NEW YORK — If you're planning to take the Long Island Rail Road back from the Hamptons on Sunday, you might want to start thinking about a Plan B.
Weekend beach-goers have been scrambling to book alternative options to get back to Manhattan — from rental cars to seaplanes — to prevent being stranded if a strike by LIRR workers shuts down train service as early as 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.
Many services are already sold out, with wait lists, organizers said.
“We are getting a lot of inquiries about reservations for Sunday — people asking us how much it would cost to rent a car here and drive it back to the city,” said Dillon, an employee at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Southampton, who declined to give his last name.
Some vacationers are already thinking about cutting their trips short.
"I've already booked a 9 p.m bus ticket to return to the city on Sunday but I might change it to an earlier time if there's a strike," said Dayanara Fromenta, 39, who was hopping on a bus from the Upper East Side to East Hampton on Wednesday morning.
"Sunday traffic is always bad in the Hamptons, but if there's a strike everyone is going to take the bus and it's going to be even worse," she added.
The MTA has announced some contingency plans for a strike, including shuttle buses from Long Island to subway stations in Queens, but the buses won't start running until Monday morning and will be extremely limited.
“This shuttle bus service should be considered only as a last resort,” the MTA said on its website.
If you don't want to cancel your Hamptons trip, here's how to get back to the city on Sunday without using the Long Island Rail Road: (YOU CAN ALSO CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF CITYWIDE TRANSIT ALTERNATIVES)
Buy a Bus Ticket
Hampton Jitney has several buses leaving from the Hamptons on Sunday and is working on a strike-related contingency plan set to be released soon, a spokesman said.
Andrew Lynch, Hampton Jitney's vice president, told 27east.com that the company was working with other companies to add more buses to its routes on Sunday.
A one-way ticket from the Hamptons to Manhattan costs $28 if you book online, and there were still seats available for Sunday as of Wednesday afternoon.
Hampton Luxury Liner, another bus company serving the Hamptons, also has several departures on Sunday, with the last bus leaving East Hampton at 3:50 p.m. It’s $40 for a one-way trip and you can book your ticket online.
Rent a Car
Several car rental outlets allow you to rent a car in the Hamptons and return it in the city. Some companies apply an extra fee (up to about $100) for that service.
“People tend to book their car very last minute on Sunday and usually when they call I don’t have any cars left, so the sooner you book the better,” said Pamy Ericson, who manages car rentals for Budget Southampton NY Rent-A-Car and the Southampton Avis location.
For $12 to $14.50 per hour, Zipcar members can take out a car in Manhattan and drive it both to and from the Hamptons. Zipcar does not offer one-way trips, so you’ll need to return the car to its reserved parking spot.
Take a Taxi
Several taxi companies operating in The Hamptons can bring you back to the city. Fares from West Hampton to the Upper East Side are about $220 to $250 for a car of four people, depending on the company. Add approximately $50 if you are leaving from East Hampton.
“The sooner you book your taxi the safer because it’s going to be a busy weekend,” said Matt Crouthamel, head of Matt’s Car Service and Uneedaride? Car Service. Crouthamel’s companies have a fleet of five vehicles including two 14-passenger vans.
If you can’t stand the idea of being stuck in gridlock — and if you’re willing to spend a little more — hopping in one of Sound Aircraft Service's planes might be a solution.
On Sunday, the company has two flights leaving at 4:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. from East Hampton Airport. It will take 45 minutes to fly to Skyport Marina on East 23rd Street, and a one-way ticket costs $550. There is already a waiting list for Sunday, but the company said it is trying to add more flights.
Booking a charter is also one of your options. For about $3,600, you can be back on Manhattan in less than 50 minutes. Companies such as New York Helicopter or HeliNY provide charters that can accommodate up to 6 people. They have several pickup locations in the Hamptons and can either land at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport or on West 30th Street and 12th Avenue, depending on your arrival time. On Wednesday, both companies said they still had availability for Sunday.
If your group is smaller than six and don’t want to share your flight with strangers, Awesome Flight provides the same service for a maximum of three passengers. The price tag for a charter coming back from the Hamptons on Sunday is approximately $1,590. As of Wednesday, the company was still talking reservations for Sunday.