The subway is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to travel NYC. It runs 24 hours a day (after midnight - 5am its about 30 minute wait)
The MTA gives maps out free, they are available at most tourist kiosks. These maps are large, and pretty easy to read. However, a pain to carry. You can buy tiny wallet sized ones for less than $5, but these may not be helpful to a novice. They are tiny, and unless you have a general idea of which line you need to take, they are much use.o There are also maps in pretty much every station and train car. You can always ask people on the subway for directions, most are really happy to help. However, since the system is so vast they might not be familiar with the station you are looking for.
Here comes my gift to you! .www.hopstop.com It is a website that gives step by step directions for the subway. You can even have the directions mailed to your pda or texted to your cell phone. Even though i ride the subway everyday, I am always on this webiste. It can even give you a price estimate on cabs and walking directions. It's an invaluable resource!
1. If you're going to take a lot of buses or subways, buy a 7-day unlimited use card from any of the subway stations. It's $21 and can be used for buses and the subway, and it expires at midnight on the 7th day.
2. Take a few minutes to orient yourself with the subway map. You can pretty quickly see which train brings you back to your hotel. I found out that subway workers are a lot nicer to you if you say, "Where can I catch the 6?" than if you say, "How can I get to 575 Broadway from here?"
3. Sometimes you'll run into a swipe mechanism that repeatedly rejects your card. This starts out as mildly embarrassing and then escalates into a seriously maddening situation. This happened to me a couple times, and finally a girl showed me the solution: you have to fold up a piece of paper and run it through the swipe mechanism, to clean it out. The paper comes out black with dirt and presto, magic-o, your metro card works the next time through.
Metrocards act as your tickets for the subway. The are credit-card sized and fit into any wallet. They can be purchased in in vending machines in most every station. Machines accept cash, debit, and credit cards. The come in two types: Unlimited and pay- per- ride.
Unlimited cards come in different demoninations from a one day pass to an entire month. can be used as much as you'd like until they expire.The only restriction is that you can only swipe the card once every 17 minutes. So you cannot buy 1 unlimited card card for two people traveling together. You can swipe the pay per ride cards as many times as you have paid for, but be careful watch the little digital key. It may say "swipe again at this turnstile" if you move you will loose your $2!
Even when I moved here, it took bit until I would swipe my card with the ease you will see locals doing it. Don't worry, just always have your metrocard ready and out when getting to a turnstile, don't create a line behind you as you dig through your bag.
When using the subway system, keep in mind that you will have ample time to get on and off a train. There is no need to stand directly in front of the doors, blocking everyone from getting on and off. Before stepping onto a train, allow passengers to get off first. This will make things much easier for everyone involved. Don't worry -- the conductors are watching and know when people are still trying to get on and off. Also, please don't hug the poles in the cars -- they're meant for several people to grab onto when the train is moving. Step as far into the car as possible to allow others on. There will be plenty of time for you to exit when your stop arrives. If you've got lots of bags or a big backpack, try to take up as little space as possible. In fact, it recently became a violation for anyone to put their feet up on the seats or to place bags onto seats next to them. Finally, if the train is so crowded that you can't get on unless you push and shove your way, just wait for the next train. The subways all run only a few minutes apart from each other. The train following the one that is overpacked is sure to have more room on it.
The New York subway is easy enough during the week and outside of rush hour but it still takes a bit of skill to navigate relatively smoothly around the city. New Yorkers again have absolutely no time for slow tourists getting on and off the subway so make sure you stand near the platform when the train is about to arrive otherwise you will probably get bumped out by New Yorkers on their way to work or home. Most New Yorkers travel everyday meaning it takes them a bit of time to reach their destination which means for travellers give them the space they need in order to get around. Dont block exits and get on and off the train as quick as possible. Know your route stop ahead of time to avoid confusion because once the train stops at a station you are on your own, you have about 10 seconds to decide if you want to get off or stay on so be prepared ;) Overall, it took some getting used to but was good fun.
New Yorkers move at a quick speed and you will recogonize this instantly! I couldnt get over at which the city moves and it is like a doggy eat dog world at intersections and red lights. New Yorkers love visitors but they have no time for tourists stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to take a photo so do everyone a favor and move to the side near the sidewalk to take the shot but watch out for taxi cabs! I initially thought to myself that there was no way in the world I would ever keep up that pace or begin walking like New Yorkers but sure enough after a solid 3 days on the street I felt like I was swept away in the current and so began my New York 50mph walking skills, I am sure you will have a blast ;) Just bring great shoes!
There seems to be a universal rule regarding the escalators in the underground, as I noticed this in Paris and in London. Keep to the right if you plan to stay stationary while riding and to allow others to pass you on the left. Blocking people on the left-hand side is extremely rude and only serves to block the traffic exiting from the subway.
Everyone says it: do as the locals do. Spend one day admiring the high scyscrapers and from that moment keep your head to ground level. Do not stare at people in the subway, pretend you're in a rush as you're walking down the streets and avoid parks and empty streets after dark. Act tough and that should keep you out of trouble. New York is definitely not a dangerous place; just use common sense, for Pete's sake!
When you are traveling on the New York City Subway drop your backpack off your shoulders and hold between your legs. Everytime you turn even a little bit you will knock over a fellow passenger behind you. Its one of the more irritating things that visitors to New York City are unaware of. Also don't hang out by the doors, move into the car toward the center so people can get in and out easily.
For some great photos of the subway check out Peter Peter's (yes that is his name) book, The Subway Pictures.
Growing up in Boston, one of my favorite things was the constant entertainment on the subway. NYC has the same thing, only 24 hours a day. Some are very good, some are horrible. You may have a guitarist, a flute player, spoken word, or someone preaching.
If you like them, feel free to drop a dollar in their jar.
We are thrilled that you will be visiting New York. Here are a few tips to keep in mind that will help you avoid dirty looks from some locals.
When riding the subway...please stand to the side of the doors and allow passengers to exit before boarding. If I could have one wish in the world, this would be it- well, of course, except for World Peace.
Also, when riding on escaltors, or climbing stairs- stay to the right!
When visiting New York City, visit the outlying parts- Brooklyn, Bronx, etc. It's VERY different from Manhattan. It's easy to tell what ethnic groups live on what blocks. It's just interesting to see so many different cultures living in one city- and they all live in their own little world.
Don't be afraid to take the subway. YEah, it can be kinda confusing but don't disregard it because it could be dangerous. It is very safe now (but still smelly) and it will take you all over NYC. Just use your common sense and don't travel too late at night. Also feel free to look at the map, even NYers do it once awhile.
Subway Culture When you visit New York, something you can't miss is the pictures inside the subway stations. They are really so precious art!
New York is a working City, rather than a place designed for tourists, you may find people rude when they are only in a hurry. Avoid rush hour, and ask questions in as succinct a manner as possible. the answer may be short but the info will be good.