Everything You Need to Know About Commuting into NYC

A woman checks her phone during her morning commute into Manhattan.

Commuting to New York City has gotten a bad reputation. Sure, it takes some getting used to, but navigating the public transit options on your daily commute is actually easy and doable if you follow commuting tips!

Pack the Night Before

You’ll want to get into the habit of packing everything you need the night before. Make sure all of your notebooks, binders, electronics, and food are all ready to go. Mornings can be difficult, so taking care of all of your packing and prep work the night before can eliminate some of your early morning stress. 

Bring All Your Chargers

This tip goes hand in hand with packing the night before, but it’s important enough to qualify as its own tip. With cell phones, laptops, tablets, wireless headphones, and countless other electronics, everyone wants to be plugged in and connected. There’s nothing worse than getting all the way to work and realizing you don’t have one of your chargers. 

Make sure to pack every charger for all of your electronic devices! Being stuck at work with a dead cell phone will make your post-work commute home horrendous, so make sure you always have them with you. 

Dress Comfortably 

Your work probably has a dress code that you have to follow, but that doesn’t mean you need to wear your work clothes during your long commute. You’ll be doing a fair amount of standing and walking, so you’ll want to think about your shoes. 

Many people’s feet get tired in dress shoes or high heels. If you’re one of those people, consider packing your work shoes in your bag the night before and wearing comfortable sneakers in the morning. When you get to your office, switch into your work shoes and toss your sneakers into your bag. Your feet will thank you!

Check the Weather the Night Before

The weather can cause many delays to the train and bus routes. The traffic gets heavier and it brings a sense of anxiety to the passengers. If you notice that it’s expected to rain or snow the night before, you’ll want to give yourself some extra time in the morning. Plan on getting to your bus stop or NJ Transit train a little early, so that if there is a delay or slow down, your work day won’t be affected by it. 

Check the Bus Schedule and Traffic Patterns When You Wake Up

This is a great habit to get yourself into. The weather isn’t the only thing that can cause delays. Sometimes there are accidents or slow downs in the Lincoln Tunnel getting into Port Authority. 

Obviously you don’t want to be late for work, so checking your bus schedules and traffic patterns as soon as you wake up in the morning is a great way to make sure your commute from New Jersey to New York is painless every day. 

Check Your Seat Before Getting Up

Whether it’s a NJ Transit bus, MTA Subway, or PATH Train, you’ll want to make sure you always check your seat before leaving. Things have a habit of falling out of pockets when we’re sitting, and if you lose something on the public transit, there’s little hope of getting it back. 

To avoid losing something, you should absolutely always give your seat a quick inspection before walking away. It’s also a good idea to give your seat a once-over before sitting down, to make sure that a previous occupant hasn’t left anything behind. 

Download a Podcast

The New York commute can be a noisy one. From the sounds of the buses and trains to the honking of horns, drivers with road rage, and loud passengers, there’s lots of racket that can distract you.

One of the best ways to alleviate all of that noise is by downloading a podcast or playlist for your commute into the city! Whatever your niche interests are, there’s probably a podcast dedicated to it! Take away some of the stresses of your morning commute by getting wrapped up in an engrossing podcast!

Learn the Bus Routes

While you’ll always want to check your daily route each morning, it’s still a good idea to get yourself acquainted with your local bus routes. As time goes on, you might be able to find a more streamlined route that works better for your commute.

Studying the bus patterns may seem like adding one more task onto your plate, but it’s certainly worth the extra effort! You’ll be more comfortable, sure of yourself, and you might even find an improved route. 

Use Express Options Whenever Possible

When studying the bus routes in and out of your town, you might notice express buses heading in and out of the city. Whenever possible and applicable, you’ll want to use the express buses as your primary transportation when commuting into Midtown Manhattan. 

They make less frequent stops and, depending on the hour, have a designated lane, so you can spend less time on the bus and more time getting your work done.

The Earlier the Better

Not everyone is a morning person; some people function better in the p.m. than early in the morning. Regardless, it’s a great idea to plan your commute for as early as possible. 

Morning and evening rush hour can be strenuous. At those peak hours, it seems like all of New Jersey is trying to get in and out of Manhattan. Port Authority and Penn Station are often crammed, with long lines to get onto the bus. 

If possible, take whatever steps are necessary to avoid getting stuck in rush hour traffic. You can take an earlier bus into New York and spend some free time before work getting coffee or reading. It might seem like extra time you could spend sleeping, but you’ll be thankful you don’t have to deal with the high levels of traffic. 

Park and Ride

Check to see which, if any, of your local stations offer free or discounted parking. Depending on which town you live in, you may or may not have a direct train station, meaning you may need to find a ride to the station. 

Many train stations, and even some bus terminals are designated Park and Ride spots. This means that passengers are able to park their cars in the lot for free before boarding the public transportation. Even if your local station isn’t a Park and Ride spot, some areas do offer discounted parking for riding commuters. 

Since parking is an often overlooked but quickly costly expense, it’s a great idea to take advantage of Park and Ride or discounted parking options whenever applicable!

If you follow these 11 tips, you will quickly become a pro at NYC commuting! Getting yourself over the Hudson River into the Big Apple can seem overwhelming, but following these tips will make your daily commute much easier!