The New York City subway system runs throughout four out of five boroughs (Staten Island is out of the loop), and buses run everywhere the trains don't. Both the subway and the bus system are operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). You can find information about fares as well as maps and suggested routes at the MTA's Web site
In Manhattan, the quickest way to travel is by subway. Buses, while slower, will get you where you want to go while giving you some views of the city. Bus and subway fares are $2 per person.
Don't leave the hotel without a subway map you can carry in your purse or pocket. You can always ask for one at a change booth or pick one up at one of the NYC & Company offices — there's one at 810 Seventh Avenue (between West Fifty-second and West Fifty-third streets). You can also request a map by calling 1-800-NYC-VISIT (692-8474) or 212-484-1222 (in town). Some hotels have the maps too.
You'll need a MetroCard to ride the subway and bus. The fare for a single ride is $2. Buses take exact change; paper money, half-dollars, and pennies are not accepted. Unlimited-use MetroCards are the best deal, and there are several kinds. A single-day unlimited card — the Fun Pass — is $7.50; a seven-day pass is $25. You can also buy a Pay-Per-Ride card. The MTA adds an extra 15 percent to the card for every $7 you put on it.
MetroCards allow for free transfers between the subways and buses within two hours from the time the fare is paid. You will need a MetroCard for each member of the family — there are no discounts for students, and every person over the age of five pays full fare. If you have a Medicare card, you can get a reduced-fare MetroCard; show your card to the booth attendant. MetroCards can be purchased at subway vending machines, where you can use cash or credit card, or at more than 4,000 merchants citywide. The MetroCard will also get you discounts in some museums, restaurants, and shops.
New York buses don't take paper money; it's not to be annoying, but because of technology. By far the largest transit system in the country, it has to empty the thousands of cash boxes with large vacuum hoses. This would shred paper currency.
New York City has the largest accessible fleet in the world (more than 4,500), all equipped for passengers with disabilities. Before you get on a bus, read the sign on the front that tells you where it is going. It's easy to get on the wrong bus, so ask if you are not sure. New Yorkers will be helpful. Drivers, although sometimes curt, will usually answer if you ask where the bus is going or at least point to the sign.
The concierge at your hotel or someone at the front desk can help you plan your route for the day and tell you which bus or subway will take you where you are headed. Also, watch for “limited” buses in Manhattan. These are buses that stop only at major intersections. If you find yourself at an express bus stop, you're in luck. When there is no traffic, a limited bus can get you where you want to go in a hurry, provided it stops near your destination. “Limited” buses are designated as such in the front window.
If you are traveling between 10
The New York City subway system is an intricate maze of underground tracks covering 660 miles in passenger use (and 840 miles total), zigzagging under four of the five boroughs. Initially constructed in the early 1900s, the subways carry more than 4.9 million passengers daily in some 6,200 subway cars that stop at 468 stations along 26 routes. It is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to get around the city.
Transferring from one train to another is free, provided the two trains connect at some point. Subway maps tell you the stations where multiple trains stop. During morning and evening rush hours (6–10
Security is a concern across the country. If you are using any New York public transport, heed the advice of authorities: “If you see something, say something.” Call 1-888-NYC-SAFE (692-7233). Check the MTA's Web site for more information:
You can plan numerous connections to take you where you want to go. Be aware, and follow the signs carefully. Finding your connection can be confusing at busy stations such as Forty-second Street or Union Square (Fourteenth Street) in Manhattan. Subway entrances often indicate “uptown only” or “downtown only,” meaning you need to cross the street and look for the train going in the other direction. If you pay attention, you won't join the many visitors (and locals, for that matter) who have taken the wrong train — it happens.
A visit to the New York City Transit Museum is a unique experience for anyone who really loves trains. It tells how the 100-year-old system was built through displays of great antiques and artifacts. It also has one of the best museum shops in town, where you can get the signature subway map on a tie, a shirt, or even a shower curtain. Subway token jewelry is also available. For a preview, visit the museum Web site at
New York City subway lines are designated with either a letter or a number and a color. They cover four of the five boroughs; Staten Island has its own Staten Island Railway system. Here are some popular destinations and the subway routes you can take to get there:
Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, or City Hall — take the A, C, J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 train
Central Park West and the American Museum of Natural History — B or C train
Grand Central Terminal or East Forty-second Street (closest to the United Nations) — 4, 5, 6, 7, or (crosstown shuttle) train
Lincoln Center — 1 train
Macy's, Thirty-fourth Street area — B, D, F, N, Q, R, V, or W train
Metropolitan Museum of Art — 4, 5, or 6 train and walk two blocks west
Rockefeller Center — B, D, F, or V train
Shea Stadium — take the 7 train from Grand Central, or pick it up at Queensboro Plaza (not Queens Plaza)
Times Square — N, Q, R, S (crosstown shuttle), W, 1, 2, 3, or 7 train
Upper East Side of Manhattan or East Harlem — 4, 5, or 6 train
Upper West Side of Manhattan or Washington Heights — 1 or C train
Yankee Stadium — B, D, or 4 train
Keep in mind that you can transfer for free at stations where the lines intersect. A complete and updated map is provided on the inside cover of this book.