Road Trip: The Cost of Getting in and Around NYC
Think the cost of being a parent ends with college? How about visiting those children and grandchildren? I live by the Delaware River, just two hours northwest of New York City. Low taxes, clean air, and fresh water. Our tiny school district offers great teachers and lots of personal attention.
Leaving the Nest, Migrating to the Big Apple
Once they grew up, my children headed down to the City. One graduated from Hunter College, another from St. John’s University in Queens; two more are currently enrolled at Hunter. Now, when I want to come down and visit my children and grandchildren, it’s a road trip. In my case, it’s a 5 hour round trip, which costs about $50/day.
Here’s the breakdown on that $50 estimate:
- Driving to/from Suffern, NY, an hour and fifteen minutes from my home uses about $15.50 in gas, according to www.mapquest.com. The most direct route includes a $1.25 toll on the NY Thruway. Parking at Suffern’s train station is $3/day, unless I come in after 10:00 a.m. Then it’s free. I pay $13.50 each way for my adult ticket on www.njtransit.com, transfer at Secaucus, NJ, hop off at Penn Station, grab a subway and arrive at my destination. Subway fare is $2.50 each trip, because I purchase a Metro Card with $20 and keep refilling it as needed on www.mta.info. On this trip, I’ve spent $50.75.
- I could drive into Manhattan directly and park at a garage. I’d spend $24.76 in gas, round trip. The NY Thruway, is another $1.25. (I would spend at least that much travelling the upper Palisades by West Point/Bear Mountain to avoid the toll.)Taking the George Washington Bridge, off-peak hours, with my EZ Pass, www.ezpassnj.com costs $8.25. If I’ve arranged parking at a garage ahead of time, I pay an average of $20 for four hours. Coupons are available online with guaranteed rates at www.nyc.bestparking.com. This is the most convenient arrangement, ’cause if my children need me, I’ve got the car. I could spend an hour cruising the streets of Manhattan looking for free or metered parking, but I usually don’t have an extra hour. This option costs me $54.26.
- Port Jervis, NY is the end of the line on New Jersey Transit. Not many trains come all the way up to Port. But it’s close to my house, so I could take a train from Port Jervis, and transfer at Secaucus, NJ. This option would cost $21.75 each way. Getting to an 11 a.m. appointment means leaving my house by 7:00 a.m. This is the least expensive option, but takes the most time. If I have another appointment later in the day, this option doesn’t work. Round trip train and subway comes to $48.50.
Avoid the City: If Your Destination Is Queens/Long Island
Three of my children and both grandchildren live in Queens, so I often bypass the City and travel there directly. Getting to and from Queens usually costs me an additional $15 via the Throg’s Neck Bridge or the Whitestone. Yes, the Queensborough Bridge is free, but that involves taking the GWB and FDR into the City and then getting on the RFK (Triboro) Bridge. If Queens is my destination, I’d rather avoid the time and hassle of getting through Manhattan. (Note: One child lives in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington DC. It doesn’t cost much more to visit her. I spend about $80 on gas and tolls.)
Regardless of the cost, it’s worth every penny to see my children. That investment is priceless.