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Help needed figuring out NY Penn Station


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#1 Trainmans daughter

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 08:16 PM

My granddaughter and I will be off on another train adventure in June. We will spend a couple of days in NY city before heading down to FBG. From there we will take VRE to and from DC for a few more days.

After checking out of our NY hotel, we want to store our luggage for a few hours while we finish up our sightseeing. My first question is, can we store our bags at NYP? If so, where and how much?

Question #2 is, how complicated is it to get to our train? I've done lots of reading about the station, and it is very intimidating. It would simplify things if we got a red cap to take us and our bags to the train, but I understand that they are nearly invisible. I have a one day lounge pass thanks to the generosity if fellow AUer Ben_G, but am saving it to use in DC to avoid paying $60-$70 in bag storage fees there on the day we head home.

#3- How much time should we allow to retrieve our bags, search for the elusive red cap, and get to our train. It leaves NYP at 3:05 (train #85)?

Thanks so much for any help and advice you can give me. Be sure to keep it simple and use small words!😏

#2 OBS

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 08:50 PM

If you will be at NYP a few hours before you depart for WAS, maybe just check your luggage to WAS. It would be free, and with the few extra hours, should be there waiting for you when you arrive.....Just an option...



#3 Trainmans daughter

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 08:56 PM

If you will be at NYP a few hours before you depart for WAS, maybe just check your luggage to WAS. It would be free, and with the few extra hours, should be there waiting for you when you arrive.....Just an option...

Excellent idea........except that we will be going down to FBG that evening. No baggage service there.

#4 OBS

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 09:01 PM

Yes, that won't work. You can store bags at the checked baggage window, $5.00 a bag(?) I believe. There is often a line so I would plan on picking up bags at 2:15 or so. If 85 is on time, a red cap can take you down about 2:50 or so. 

 

ETA You should see redcaps wondering around station, maybe even grab one  on way to p/u luggage. Worst case, have baggage room attendant call one for you.


Edited by OBS, 27 March 2016 - 09:04 PM.


#5 RSG

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 04:44 AM

My granddaughter and I will be off on another train adventure in June. We will spend a couple of days in NY city before heading down to FBG. From there we will take VRE to and from DC for a few more days.

After checking out of our NY hotel, we want to store our luggage for a few hours while we finish up our sightseeing. My first question is, can we store our bags at NYP? If so, where and how much?

Question #2 is, how complicated is it to get to our train? I've done lots of reading about the station, and it is very intimidating. It would simplify things if we got a red cap to take us and our bags to the train, but I understand that they are nearly invisible. I have a one day lounge pass thanks to the generosity if fellow AUer Ben_G, but am saving it to use in DC to avoid paying $60-$70 in bag storage fees there on the day we head home.

#3- How much time should we allow to retrieve our bags, search for the elusive red cap, and get to our train. It leaves NYP at 3:05 (train #85)?

Thanks so much for any help and advice you can give me. Be sure to keep it simple and use small words!

I had a similar experience in January, and here's how I handled it. Even though I was traveling by myself, I was on a multi-week trip and had more than the usual amount of luggage. My checkout was in just enough time to get to Penn Station, so I departed directly from my hotel (off of Bryant Park, so not too far from Penn Station).
 
In your case, I would inquire of your hotel (preferably ahead of time) if you can leave your bags there and then retrieve them when it's time to depart. This seems to me to be to be a simpler solution than trying to navigate the zoo that is Penn Station and use options there. Hotels in NYC are pretty used to this arrangement, and even though some might balk a bit and some might charge, it would, in my opinion, still be cheaper than paying to store them at Penn. Hopefully your hotel isn't located obscenely far from Penn Station (like in New Jersey) so that this could be a realistic option for you.
 
Anyway, when it was time for me to depart the hotel, I used the Way2Ride app on my smartphone to enter my travel information and hail a cab (this insured that I was booking a valid medallion cab and thus one licensed by the Taxicab Commission). Alternately, you can have a hotel concierge or valet hail one for you on the spot. When I and my luggage were fully boarded, I explained to the driver that my destination was Penn Station and not the Penn Station Bus Station (which is another entrance aways away from the train station). When we got closer, he inquired again and I ensured that he wasn't dropping me off by the main entrance, but by the taxicab stand. It is recognizable by a grey PVC tent-like awning extension protruding from the building, which I was told stays in place year-round. There is a taxi stand attendant, with a nametag and telltale whistle whose job it is to assist passengers with their taxi needs. Without even inquiring, the attendant on that shift, Mr Rodriquez, offered to summon a redcap. Unlike Chicago or Washington, redcaps at Penn Station use manual hand trucks to transport luggage in and out of the station and use the escalators just as passengers do. He used the courtesy phone at the stand to request a redcap after inquiring which train I was departing on. In my case, he had to make two requests before a redcap showed, so it pays to not cut it too close to your departure train.
 
Once the redcap arrived and there were words exchanged (in typical New York fashion) between the attendant and the redcap about the delay, the redcap loaded up my luggage and we were off to the station. Once inside, we went directly to the redcap assistance station and he told me that I had plenty of time to get a sandwich if I wanted and to meet him back at the kiosk at a time which was 15 minutes or so later. After I patronized a couple of the concessionaires at Penn, I met him back at the redcap stand and he transported my luggage to the Ticketed Passengers Only waiting area. He was originally going to wait with me until boarding, but momentarily got called to assist another passenger. Nevertheless, he returned right about the time for first boarding and escorted me and my luggage directly to the Northeast Regional (to DC, in my case), placing my luggage directly on the train. He even noted that one of my bags was definitely overweight and to “not let the conductor touch it” lest I be charged an excess/overlimit baggage fee. All in all, it couldn't have been more painless---which was exactly the opposite of the way I thought it was going to be. Both the taxi stand attendant and the redcap were worth double the generous gratuity I gave them. They were each pleasant and helpful; something station personnel in other cities could learn from.
 
So a similar plan of action would be my recommendation for your trip. It will be June, in the peak of the travel season, so there might not be as accommodating personnel on duty, but I'm guessing the sight of a grandmother and her granddaughter will help make up for that.   :)  By all means, notice nametags and ID badges if possible so that you can be assured that the persons helping you are indeed authorized personnel (and can be identified later should something go awry).



#6 PVD

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 06:58 AM

NYP has a cordoned off waiting area for ticketed passengers. To enter you show your ticket at a desk. There are often redcaps there, or the desk attendant can call them. You got plan a- storing bags in NYP, plan b - taxi over, now you've got plan c, in case you walk over...... enjoy the trip...



#7 Trainmans daughter

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 05:02 PM

There's some great advice here. Thank you! I'll mull over what the 3 of you suggested and figure it out.

I've been train traveling with my granddaughter for 7 years and this will be our 4th cross country trip, but our first time in NYC. I'm not easily intimidated, but some of the things I find on Google make me worry a bit. Don't make eye contact with New Yorkers, don't smile at them, don't engage in conversation beyond asking directions and then quickly move away. This should be interesting!

#8 trainman74

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 05:29 PM

...but some of the things I find on Google make me worry a bit. Don't make eye contact with New Yorkers, don't smile at them, don't engage in conversation beyond asking directions and then quickly move away. This should be interesting!


I don't know where those horror stories are coming from. In my experience, New Yorkers are just fine, and I think a grandmother and granddaughter shouldn't have any problems with the people.

#9 me_little_me

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 05:45 PM

There's some great advice here. Thank you! I'll mull over what the 3 of you suggested and figure it out.

I've been train traveling with my granddaughter for 7 years and this will be our 4th cross country trip, but our first time in NYC. I'm not easily intimidated, but some of the things I find on Google make me worry a bit. Don't make eye contact with New Yorkers, don't smile at them, don't engage in conversation beyond asking directions and then quickly move away. This should be interesting!

I found New Yorkers, both the people and the police, to be a LOT friendlier than those in Philly. Now when I was brought up in the city area (NYC, that is), what you say was true but not any more.



#10 Bob Dylan

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 06:13 PM

Most of the people you'll run into in NYP and New York are from somewhere else, many from foreign countries.

Those that are rude, ssrcastic and/or ignore you are now the exception rather than the rule.

I've found the people in New York to be friendlier to tourists generally than those in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.

I've had lots better service generally from friendly Amtrak staff in NYP than @ the Stations in Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston.😕
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Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#11 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 07:09 PM

In your case, I would inquire of your hotel (preferably ahead of time) if you can leave your bags there and then retrieve them when it's time to depart. This seems to me to be to be a simpler solution than trying to navigate the zoo that is Penn Station and use options there. Hotels in NYC are pretty used to this arrangement, and even though some might balk a bit and some might charge, it would, in my opinion, still be cheaper than paying to store them at Penn. Hopefully your hotel isn't located obscenely far from Penn Station (like in New Jersey) so that this could be a realistic option for you.


I would say this is the best advice so far. However, there's no need to limit yourself to a single hotel. Find a nice hotel near the station and ask them to store your bags while you go about your business. There's no need to get into a long explanation. Just ask to store your bags and move on. It's a tip focused position and so long as you look like you can afford a tip you should be fine. Talking you out of a tipping situation isn't part of their business plan. If you're unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the process consider ordering a coffee or cocktail beforehand. Ask the waitress or bartender where you can store your bags while you relax and you'll have your bags stored in no time. So long as you don't leave them overnight you'll be fine.

 

...but some of the things I find on Google make me worry a bit. Don't make eye contact with New Yorkers, don't smile at them, don't engage in conversation beyond asking directions and then quickly move away. This should be interesting!


I don't know where those horror stories are coming from. In my experience, New Yorkers are just fine, and I think a grandmother and granddaughter shouldn't have any problems with the people.


Although the examples given are comically exaggerated nobody in their right mind would claim New Yorkers are known for their welcoming kindness and casual approachability. There's nothing "wrong" with them per se, but they are New Yorkers. It's not like they're going to be offended by cold and stoic descriptions.

.


#12 neroden

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 07:42 PM

My granddaughter and I will be off on another train adventure in June. We will spend a couple of days in NY city before heading down to FBG. From there we will take VRE to and from DC for a few more days.

After checking out of our NY hotel, we want to store our luggage for a few hours while we finish up our sightseeing. My first question is, can we store our bags at NYP? If so, where and how much

I believe this has been answered. You can go to the baggage check-in window and do a "day check" for some price.

Enter the station from the 8th Avenue / 31st St. entrance, going down the stairs or escalator. The baggage check-in is on the *right*.

It would simplify things if we got a red cap to take us and our bags to the train, but I understand that they are nearly invisible.

There is a red cap desk in the middle of the Amtrak waiting room. The Amtrak waiting room is straight ahead if you enter from the 8th Avenue / 31st St. entrance (past the big board). This is the most reliable place to find a red cap. They are usually there to help disabled passengers. However, if you get disoriented in train stations and are worried about getting lost, that qualifies as a disability, so feel free to use their services!

#3- How much time should we allow to retrieve our bags, search for the elusive red cap, and get to our train.

10 minutes to retrieve bags (there may be a line), 10 minutes to get the red cap, and the redcaps sometimes board people 15-20 minutes before departure. So honestly I'd arrive 40 minutes early. Of course then everything will go smoothly and you'll be waiting for 35 minutes.
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#13 neroden

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 07:44 PM

In your case, I would inquire of your hotel (preferably ahead of time) if you can leave your bags there and then retrieve them when it's time to depart.

Almost all hotels in NYC will do this as a courtesy. This is cheaper and simpler than checking them at Penn Station. The only reason I wouldn't do it is if your hotel is way far away (in the Bronx, for example).
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#14 BCL

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 09:38 PM

After checking out of our NY hotel, we want to store our luggage for a few hours while we finish up our sightseeing. My first question is, can we store our bags at NYP? If so, where and how much?

 

When we did it (before going to the airport) we paid something like $4 per piece.  Theoretically one is supposed to have an Amtrak ticket (we had one) but nobody asked to see it.

 

Finding the train is pretty easy.  The entrances to the platforms are all in one large area.



#15 RSG

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 04:12 AM

[...] but our first time in NYC. I'm not easily intimidated, but some of the things I find on Google make me worry a bit. Don't make eye contact with New Yorkers, don't smile at them, don't engage in conversation beyond asking directions and then quickly move away. This should be interesting!

What everyone else said is largely true. As the old saying goes, "New Yorkers are not rude, we're just in a hurry!" Most longtime residents are happy to help out whenever asked, as long as you can get to the point without a long story. NYC is not California, but it's not Somalia, either. Most of the advice you mention I would use for panhandlers and those whom you don't wish to engage in any way. Don't fall for the "Can I ask you a question?" spiel, which is the more prevalent come-on in larger cities these days. When in doubt, just keep moving, as if you are already late for a Broadway play.

 

If you are indeed not easily intimidated, you will do fine. If you do sense that there's an uncomfortable or unwarranted situation (such as the feeling you are being followed), duck into the nearest storefront or hotel lobby and wait for a moment. Most of the advice given here is from men, and it is decidedly different for women and particularly younger or older women. It's also different traveling with someone who might distract your attention (such as your granddaughter) at inopportune times. Just be aware of your surroundings and who is around you as much as possible. A caveat about Penn Station---even the taxi stand attendant I mentioned referred to it as “Homeless Station” and noted it has gotten much worse in recent months. For that reason alone, it might be well to avoid an unescorted entry from the street into the station. I do envy your granddaughter; your travels with her will give her a lifetime of memories!



#16 PVD

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:15 AM

Some observations from a lifetime city dweller. NYC is a fast paced, sometimes crazy place, but a place where something worthwhile can be found in any direction. Museums of everything imaginable, great shopping dining and entertainment (nothing, in my book tops a Broadway show), sports, history, you name it. One change that has taken place over the last 20 or so years is that the city and its business community have realized (and embraced) the tourism business and the huge economic impact it has on the city. .There are way more moderately priced hotels (with more under construction) than ever before, and the businesses and many people also, have moved from "cold" to a mix of friendly (businesses) to at least indifferent (the people)  Way better than it used to be. Like any large city, it has its rough spots, but overall, you can't find a safer large city. Even moved from very dirty, to "needs work, but generally ok" If you take time to plan, you will run out of days before you run out of things to see. Depending on day of the week, weather, and whether school here is over (late June) lines for things like Statue of Liberty Ferry can be long, plan accordingly, age and interests will dictate, I think you may be pleasantly surprised.



#17 jis

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:02 AM

While Broadway Shows are the thing in New York, if you are into classical music at all, try to see a performance in Carnegie Hall or even at the Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, the home of the New York Philharmonic. If you like classical Opera try something at the Metropolitan Opera  next door to Avery Fisher Hall, and if it is chamber music that rocks your boat try something at the Alice Tully Hall in the same complex. Sometimes in the summer the New York Philharmonic performs at the various city parks in their free Concert in the Park series too.



#18 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:25 AM

Slight off topic, but is there a good vegan restaurant in walking distance from NYP?

#19 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:25 AM

I think we should have an AU mini-gathering in NY in June.  Those who know NYP can show those of us who don't the ropes.  :)



#20 jis

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 09:07 AM

Slight off topic, but is there a good vegan restaurant in walking distance from NYP?

There are several Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants within five

 

I think we should have an AU mini-gathering in NY in June.  Those who know NYP can show those of us who don't the ropes.   :)

What's happening in June in New York?

or six blocks of NY Penn Station which have a wide selection of Vegetarian and Vegan fare.

 

Of course the big concentration of such are a little further away from Penn Station. One such are is the Lex and 28th St area a block from the 28th St. 4/5/6 stop.






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