In the Suitcase: Much Ado about (driving into) Manhattan

I do this every time I go into Manhattan, even when I lived there. I think, you know what, I’m going to drive there. I’m going to deal with the snarled traffic on the FDR and try this new trick by taking the Willis Avenue bridge, or if I’m coming from New Jersey, I’ll be lucky and there won’t be any traffic going through the tunnels. And then, I’ll find parking within reasonable walking distance to my destination. Of course I’m always, ALWAYS fooling myself.

Tip: don’t try to bring a car into Manhattan. Take public transportation.

When I lived in Manhattan, I compared it to Hotel California – you can check out anytime but you can never leave. And no wonder. If you’ve ever tried to leave Manhattan through the tunnels or the George Washington bridge, it can be so awful that you consider giving up and staying stuck on this island forever.

Getting into Manhattan costs money. How much money? Well, if you’re from New Jersey or south, you get to pay $8 to cross the Hudson. $8!! And about 30 minutes of your life sitting in traffic waiting to go through. And, as my friend Grace recently pointed out, you risk your life each time you go through those tunnels, eeking through those tunnels like toothpaste in a tube. Who knows what could happen down there, under the Hudson River, with nowhere to swim or run? I tried not to think about it as I edged my way into the city this past Memorial Day.

Then there’s the issue of parking. You can circle for hours, literally, especially since you can’t turn on red anywhere in the city and pedestrians take up all your green light time. If you do score a spot, you have to make sure it’s not a street-sweeping day, or a meter that will expire within an hour and there will be a meter maid standing there waiting for your meter to tick to 0. She’ll probably have your ticket written out in advance. Then you are always worrying whether someone has broken into your car and/ or driven it away. Or, you can park your car for $35 for the first few hours in some lot.

Heed my advice. Take the subway/ PATH/ Metro North/ Long Island Railroad/ New Jersey Transit/ Amtrak/ the bus into Manhattan. You can even park & ride. Here are some links to those forms of public transit.

PATH (to/from New Jersey)

Metro North Railroad (to/ from Westchester or as my cousin Sean says, the “Bestchester”, Connecticut and upstate)

Long Island Railroad (to/from Queens and Long Island, or as my friend Steve calls it, “Strong Island”)

New Jersey Transit (to/from NJ, duh)

Boltbus (to/from NY, Boston, Philly, Baltimore and DC)

Amtrak (Eastern Corridor and nationwide)

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