oct 14th, 2010 05:07 PM

The LIRR is a separate ticket, than the metrocard, I think. You can get a metro card for travel around the city on subway and bus.

The LIRR you can get a ticket into Manhattan at Jamacia station.

ellenem Oct 14th, 2010 05:29 PM

You buy your MetroCard AFTER riding the AirTrain to Jamaica Station. You must buy the card in order to pay to leave through the "turnstiles" (more like gates that open) to get OUT of the AirTrain station. To exit follow the signs through doors to the left that place you on a bridge that crosses over all the LIRR tracks. It is open air so you will be able to see the tracks below. There are ticket machines on this bridge level from which you can buy your LIRR ticket to Penn Station and then head down to the platform.

Nytraveler's info about luggage storage on the train is good. You might snag an "accessible" seat near the door that has room for a wheelchair and flip-down seat if not wheelchair. With the seat flipped down, your luggage could sit beside you easily. I have used this seat myself when traveling with luggage.

Each arriving platform at Penn Station has an escalator or elevator, but it might mean walking a bit along the platform to find it. There will be signs pointing the way, but it might be tricky to see the signs depending on the stairwells and other obstructions on the particular platform. Often trains arrive at Penn Station on the platform that serves tracks 20 and 21, but there is no rule.

Penn Station is a confusing station because three major train companies (LIRR, NJ Transit, and Amtrak) as well as two subway lines converge there. There are two station levels where people buy tickets and wait, and then the track level below so some stairways go up from the tracks to the lower level and some to the upper level. Wherever you end up, look for signage for 7th Avenue.

People in New York, especially the neighborhood in which you are traveling, are not lingering on the sidewalks. They will be walking purposefully to get somewhere and will probably not be in big groups that might block your way. Once clear of the block by Penn Station, I wouldn't expect the sidewalk to be blocked with hordes of people. Take a taxi if you like, but at that time of day the wait for a taxi will probably be longer than the walk.

scrb11 Oct 14th, 2010 06:48 PM

OK, I'd read that AirTrain is run by the MTA, as is the subway? So there are examples about buying a $7 MetroCard to pay for the AirTrain and the subway ride.

But LIRR is a different system.

I do want to get the $8.50 fun pass for a day or two but understand that the unlimited MetroCard does not work for AirTrain, so I guess for the trips to and from JFK, I get separate ones.

Do unused credit on the pay-per-ride MetroCards ever expire? Say I don't visit NY again for another couple of years and happen to have some unused credit from a previous trip.

ellenem Oct 14th, 2010 08:33 PM

The subway is $2.25, not $2.00 for a single fare.

Unless you plan to ride a subway or bus more than 4 times in one day, a Fun Pass ($8.25) may be no more economical than a Regular MetroCard that you put a certain amount of money on for your stay, and pay per ride. "From the MTA site: "Put $8 or more on your card and receive a 15 percent bonus. For example, a $20 purchase gives you $23 on your card. 10 trips for the price of 9, with $.50 balance." If you put $8 on a card, the 15% bonus is $1.25, which means you get a total value added of $9.25 which is 4 full fares. The Regular MetroCard will work for the AirTrain.

Yes, the cards expire. there is an expiration date printed on the back.

At your arrival time, catching a LIRR train from Jamaica to Penn, the fare to Penn is at Off-Peak rates ($5.75, not $8.00) because it is in the opposite direction of the Peak commuting trains heading away from Manhattan at that time.

scrb11 Oct 15th, 2010 06:27 AM

OK Thanks much.

I'm hoping the weather is okay to make it to Brooklyn a couple of times. So that might justify the Fun Pass.

Also there's a 6-hour walking tour I'm thinking of doing, where you have to come with a Fun Pass.

ellenem Oct 15th, 2010 06:34 AM

The 1-Day Fun Pass may be just the thing you need for your situation. If you were here for 4 days, than a 7-day pass would be better than buying 4 1-Day passes. seems like you've looked at the options for your plans.

Keep in mind, the 1-Day Pass is NOT a 24-hour pass. Once you begin using it, it is good only until 3AM the following day. For example, if you start using it at 7PM, it is only good for 8 hours, until 3AM.

ggreen Oct 15th, 2010 10:02 PM

The transfer from the AirTrain to LIRR is very easy; the AirTrain was created with travelers with luggage in mind, so it's easy to roll your suitcase in/out its doors. When you get off at Jamaica, turn to the left to get your Metrocard and go through the gates; the vending machines will be on your right just before the gates. At this machine, I'd buy just the amount you need to exit the AirTrain.

After you go through the gates, the door out to the LIRR is on the left. There is an LIRR ticket vending machine immediately on the left after you pass through the door; it looks like the Metrocard machines, only smaller. During the transaction for your LIRR ticket, the machine will ask if you want to add a Metrocard to your purchase, so you can do a 2-in-1 transaction here. The machines take debit and credit cards as well as cash. Also note that the westbound trains arrive on the lowest-numbered platforms, farthest from the AirTrain door: make sure you get on a Penn Station bound one or you might end up in Brooklyn earlier than you anticipated!

By contrast to the recently renovated, light and airy Jamaica station, the platforms at Penn are dingy and poorly lit. You'll be "reverse commuting" so the crush won't be too bad, but expect it to be slow-going regardless. (I usually end up dragging my suitcase up whatever staircase is closest rather than wait for my claustrophobia to kick in!)

Unless you really have a problem wheeling or carrying your luggage 5 or 6 blocks (a quarter mile), I highly recommend walking to your hotel rather than taking a cab. As others have said, follow the signs inside the station towards 7th Avenue. Once up the escalator to street level, turn right - and remember, the worst crush of people is right there at the station entrance, it gets much better once you move a block or two south! Walk down 7th Ave (same direction as traffic) and cross the avenue to head east towards your hotel.

scrb11 Nov 14th, 2010 11:37 AM

Is it worth taking the 1 train from Penn to 28th Street station?

Are the stairs to the subway train at Penn Station and at the 28th street station not too bad?

I planned to travel light but I got some junk to take to a relative dumped on me so I will take a 26-inch case instead of a carryon.

Seems also that a week MetroCard makes sense at $27 than buying 3 or 4 individual daily MetroCards.

ellenem Nov 14th, 2010 01:19 PM

Is you 26-inch case a rolling case?

Penn Station is located between 7th and 8th Avenues between 31st and 33rd Streets. It's not worth it to me to wrestle that size case up some stairs, wait for a train, onto the train, up more stairs . . . I'd rather just take escalators all the way out of Penn Station and roll the 3-4 blocks to 28th St. Follow signs to 7th Ave 32nd St exit.

scrb11 Nov 14th, 2010 02:34 PM

Yes it is on wheels.

That's what I figured, it gets me only a couple of blocks closer but I thought the transfer to the metro might be tricky.

I can lift it for a couple of flights on both ends but it's probably more tricky on the metro trains themselves.

nytraveler Nov 14th, 2010 04:55 PM

You don;t want to take luggage on the subway at rush hours. Definitely head up to the street and pull the case. In that area the subway will be 1) mobbed and 2) have a huge number of people getting on and off - so a 26" bag may not fit on the train at all (and may well have people cursing you for trying to squish it on).

scrb11 Nov 14th, 2010 05:42 PM

That's what I figured. Thanks!

Austin Nov 14th, 2010 06:40 PM

scrb - I usually take a carry on. Last trip a family with 2 kids and 3 large pieces of luggage were at the subway with me. They managed well. I thik some of this will depend on the time of day, the size of your luggage and your abiltiy to maneuver.

ggreen Nov 15th, 2010 07:53 AM

To add on to ellenem and nytraveler's advice, as a transit hub, Penn is itself (basically) designed to accommodate people with luggage: wide corridors, escalators, etc. Like a lot of local subway stops, the 28th Street station is not.

When you come into Penn on the LIRR and once you get from the platform to the station proper, you will be on the LIRR/subway level of the station. Amtrak and NJ Transit are a level above, and the street yet another flight up. Without knowing which platform you will be on, you may be in different parts of the LIRR level, but here are some directional cues:

* The far eastern end is closest to the 1/2/3 subway entrance. The only McDonald's on the LIRR level is adjacent to this subway entrance. Also at this end are the LIRR ticket windows and a large arrivals/departures board. Opposite the ticket windows area, there is an exit to the street with a long escalator up. While this is temptingly easy, I advise not exiting here, as it will put you on the very busy corner of W 34th Street and 7th Ave -- I don't like navigating it even without luggage! (If you do use this exit, turn right and then turn right again almost immediately to go down 7th Ave in the direction you need.)

* Instead, go to the right of the LIRR ticket windows and take the escalator up. At the top, turn left down the wide corridor to walk to the 7th Ave exit.

* The far western end of the LIRR level is underneath 8th Avenue and is closest to the A/C/E subway entrances; there is also the only HSBC in the station adjacent to the subway here, and a Starbucks is nearby. At this end, look for the short-ish flight of stairs up labeled "NJ Transit" and/or "Amtrak" above it. This will bring you to the ticketing area for those lines and near the public restrooms. Once there, you will want to cross to the left around the waiting areas and then down the wide corridor mentioned above (follow the signs for 7th Ave). At the far end, take the escalator up to street level; you will be on 7th Ave between 32nd and 31st Streets. Turn right to continue downtown.

* You might also exit the LIRR train more or less in the middle of the LIRR level; some of these are down a corridor perpendicular to the main area described above. You'll know this perpendicular corridor because it has almost no shops. Either: (A) follow signs up the escalator there to the Amtrak/NJ Transit level (will put you under the main arrivals/departures board near the ticketing and waiting areas), or (B) walk out to the main LIRR corridor (west will be to your left).

ellenem Nov 15th, 2010 10:13 AM

The exit ggreen describes is indeed the 7th Ave at 32nd St exit.

scrb11 Nov 26th, 2010 07:47 AM

this worked out pretty well. Actually got out on 33rd and 7th exit but it was okay.

On the return trip, I intended to use the LIRR and AirTrain again but it started drizzling and it was cold and a Super Shuttle pulled up to my hotel.

So rather than drag my luggage through the rain and cold, I hopped on the shuttle.

I had heard that there were extra LIRR trains after the parade so I didn't know if there was crowded trains around that time, 2 PM.

But the shuttle ride did take about 20 minutes to pick up two additional passengers downtown.

Then it hit a lot of traffic after getting off Manhattan. Again not sure if the traffic was typical for that time of day or it was because of the after-parade traffic.

All in all, LIRR and AirTrain is a good option, as long as you don't have too far to go from Penn.

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