The subway is a great way to get around New York City – if one knows what one is doing. Start with getting a Metro Card, usually from a vending machine at the entrance of most subway stations. There are two flavors, one based on “value” and one based on “time.” Value means a selected amount of money is put on a card, and the fair is deducted each time it is used, but only when it is used. Time gives unlimited use of the subways for a specific period of time such as a day, a week or a month.
When visiting NYC for a week and the plan is to take multiple trips a day, then an unlimited week pass would be the best option, even if not staying a full week. An advantage of unlimited is there will be no worries about if there is enough money on the card to get to and from each destination. A week pass is the top choice for most visitors.
Ready or not there are 22 subway lines in NYC. Stations that have information booths have maps available for free. A good app to have is the “Subway Map: NYC.” Also take a look around each station; some have artwork worth taking a look at.
Subway stations can be very large, with multiple entrances and exits. The subway stop may say 42nd Street, but depending on the subway line the exits can be anywhere from 40th Street to 44th Street and Lexington Avenue to 8th Avenue. That covers a very large area. It is also easy to get turned around when riding underground.
So be sure to look at a map to know if the destination is North, South, East or West from the station. Knowing that makes walking in the right direction easier, and helps save a lot of extra time and walking. In the station look for signs like arrows pointing the direction of the streets it services.
In Manhattan, one of the primary ways to identify which train to take is to know whether the destination is uptown (North) or downtown (South). Another identifier on the trains is the name of the route, which is usually where that route ends. For example, the Q train ends at Coney Island in Brooklyn to the south, and Astoria Ditmars in Queens to the north. A Coney Island bound train means it is heading south.
Some subways are below ground and some are above. In Manhattan subways are below ground but in many of the suburbs they are overhead. Overhead or below they are all part of the same subway system. To get to the train platform there will be stairs, if stairs are a problem look on the map to see if there is an elevator available.
Other things to watch out for are whether trains run on weekends or not (like the B which doesn’t), and whether the train is an express or local – like the express 7 and a local 7. Express, for any line, means that it skips some stations, where the local stops at all stations.
Included is a free transfer (within two hours) between subway to local bus and local bus to subway. Subways are generally faster but buses can often get closer to a specific destination. Using a combination of buses and subway is another good way to save a lot of walking.
Subway entrances can have many different looks. One thing to look for is the green post with a round light on top. (See slideshow.) The top of the light will be green if that entrance is always open and red if it is open specific hours.
Reminder – save a lot of unnecessary walking by consulting a map before heading out to the subway. Enjoy the ride.
Question – what determines the length of the subway train/how many cars a subway train can have?
Answer – the length of the platform. They can add more trains, but they can’t add more cars. All cars need to stop where there is a platform.
What phrase on a subway train will be heard over and over again?
“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” This phrase is known around the world, but may be coming to an end. The MTA is looking at shorting it to “please stand clear.” Experience this iconic phrase by watching a short video on Youtube.
Fares as of March 22, 2015
- Base Fare – $2.75 Subway and Local Bus (Reduced-Fare $1.35);
- Express Bus – $6.50 (Reduced-Fare $3.00 off-peak only.);
- 7-Day Unlimited – $31;
- 7-Day Express Bus Plus – $57.25;
- 30-Day Unlimited – $116.50;
- Single Ride ticket – $3.00 (No Reduced-Fare) Sold at vending machines only. Must be used within 2 hours; no transfers included.