With the holidays upon us, let\u2019s review some money-saving tips for riding Metro-North into the city for commuters and day-trippers alike: TransitChek\u00a0\u2014 See if your employer subscribes to this great service, which allows workers to buy up to $130 per month in transit using pre-tax dollars. If you\u2019re in the upper tax brackets, that\u2019s a huge savings on commutation. A recent survey showed that 45% of all New York City companies offer TransitChek, which can be used on trains, subways and even ferries. Go off-peak\u00a0\u2014 If you can arrive at Grand Central weekdays after 10 a.m. and can avoid the 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. peak return hours, you can save 25%. Off-peak is also in effect on weekends and holidays. These tickets are good for 60 days after purchase. Buy tickets in advance\u00a0\u2014 If you buy your ticket on the train you\u2019ll pay the conductor a $5.75-$6.50 \u201cservice charge,\u201d a mistake you\u2019ll make only once! (Seniors: Don\u2019t worry, you\u2019re exempt and can buy on-board anytime without penalty.) There are ticket machines at most stations, but the cheapest tickets are those bought online. And go for the 10-trip tickets (peak or off-peak) to save an additional 15%. They can be shared among passengers and are good for six months. Kids, family and senior fares\u00a0\u2014 Buy tickets for your kids (ages 5-11) in advance and save 50% over adult fares. Or pay $1 per kid on board (up to four kids traveling with an adult, but not in morning peak hours). Seniors, the disabled and those on Medicare get 50% off the one-way peak fare. But you must have proper ID and you can\u2019t go in the morning rush hours. Free station parking\u00a0\u2014 Even stations that require weekday parking permits usually offer free parking after 5 p.m. on nights and weekends. Check with your local town. MetroCards\u00a0\u2014 Forget about the old subway tokens. These nifty cards can be bought at most stations (even combined with your Metro-North ticket) and offer some good deals. Put $5.50 on a card (bought with cash or credit or debit card) and you get a 5% bonus. Swipe your card to ride the subway and you\u2019ll get a free transfer to a connecting bus, or vice versa. You can buy unlimited-ride MetroCards for a week ($31) or a month ($116.50). But is it cheaper to drive?\u00a0\u2014 Despite being a mass transit advocate, I\u2019m the first to admit that there may be times when it\u2019s truly cheaper to drive to Manhattan than to take the train, especially with three or more passengers. You can avoid bridge tolls by taking the Major Deegan to the Willis\/Third Avenue bridge, but I can\u2019t help you with the traffic you\u2019ll have to endure. Check out www.bestparking.com to find a great list of parking lots and their rates close to your destination. Or drive to Shea Stadium and take the No. 7 subway from there. The bottom line is that it isn\u2019t cheap going into \u201cthe city.\u201d But with a little planning and some insider tips, you can still save money. Happy Holidays! Jim Cameron is founder of the Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com. For a full collection of \u201cTalking Transportation\u201d columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com.