Your 2022 guide to NYC travel this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend is fast approaching and with it comes New York’s busiest day of the year.

The state should set a record for the number of travelers during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday in 2022, according to forecasts by AAA and IHS Markit. That includes more than 3.5 million travelers — and 60,000 more than last year — which would be the highest number since tracking began in 2000.

Traffic expert “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz told Gothamist Monday that drivers should be better prepared for the holiday weekend as auto traffic in the metro area has officially returned to pre-pandemic levels. What’s even worse, he said, is that truck volume is 10% higher than 2019.

“So it’s like we have 105-110% of the traffic we had in 2019,” Schwartz said.

For those who can’t avoid traveling by car, New Yorkers should expect a “wild week on the road,” according to Schwartz.

Here’s what Schwartz said for those who can’t avoid car rides this week to know:

Tuesday and Wednesday are both “warning days”.

Escaping town ahead of Thanksgiving may have been easier on Tuesdays in the past, but Schwartz said enough people have changed their patterns since then that it’s likely to stall on both days.

He said city drivers should expect three to five mile backups at the George Washington Bridge and backups on all roads leading to airports.

“Tuesday has become the new Wednesday when it comes to a Thanksgiving week getaway,” Schwartz said. “If you’re taking a plane… allow an extra 45 minutes to an hour to get there. Especially if you drive in the afternoon.”

The city has also included Tuesday and Wednesday’s dates in its “Gridlock Alert” daily calendar, set aside for the busiest days of the year.

Wednesday remains the busiest day of the year whether you’re coming or going from NYC, he said.

“What is unusual on Wednesday is that as many people are leaving New York as are coming into New York. So you get it both ways,” Schwartz said. “We don’t have a one-way rush hour — it’s an omnidirectional rush hour.”

The AAA and IHS Markit forecast states that 89% of New Yorkers are expected to travel by car in 2022.

Thanksgiving Day Parade road closures Wednesday and Thursday

The street closures in Manhattan for the Thanksgiving Day Parade begin Wednesday to inflate the balloons and last through Thursday afternoon. A full list of roads that will be closed can be found here and a map of the parade route here.

Schwartz said Thursday mornings are a good time to drive — unless you’re near the parade. Be sure to avoid the Lincoln Tunnel around noon, he said. In the afternoon it should start again.

“There’s an unusual time on Thanksgiving when it’s okay to drive, and that’s between 5 and 7 p.m.,” Schwartz said. “That’s because everyone eats dinner then. So if you could somehow From Grandma’s house between 17:00 and 19:00, do this. You will have it much easier.”

And as for the day after the holiday, Schwartz said that Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for parking tickets in the city, as many people think it’s a parking holiday, many unknowingly parking illegally.

The best way to avoid gridlock is by public transport

With roads congested and airports busy, Schwartz said it might be wise to stick to public transit.

“That said, it’s a wonderful week to be a New Yorker, but if you could be a New Yorker taking the subway, you’d be a lot better off,” Schwartz said.

To lighten some of the burden of vacation travel, NJ Transit said it’s adding extra service this weekend and allowing kids to ride for free.

Find service MTA service changes here.

In this way you avoid downtime after the holidays

Saturday is a good day for flying and driving, and Sunday is the complete opposite of Wednesday, Schwartz said.

“People are coming back to the city and people are leaving the city,” he said. “And we have a football game at MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m. but it ends around 4:30 p.m. So be careful when you come back, avoid Route 3.”

Other tips, he added, included avoiding the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge, particularly between 4pm and 6pm, to avoid traffic at football games.

“And if you think we’re done with the shutdown, forget it,” he said. “Nov. 30 is the [Rockefeller Center] tree lighting.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *