In many NYC suburbs, snagging a spot at the train station or commuter hub is a challenge…
Picture this: you land in the perfect suburb for your family, complete with a quick commute to the city. The only problem? There’s no parking at that coveted station. Suddenly, that amazing commute isn’t even a distant memory—it, suddenly, seems years away.
The reality? It happens. In Westfield, for example, many commuters talk about years-long waitlists to get into the main train station parking lot. Despite having four, all of Greenwich’s train stations have wait lists for parking permits. Cos Cob is the shortest—here you’ll wait about one year for a spot. Greenwich is the longest—it’s five years for an outdoor spot and 10 to park inside. And these communities aren’t alone.
So what happens if your perfect suburb has less-than-perfect train station parking? You get creative. Because, no matter where you land, there are tons of ways to tackle your commute. Start here…
Carpool to the train
Live in one of these towns and you’re not the only one struggling to find train station parking. Your fellow commuters and neighbors are in the same boat.
To make your commute easier, find someone that has a spot and offer to help foot the bill in exchange for a ride—or offer to take turns, depending on the parking venue’s rules for reserved spaces. If your partner goes into work later or stays home during the day, they can also lend a hand with a quick trip to the train. Remember, many lots have (limited) daily parking for non-permit holders. You’ll have a much better chance of parking one car than two, three or even four.
Rent a spot from a local or business owner
It’s not uncommon for business owners and residents to rent parking spots on their property. In Manhasset, for example, people can rent spots from the local gas station, residency not required. Here, there’s no non-resident parking, so snagging these spots is a major win.
To find for-rent spots, check the local paper, Facebook, local resources such as The Patch and around town for spaces for rent—or go out on a limb and ask a local business.
Drive to another town to commute
Just because your town has an eight-year waitlist for a train station parking spot doesn’t mean the town next door does. Maybe your town is smaller, more historic or otherwise less equipped for mass transit. Other towns in your area may have better solutions in place, and usually offer rates for non-residents.
For example, if you live in the Town of Oyster Bay on Long Island, you can park in any TOB stations—that includes stations ranging from Hicksville to Syosset to Glen Cove, Massapequa and Bethpage, among others. That not only gives residents tons of stations to choose from but, also, access to three different LIRR lines.
Even if your permit doesn’t enable diverse parking options, you can research local stations that have daily parking. Non-residents can park in Mineola—which connects to several LIRR lines—for just $6 per day. In Douglaston, there’s free street parking about two blocks from the station—and a sub-30 minute commute to Penn Station once you’re on the train.
Take the bus to the train station
Have a local bus? Chances are, it runs to or close to the train station—or to some train station. Check out the local schedule and hitch a ride down to the train station. In most communities, the bus runs at times that complement the train, which is an excellent alternative to those long parking waiting lists.
Ride your bike to the station
Biking may be the best way to commute to the train station. It’s good for the environment, good for your health and a peaceful way to start the day. Train stations always have racks available for bikes, or you can buy a collapsible bike and bring it into the city with you. Bonus if you can ride from Grand Central, Penn or Port Authority to work!
Look for alternatives—think jitneys, Ubers and more
Many communities with limited train station parking offer other ways to get around town. Does your town or neighborhood offer a jitney or shuttle that transports commuters to the station? Many—West Orange, South Orange, North Hills, Maplewood and Port Washington—do, for starters, dropping residents at local train stations, usually for free. Plus, localities understand the hassle of limited parking and do their best offset the problem. Look at your town’s website for more information or ask fellow commuters. When in doubt, call a ride service like Uber or Lyft.
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.