A Beginner’s New York Subway Guide

new-york-subwayThe labyrinth that lies below the city that never sleeps can be a scary place. But it doesn’t have to be!  Just follow our New York subway guide and you will come out the other side unscathed.

What is it?

Many visitors to the Big Apple are confounded with the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) Subway system, even if they hail from large cities with their own transit systems. Even though the entire system isn’t underground, New Yorkers just refer to it simply as the “subway”. The subway system opened in 1904 and launch an era of unprecedented era of growth and prosperity for the newly unified New York City, helping to turn the city into the largest in the USA.

When is it open?

The subway system is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Sometimes parts are temporarily closed but shuttle buses are always provided to connect closed sections with open opens.

How much does it cost?

The base fare for a single ride is $2.50. A fare card can be purchased for $1.00, in addition to the fare loaded on the card, at MetroCard vending machines or station booth. Most stations have automated vending machines that are easy to navigate. If you are visiting NYC and plan to take more than 12 rides it would be more economical to purchase a 7-day unlimited card. There is also 30-day unlimited card. (All prices are current as of January 16, 2015.)

Where does it go?

new-york-subway-linesThere are 24 subway lines that connect four of New York City’s five boroughs:  Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Staten Island is connected with the other boroughs by NYC Transit’s Staten Island Railway. There are 659 miles of track that run under the city’s streets and 468 subway stations. The subway lines are distinguished from one another by color and a letter or number.

How do I get from one point to another?

First, you must find the closest station to you. Second, figure out where you are trying to go and consult a MTA map to decide the closest station to your final destination. Third, using that map, look at the colored lines to see if you have to change trains to get from point A to B. Finally, figure out which direction you need to go.

Step 1: Finding and Entering the Subway. Look out for green or green-white globe lamps that surround subway entrances. Perhaps better though, use a physical or digital MTA map to find the closest subway station. Here’s a great app to help you, CrossWalk NYC Lite. Make sure you enter the subway in the direction you want to go. Some stations have two entrances for either side of the platform. So decide which direction you are going, in Step 2, before you go through the turnstile. Once you have found you station and descended into the bowels of the city, swipe your MetroCard and pass through the turnstile.

new-york-subway-mapStep 2: Finding the Right Platform. Once you figure out where you want to end up, figure out if it’s uptown or downtown from you current location. Say you are at Penn Station in midtown, and want to go to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. The train you would take would be going downtown. Or say you are going from Brooklyn to Manhattan, you would want a Manhattan-bound train going uptown. Look for signs as you enter the subway that say which direction the train will be going.

Step 3: Getting on and off the train. When the train arrives, you should allow everyone to disembark the train before you enter. On the train, there will be print or digital route maps. You can follow along with the route map to figure out where you are and how many stops to your end destination. When you get there, get off and follow the exit signs to continue on your adventure through NYC.

We hope you’ve found our New York subway guide to be useful, and that it helps on your next trip to the Big Apple! Don’t forget to take at some of our other articles on various parts of the world!

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