Quick and Cheap Trick Getting from JFK to Manhattan on Weekends

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Earlier this month we’ve written about the Cheapest Way from Manhattan to LaGuardia LGA Airport but I wanted to discuss a cheap and quick way to get to/from JFK to Manhattan on the weekends and it’s by taking the Long Island Rail Road and buying a City Ticket. Total travel time from JFK to Manhattan is around 45 minutes, which is about the same as taking a cab, can be as much as $65.
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To take this method, you’ll need to take a Jamaica bound AirTrain from any of the terminals and staying on till the end. Upon exiting you’ll have to pay $5 for the airtrain.

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Next you’ll follow signs to the Long Island Rail Road, which is about a 2 minute walk after you exit the turnstiles from the AirTrain. Once you’re outside, stop at the Long Island Rail Road ticket kiosk, where you’ll be able to buy a “CityTicket” which is only $4.25.

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Once you have your ticket, look at the information display screens to see when the next train bound for Penn Station is and head down to that platform.

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Once onboard it’s about a 20 minute ride to Penn Station.

More Info on City Tickets:


CityTicket costs just $4.25 and is good for one-way travel that begins and ends within New York City (LIRR riders can change trains at Jamaica as long as they continue their trips in the same direction).

On the LIRR, you can use CityTicket for trips within Zone 1 or between Zones 1 and 3 (see station lists and map for details); on MNR, you can use CityTicket for trips on Hudson or Harlem line trains between the Bronx and Manhattan.

Other low fare programs — including Family Fare, reduced-fare programs for senior citizens and people with disabilities, certain WebTickets, LIRR’s $3.25 off-peak fare for travel within Zone 3, and MNR’s $3.00 intermediate fare that is valid at all times for travel within the Bronx — remain in effect.

Buying a CityTicket

You can purchase tickets at New York City LIRR or MNR ticket windows or ticket machines at stations in the program. Not all stations have ticket windows open on weekends, but all stations have ticket machines.

LIRR tickets may be purchased with cash or personal checks at ticket windows or with cash or credit/debit/ATM cards at ticket machines. MNR tickets may be purchased with cash or credit/debit/ATM cards at both ticket windows and ticket machines. You cannot use MetroCard to pay for CityTicket.

CityTicket cannot be purchased on board a train; if you buy tickets on board the train you have to pay the full on-board off-peak fare.

Tickets go on sale at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday and must be used on the day of purchase. A grace period allows you to travel until 4 a.m. Sunday or Monday morning for tickets purchased on Saturdays or Sundays respectively. Check the appropriate schedules to determine if service to your destination is available.

Bottom Line

Have you bought a CityTicket before from Jamaica into Penn Station, what was your thoughts on the program?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

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  1. As a New Yorker, I wouldn’t call this method cheap. If I count it correctly, the whole would cost $9.25.

    There is better option else, like a $2.75 on way metro card ride.

  2. you say “quick” and “cheap” in the title, but you give no indication of how long this method would take. how does it actually compare in travel time vs. say a subway or uber ride?

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