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NYC’s best, worst times to travel on Memorial Day Weekend

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NEW YORK – If you’re going to hit the road this Memorial Day Weekend for the unofficial start of summer, you won’t be alone. 

AAA projects nearly 44 million people will be traveling more than 50 miles from May 23 through 27. That’s a 4% hike from last year and, for the first time, will exceed pre-pandemic levels.

“We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means that we’re moving beyond pandemic-era lulls, but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead,” Alec Slatky, of AAA Northeast, said. 

That means a record amount of road trips are expected. AAA estimates 38.4 million people will travel by car, the highest number for the holiday ever recorded since AAA began tracking in 2000. 

Some 3.5 million people will be flying this week, a 4.8% hike over last year. 

A record 6.4 million people are expected to use Port Authority airports, bridges and tunnels, the Port Authority said. Passengers on domestic flights should arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance, and for international travel, at least three hours is recommended. Here are some air travel tips from the Port Authority.

Here are the worst and best times to hit the road, according to transportation analytics company INRIX: 

Thursday, May 23: Worst travel time 12 – 6 p.m. | Best travel time before 11 a.m., after 7 p.m. 

Friday, May 24: 12 – 6 p.m. | Before 11 a.m., after 7 p.m. 

Saturday, May 25: 2 – 5 p.m. | Before 1 p.m., after 6 p.m. 

Sunday, May 26: 3 – 7 p.m. | Before 1 p.m. 

Monday May 27: 3 – 7 p.m. | After 7 p.m. 

AAA says booking data shows New York City is the #3 domestic travel destination for the holiday weekend. 

Busiest NYC bridges and tunnels for Memorial Day Weekend

Here’s a closer look at last year’s data on how the various bridges and tunnels stack up, in terms of volume, over the weekend. 

Facility

2023 Memorial Day Weekend traffic (Thu-Mon)

% change from 2022

% change from 2019

% change from 2013

Battery Tunnel

285,592

+4%

+17%

+46%

Cross Bay

115,879

-3%

-12%

+12%

Henry Hudson

347,689

+6%

-4%

+31%

Marine Parkway

118,437

-6%

-10%

+10%

Midtown Tunnel

398,929

-0.1%

+1%

+15%

Throgs Neck

647,842

+13%

+0.3%

+19%

Triboro

936,608

+4%

+2%

+20%

Verrazzano*

1,110,787

+2%

+5%

+24%

Whitestone

707,947

-3%

+1%

+29%

Total MTA B&T*

4,669,710

+3%

+1%

+23%

*% change from 2019 and 2013 is calculated using only Brooklyn-bound Verrazzano traffic from 2023, to account for the implementation of two-way tolling in 2020.

The busiest time to travel, according the AAA is expected to be Thursday and Friday afternoons, when commuters and travelers will both be on the roads. 

A closer look at the Verrazano, Throgs Neck + Whitestone Bridges

Verrazano Bridge

  • Brooklyn-bound: The busiest time, other than the Thursday and Friday morning commutes, is expected to be Sunday in the late-afternoon and evening and Monday evening, according to AAA. In 2023, there were more than 6,500 cars per hour from 1 – 8 p.m. Sunday and 5 – 8 p.m. Monday
  • Staten Island-bound: Thursday evening and Friday late afternoon. Last year, there were more than 8,000 cars per hour from 4 – 7 p.m. Thursday and 3 – 5 p.m. Friday. 

Throgs Neck + Whitestone Bridges

  • Bronx-bound: The busiest times are Saturday morning and Sunday morning. In 2023, there were more than 8,000 cars per hour from 9 a.m. – 1p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Sunday. 
  • Queens-bound: The busiest times are Thursday evening and Sunday evening. Last year, there were more than 9,000 cars per hour from 4 – 7 p.m. Thursday and more than 8,700 cars per hour from 3 – 7 p.m. Sunday. 

PATH train service

PATH Trains will operate on a Saturday schedule on Memorial Day. 

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