The holidays are here, and so is the holiday traffic. Ah, yes, nothing says “holiday cheer” quite like the sound of honking horns and cursing cabbies! If this will be your first holiday season driving in New York City, brace yourself. Traffic is so bad, that the City’s Department of Transportation issues annual Gridlock Alert Days, closing designated streets on specific days in order to improve the flow of traffic in and out of Manhattan. These Gridlock Alert Days begin the days leading up to Thanksgiving and continue until New Years. If your NYC vacation involves a drive through the City this holiday season, read on to learn how you can beat heavy traffic flow and enjoy safe and efficient travel this season.
Gridlock Alert Days
Every year, the City of New York designates a number of projected high-traffic days. These are called “Gridlock Alert Days.” Residents and visitors to New York City are encouraged to take mass transit these days in order to help alleviate the congestion on the roads. If possible, avoid driving your NY car rental vehicle on the following days:
- Friday, November 18th
- Wednesday, November 23rd (considered the worst traffic day of the year)
- Wednesday, November 30th (Rockefeller Tree Lighting ceremony)
- Friday, December 2nd
- Friday, December 9th
- Wednesday, December 14th
- Thursday, December 15th
- Friday, December 16th
- Wednesday, December 21st
Resources to Help With Your Holiday Commute
NYC car rental travelers need to stay on top of road closures. The following resources are a great place to start when reviewing road closures and event schedules in the Big Apple:
- The New York City Department of Transportation Weekly Traffic Advisory offers the latest news on lane closings, construction, and events that impact traffic flow throughout the city. Have travel plans for the weekend? Then check out the Weekend Traffic Advisory before you hit the road.
- New York City produces a full Holiday Traffic Mitigation Plan every year. Download your copy to learn more about special traffic changes, holiday ferry schedules.
- NYC car rental travelers can find realtime traffic advisories online NYCTMC.org. This is the homepage of the city’s real-time traffic cameras. Roads that are marked in green are moving well, while yellow and red roads signify delays.
NYC Car rental travelers are encouraged to carpool to events in the city in order to reduce traffic. Cars with two or more people are also permitted to drive in the HOV lanes, which are designed to get you in and out of Manhattan quicker. Here’s a quick rundown on HOV lanes and where you can find them:
- Manhattan Bridge HOV 2+ Lane
NYC car rental travelers can take advantage of this carpool lane from 6am to 10am, Monday through Friday. Cars with two or more passengers are encouraged to use the left lane of the inbound upper road.
- Long Island Expressway HOV Lane
This HOV lane is restricted to vehicles with three or more passengers. The HOV lane connects the LIE to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and is open for NYC car rental motorists from 7am to 10am.
- Brooklyn Battery Tunnel HOV Lane
The HOV Lane on the Gowanus Expressway, which leads to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is intended for vehicles with three or more passengers. Vehicles using this HOV lane must also have an E-Z Pass.
- Queensboro Bridge Manhattan-Bound HOV Lane
From 6am to 10am, high occupancy vehicles with two or more people can utilize the South Upper Roadway of the Queensboro Bridge.
Are you ready for holiday travel in New York City? Remember, when making holiday plans in the Big Apple, always leave early in your NYC car rental. You’re going to hit traffic – it’s practically a guarantee.