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Metro Travel in New York City

October 8th, 2012 · No Comments · Travel Guides

Getting Around in New York City: Metro/Subway

Metro Travel in New York City
If you’re traveling on a budget, then a trip to NYC full of taxi cab rides all over town may not be the smartest play. Instead, no matter what your fears may be, or how overwhelmed you may find yourself, consider taking the subway, as it is undoubtedly the cheapest way to get around.

There are literally 26 individual train lines in New York City, which puts it in the number one spot when compared to any other major city subway system the world over. By reading the maps, which are easily available and thoroughly break down the train system, you’ll be riding the subway in NY like you’ve lived there for 40 years, in just a matter of hours.

First, start with the big issues — understand your major compass points, and how north / south or east / west directions impact your bearings when it comes to downtown, uptown, and mid town. Next, realize that some train stops are safer than others, which may be impacted by the time of day or night.

Get a subway map, and make sure you never leave your residence or hotel without it — this will literally be your golden ticket out of trouble and getting lost. You can get one at just about any drug store, bodega, or convenience mart in the city. If you’re a serious planner, go to the Manhattan Transportation Authority website and print one out.

If you don’t happen to find one before it’s time to jump on the train, and you know where you’re starting out, there are maps printed in the subway stations, and on the trains as well.

If you’re planning travel from one place to another, then determine the closest train station at either end of your trip. Trains that operate on the same lines may or may not make stops at all the same places, so be careful not to just jump on one train because it appears in the correct starting station. Consulting the subway map, you will find that:

  • An open circle indicates that every train on that particular line will stop at the station
  • A darkened, closed circle means that the stop is reserved for local stops only at that station
  • Listen for the train conductor when you board — they will let passengers know if they are on board a local or express train

You will also want to pick up a Metrocard if you plan to ride the subway, which works just the way it does in most cities around the world. Buy one with cash or a card from the attendant in the booth at your starting station, or use the machine in the lobby. Most one-way fares tend to run between $2 and $3, including transfers to other lines. Your Metrocard will grant you access to bus rides in the city, as well, and you can load it up with as much credit as you see fit.

Turn the Metrocard’s black strip to the left, and slide your card when you are at the turnstile in the station. Then pass through the turnstile and head for the subway platform. Signs should clearly indicate the train lines by number and or line. Headed south typically means you’re going downtown, and north heads uptown. The S and L lines move in the east/westerly directions.

Don’t expect to wait too long for a subway car — during commuter-intense hours, the trains run every 2-5 minutes, and just about every 10 minutes during the rest of the day. After hours, expect to see trains running a bit less often.

Good manners dictate that you allow passengers to exit the train before you board. If you are concerned for your safety, then choose a subway car that isn’t empty, and one that is closer the front rather than the rear of the train.

New York City Metro Travel

Pay attention to the conductor’s messages. Consult your map, or the signs on the stations as you make stops on the line. Exit when it’s time to exit, and then proceed either to another line and platform, or upstairs and out into the city.

The subway system in NYC operates 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week, every week. The cost of a single ride is approximately $2.50. When you exit through a turnstile, your “ride” or “trip” is concluded, but during the time underground, you can transfer as many times as you need to, and use the trains city-wide for the cost of a single fare.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority:  Buses

There’s a bit more scenery on a bus through one of the boroughs, than when you’re underground, and the city buses will often link up to areas that are not convenient to get to via subway. You can pay using your MetroCard or exact change, and you cannot use dollar bills or pennies to pay for your fare.

Like in many cities, “limited” lines do not make every stop, so beware of the type of bus you board. Rides are $2.50 or thereabouts for local buses, and $3 more for an express bus. The driver will take you any distance on that route, or from one end to the other, for that fare. Buses tend to run every 5-15 minutes.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Taxi Cabs

Though it will cost you a bit more than the subway, especially if you plan on taking a long ride, or one during rush hour through a busy part of the city, visitors to New York know that no trip would be complete without a ride or two in a famous NYC taxi cab.

Regulated by NY’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, fares from the airport to the boroughs are fixed at certain rates to prevent fraud. Cabs are available all hours of the day, and in every part of the city. When the light on top of the cab is lit up, that cab is available and on duty. Make sure to enter on the curbside of the taxi. Exit from the same side, too.

Hotel doormen, should you be exiting your own hotel or another one nearby, will hail a cab for you — tip them a $1 for their effort. Minimum metered fare is also $2.50, and runs around .50 per every 1/5 of a mile, with surcharges added for a single ride (.50), night time travel (8pm-6am = .50), M-F 4-8pm rush hour ($1). Plan on tipping your driver between 15-20% of the total fare, depending on the quality of your service.

You can visit the Taxi and Limousine Commission website for more info.

[Photo Via: nomadicnotes]

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