U.S. Open fans urged to 'take the train' to avoid traffic woes
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How do you get to the U.S. Open? If not practice, then preferably by train.
Those who don't take public transportation may be in for lengthy delays, dizzying traffic patterns and long walks.
"Take the train," advised Guy Breen, assistant manager with Impark, the company handling the U.S. Open's parking operation.
With more than 10,000 spots spread among 17 lots, there should be enough spaces to accommodate all motorists willing to pay the $20 parking fee. But, Breen said, parking at the U.S. Open can get especially hectic on so-called "conflict days," when the Mets are playing across the street at Citi Field and some of the lots have to be shared.
"It's quite chaotic, but we've been doing it for five years, so we have it under control," Breen said as he waved cars into a Roosevelt Avenue lot.
About 60 percent of the estimated 700,000 tennis fans expected to attend the tournament will get to and from the Billie Jean King National Center in Flushing by public transportation, according to the USTA.
However, for those determined to drive, Breen offered some advice: "Get here early. If the session starts at 11, don't leave your house a quarter to 10."
Bea Wall, 57, said at least a half-hour of her hour and 15-minute drive from Lloyd Harbor was spent on the Grand Central Parkway exit for the tennis center, which on Monday morning was backed up to the previous exit as cars were screened by security.
Still, Wall prefers the freedom of her car.
"You can leave when you feel like leaving," Wall said. "You don't have to wait for a train."
To minimize that problem, the Long Island Rail Road is increasing service this weekend to half-hourly intervals from hourly on the Port Washington branch to Willets Point station, which is a short walk from the tennis center. The train ride is 19 minutes from Penn Station and 27 minutes from Port Washington.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has also ramped up service on its No. 7 subway line.
"I hate to drive," said Adam Auerbach, 37, of Oyster Bay, who took the 17-minute train ride from Great Neck to catch opening day tournament action Monday. "I imagine parking would be a disaster."
Many tennis fans vie for another option: street parking. On the side streets of neighboring Corona, drivers cruise around looking for an elusive spot.
"This guy keeps going around the block," Dave Leefoon, 42, said as he sat on his porch watching a white sedan pass his 42nd Avenue home. "A lot of people complain about the price of parking, but they don't complain about the price of a ticket" to the U.S. Open.