Monday, September 2, 2013

Take the Chinatown Van to the U.S. Open

There were some chuckles on my Twitter feed over the Times article about U.S. Open champion tennis players getting stuck in traffic as they were being chauffeured from Manhattan hotels to the courts in Queens. If you absolutely must stay at a five-star hotel in Midtown, well, I'm afraid you will just have to leave early and sit in traffic. If you're prepared to be a bit more flexible, there are several alternatives, and they'll will work if you're a US Open spectator as well.
  1. Get a hotel near Flushing Meadows. There are many fine hotels within a ten-minute chauffeured car ride of the Tennis Center, including ten that are conveniently located near the food and nightlife of Downtown Flushing. There are even two four-star hotels in the area, but they're a bit more isolated and car ride would be a little longer.
  2. The Long Island Rail Road. You can stay at the four-star Hotel Pennsylvania, right above Penn Station, and take the train right to the park. You may have to deal with some crowds along the way, but you'll probably get a seat, especially if you wear your tennis whites, and the trip is under half an hour if you time it right.
  3. The number 7 train. This was recommended by a number of people, but I honestly can't recommend it. The 7 is my train, and the entire tournament it's been packed with tennis fans. If crowds (as in, someone's texting hand in your shoulder blade crowds) help your game, go for it. Otherwise, consider alternate routes.
  4. The Chinatown van. They leave as soon as they're full, so you always get a seat! From the three-star Hotel Mulberry, it's a short walk down to Division Street, where the vans load up just east of the Bowery. For two dollars, you get a ride to Flushing, often with Chinese pop or opera music. In Flushing, most of the vans will let you off at College Point Boulevard and 59th Avenue, where you can walk through the park to the tennis center. If you speak a Chinese language you can ask ahead of time, but generally if you're not on the highway you can just call out, "Stop, please!"

    To return to Manhattan you'll have to catch the vans in Flushing, on 41st Avenue just off of Main Street, but you can get there by the #7 train from the park (which will be much less crowded than the opposite direction) and have a tasty Sichuan dinner in Flushing after the match.

3 comments:

The Amateur Transporter said...

The blinders on this reporter were astounding. It was like NYC didn't have ANY transit!

In an age when LeBron can cycle to his games, so can these tennis players.

But why is a NYT reporter blind to transit? Are all of these reporters only traveling by car?

The Amateur Transporter said...

Ugh. Meant to say that the players can take a TRAIN to Flushing, not cycle -- unless of course they stay in Flushing.

greenwaycommuter said...

You are forgetting that these players are traveling with huge tennis bags and probably a coach or two along for the ride. Commuting on LIRR or the 7-train can be at least as stressful as in a chauffeured SUV. Chinatown vans probably break down at least as often as these SUVs, and once again, not terribly convenient for carrying those huge bags. And staying near the courts may be pleasant, but it can't be compared to the experience of staying in Midtown Manhattan, and you can't fault out-of-towners for wanting that as part of their US Open experience.