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I am planning a potential trip in the near future where I would be driving a rental car to New York City from Pittsburgh. I will be staying at a hotel near Times Square, but I would like to avoid driving in the city. It seems that the easiest approach would be to drop off the rental car somewhere in the NYC suburbs and transition to mass transit. Are there any train stations where I could do this when coming from the west (probably via I-78)?

This is, of course, assuming that the rental car option is cost-effective. I'm currently researching to decide whether it might be a better idea to just fly (in which case getting to mass transit is straightforward). However, in order to evaluate the potential drop-off cost for the rental car, I wanted to identify some potential candidate locations where I could make the transition so I can get some rental car quotes.

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    Are you willing to do this at any cost? If not, you may want to coordintae with the rental company to see where makes sense as far as drop-off charges are concerned It may make sense to board a train significantly west of New York City, or flying or taking the train directly from Pittsburgh. – Jim MacKenzie Apr 7 '18 at 15:10
  • @JimMacKenzie good question, I should have included that in the OP. I'll update. – Jason R Apr 7 '18 at 15:12
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    I'm unfamiliar with the area, but my instinct would be to pick up commuter rail as far out from the city as possible. On the map, the Raritan Valley NJ Transit line looks to be pretty accessible from I-78 between about Annandale & Somerville; so do the last few stops of the Gladstone Branch (particularly Far Hills). Train availability can vary greatly depending on the time of the day and the day of the week, though, so you'd want to check how well NJ Transit's schedule meshes with yours. – Michael Seifert Apr 7 '18 at 15:35
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    @MichaelSeifert why not just take the train from Pittsburgh? – phoog Apr 7 '18 at 18:09
  • @MichaelSeifert thanks, that's something to consider. Given your warning about the train schedules, though, it might not work. I would be getting into NJ late on a Sunday evening, which I assume is a very non-peak time. – Jason R Apr 7 '18 at 18:20
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Newark airport is well set-up for car rentals, so seems to be the obvious drop-off point, however the public transport connections do have a few annoyances.

The airtrain (monorail) will take you to Newark Liberty Station, but charges a hefty $5.50 to exit - airtrain is free inside the airport, but that little connection to the amtrak lines is annoyingly expensive.

Trains from Liberty do go to Newark Penn Station and thence all the way into Manhattan , or you can switch the PATH at Newark Penn Station. The real annoyance about this though is timing of the service: only two trains an hour, which is bad enough, but they are at 32 mins past the hour, and 42 minutes past the hour. So you can quite easily have 45 minute wait for a train.

An alternative is the local bus $2.75 to Newark Penn Station, plus all the shuttle buses to Manhatten.

My suggestion: avoid the airport, drop the car at one of the rental places at Newark Penn Station and take the PATH.

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Newark Liberty Airport.

From there you can catch either the bus or the train (Airtrain to Newark Liberty, then on to NY Penn) into Manhattan.

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