Commentary on transportation in Connecticut and the Northeast by JIM CAMERON, for 19 years a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council.
Jim is also the founder of a new advocacy effort: www.CommuterActionGroup.org
Disclaimer: his comments are only his own. All contents of this blog are (c) Cameron Communications Inc
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July 22, 2013
Saving Money on Metro-North
(Author’s Note:In the 10+ years I’ve been writing this
column, no single article has gained greater readership than this one… almost 10,00 click-thru’s on our blog alone!So
here’s an update on your
Whether you’re a daily commuter, an
occasional day-tripper or have friends visiting from out of town this summer,
everyone can save money when you go into NYC on Metro-North by following this
if your employer subscribes to this great service, which allows workers to buy
up to $245 per month in transit using pre-tax dollars.If you’re in the upper tax brackets, that’s a
huge savings on commutation.A recent
survey shows that 45% of all New York City companies offer TransitChek which can be used on
trains, subways and even ferries.
OFF-PEAK:If you can arrive at Grand Central weekdays
after 10 am and can avoid the 4 pm – 8 pm peak return hours, you can save 25%.Off-peak’s also in effect on weekends and
holidays.Your train may be less
crowded, too.These tickets are good for
60 days after purchase.
TICKETS IN ADVANCE:Buy your ticket on the train and you’ll
pay the conductor a $5.75 - $6.50 “service charge”… a mistake you’ll make only
once! (Seniors: don’t worry, you’re
exempt and can buy on-board anytime without penalty). There are ticket machines
at most stations, but the cheapest tickets are those bought online.And go for the ten-trip tickets (Peak or
Off-Peak) to save an additional 15%.They can be shared among passengers and are good for six months.
FAMILY & SENIOR FARES:Buy tickets for your kids (ages 5 – 11) in advance and save 50% over
adult fares.Or pay $1 per kid on board
(up to four kids traveling with an adult, but not in morning peak hours).Seniors, the disabled and those on Medicare
get 50% off the one way peak fare.But
you must have proper ID
and you can’t go in the morning rush hours.
STATION PARKING:Even stations that require parking
permits usually offer free parking after 5 pm, on nights and weekends.Check with your local town.
STATION PARKING: If you're a regular commuter, don’t
waste money parking at comparatively “expensive” station garages like South
Norwalk ($ 10 per day) or Stamford ($10 for 8 hours, M-F).Instead, park at the day-lots in Darien or Noroton
Heights for just $3. But be sure to pay at the pay station before boarding the train.
Once you’re in the city, you can save even
about the old subway tokens.These nifty
cards can be bought at most stations (even combined with your Metro-North
ticket) and offer some incredible deals:put $5.50 on a card (bought with cash, credit or
debit card) and you get a 5% bonus.Swipe your card to ride the subway and you’ll get a free transfer to a
connecting bus.You can buy unlimited ride
MetroCards for a week ($31) or a month ($116.50).There’s now even an ExpressPay MetroCard
the refills itself like an EZ-Pass.
IT CHEAPER TO DRIVE?:Despite being a mass transit advocate, I’m
the first to admit that there may be times when it’s truly cheaper to drive to
Manhattan than take the train, especially with three or more passengers.You can avoid bridge tolls by taking the
Major Deegan to the Willis
/ Third Ave. bridge, but I can’t help you with the traffic you’ll have to
endure.Check out www.bestparking.com to find a great list
of parking lots and their rates close to your destination.Or drive to Shea Stadium and take the # 7 subway
The bottom line is that it isn’t cheap
going into “the city”.But with a little
planning and some insider tips, you can still save money.Enjoy! JOIN THE COMMUTER ACTION GROUP: Just click here for more info