Originally Posted by sdeshpan
But does that mean I can pretty much use it overnight on a monthly basis? If I commute from outside to LI, can I just park every night and go back home?
Has anyone done this before?
I don't know anyone who has ever done this before. It's an interesting idea to leave the car at the station overnight though because the reverse commuters who cannot walk to work on LI from their railroad station end up stranded at the LIRR station and have to take a taxi or a bus everyday.
I would say "reverse commuting" on the LIRR is rough because of the few trains that run reverse rush hour. Expect it to sometimes take a lot longer just because there are fewer trains and those that exist are local, not express. For example, you may have the choice of trains leaving Penn that will either get you there an hour early for work or a half hour late for work and on the way home it could be even worse.
All the LIRR parking lots are separately controlled by the municipalities in which each station is. So, all the rules are different.
Most LIRR parking lots require RESIDENCY in the municipality it exists in. Even if it is supposedly "free" overnight, if you overlap the time that the typical commuters use the lot (starting as early as 4:30 am and staying as late as 9:30 pm typically), you could attract attention and get a ticket anyway because, believe me, the parking lots are religiously patrolled daily, often more than once, for cars without stickers in municipalities where stickers are required and parking enforcement and/or police always write a few tickets everyday because there is always someone who thinks they will get away with it "just this once." If you live in NJ or NYC, you will obviously not be able to prove residency and be able to purchase a yearly (or bi-yearly) parking sticker for your car. Lots often do have guest parking spots that are metered for people without stickers, but in some there is a maximum amount of hours and they are generally set up for the typical amount of hours one spends commuting and traveling on the railroad, so perhaps the meters will not be long enough for someone who lives as far away as NJ to park there overnight.
Another challenge when parking overnight is to be aware of the cleaning times and have another station parking lot to use when that happens to avoid a ticket and/or towing. Some parking lots have certain days that nobody is allowed to park all night because they are using the street cleaning truck to clean the parking lot. (They usually put it as "no parking from 3am to 5am" or some similar small window of time, but would you come back at 3am to move your car?)
However, I think there are a few LIRR parking lots that have no residency restrictions, meters, cleaning, etc. Hopefully people who know which ones are like this will chime in. All the ones I have used in the past and/or know of (Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, Island Park, Hicksville, etc.) have residency restrictions, cleaning times, limited meters, etc.
Another thing to be aware of is leaving your car in a train station parking lot that is basically desolate at night (especially a car with out of state plates) may attract unwanted attention from thieves looking to strip parts or from bored police looking to give tickets for anything they can think of.