When traveling to New York, you are spoiled for choice in transportation: bus, taxi, subway, limousine, bicycle, even boat or helicopter! That said, they will not all be usable for the same occasions. Also, if there is a local means of transportation that you need to know about at your fingertips, this is well new york metro!
The latter will allow you to travel the entire city in one limited time and budget. And then, if you want to move like a local, this is the right plan.
So I prepared you a complete guide from the subway in New York, ranging from its little history to its fares and timetables, through little anecdotes and a guide to good behavior. Ready to embark?
The history of the New York subway
While Alfred Ely Beechen proposed an underground train in Manhattan in the 19th century, the New York subway was born later, due to the consolidation of the different districts of the city, from the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge and, therefore, more massive traffic.
Thus, the underground metro opened its doors at the very beginning of the 20th century and has been very successful ever since. The record day with the most passengers was in 2005, with a total of 7.5 million travelers!
Today it has more than 1.75 billion passengers per year (2014), and its most popular station in Times Square!
New York subway lines and map
The New York subway includes 25 lines indicated by letters and numbers and serves all New York boroughs except Staten Island. It, therefore, has many more lines than Paris or London underground, which you may be used to!
Also, be aware that only one dock often groups together in several ways. Do not get on the first metro to arrive, and check before!
Also, if you are moving through Manhattan, you should take the plunge quickly. Indeed, given that the metro travels there north-south, it is easy to remember that it is enough to take Uptown to go north, and that of Downtown to go south.
That said, be careful: this is not the case in other parts of the city, where the lines have different trajectories. Take a look at the New York subway map (which you can download in high definition version by clicking here), which should help you locate yourself a little better.
The latter is also available free in paper format at all stations, where touch screens containing interactive maps are also available. Do not forget to take one so that you can find your bearings at any time.
“Local” and “express” trains
Finally, note that there are different types of trains: local trains, “Stopping at each station, and the” express trains “Only stopping at the biggest stations, as is sometimes the case with the Paris RER.
- So locate in which train you will ride: the “local trains” have a round logo while the “express trains” have a diamond.
If it’s an express, make sure it stops at your station. Look on your map: the two trains stop at white dots, and only “local trains” stop at black spots.
The New York Metro Card: MetroCard, Fares, and Options
Formerly accessible via tokens, the New York metro requires a metro pass since 1994: the MetroCard. It is a magnetic card offering two options: “Pay per ride” and the “Unlimited ride.”
The first consists of a prepaid sum offering you several journeys accordingly, while the second allows you to use the bus and metro as many times as you want. Note that a single trip costs $ 2.75.
Also, the New York metro map is available in several versions, depending on how long you want to use it. You will pay $ 7.50 for a day, $ 31 per week, or $ 116.50 for a month.
Finally, it can be purchased at any station on the network and will also give you access to buses from the city.
So study your different options, and keep in mind that you may not take the metro systematically. You will sometimes want to walk from one point to another to take a walk, for example.
Note that when you buy your card via a machine in the station, it will ask for a postal code. Enter “10001” or “99999” and go to the next step! Also, you will have to pay a $ 1 fee when purchasing your new MetroCard.
New York Metro Times
In New York, you won’t have to worry about catching the last subway before closing, or ensuring that it will be open when you are very early: the New York subway runs 24h / 24 and every day.
Rush hours are slightly longer than for the Paris metro, for example, and last from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., then 3.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the week.
The waiting time is generally between 2 and 5 minutes during peak hours, 10 to 15 minutes the rest of the day and 20 minutes at night.
That said, not all lines will run, and all stations will not be served between midnight and 6:30 a.m.: so check before! Besides, for security reasons, you may prefer to take a taxi overnight.
Access for people with reduced mobility
Finally, access for reduced mobility is unfortunately minimal, just like in the Paris metro. There are only a few stations with suitable equipment. These are generally terminus and main stations from the city.
Inquire beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Driving tips and guide
Useful mobile applications
There are many mobile apps available to help you with public transportation, including the New York subway. However, here are my three favorites, available both online and offline. You will be able to use them without an internet connection
Embark NYC Subway
Available on iOS, this application is practical for people wishing to optimize their time. Indeed, it informs you in particular of the location and arrival time of your train. So, it will let you know if you have to run to get your train!
iTrans NYC Subway
Calculate the fastest route thanks to iTrans NYC Subway. This application will compare your different options while considering the waiting or walking times between two trains.
Available on iOS, it is ideal for saving a little transport time to save for visits!
Exit New York Strategy
Interactive and complete, this application is the perfect plan for lazy people. In addition to offering full maps, including all network stops, it will tell you where to position yourself on the platform, depending on your destination, to be as close as possible to your next outing!
It is available in full version on iOS and simplified version for Android. The latter includes only complete maps of Manhattan and some parts of the other boroughs.
Rules to follow in the New York subway
Finally, just like in almost any public transport in the world, the New York subway imposes a few rules on how to live.
Thus, it is not allowed to pass over a turnstile (MetroCard in the pocket or not) or drink alcohol inside the metro. That said, this is true of any public place in the United States, whether it’s the street or a park.
Besides, you cannot board the metro with your bike, skateboard, roller skates, or another wheeled machine.
Then, don’t have your feet or bags on a seat: let someone benefit.
It is also forbidden to go from one car to another when the subway is stopped, and to have a liquid on you in an open container, for reasons of cleanliness.
Failure to comply with these rules could cause you some concerns, such as a $ 100 fine or even a short stay in prison. Better take advantage of your time there to discover the city, so be respectful!
Finally, have a little common sense and be courteous. Offer your place to the elderly, pregnant, or have young children and do not block the doors.
Ten things to know about the New York subway
To avoid some mishaps, here are ten things to know about the New York subway.
In the corridors of the metro, you will find these two signs. They mention the direction of the trains: “Uptown” they head north and “Downtown” south. If it may seem complicated at first, you will get used to it quickly! Do not be afraid!
Two kinds of subways are in place in New York: Local Trains that stop at all stations and the Express Trains that stop at the main stations. But then how do you find your way? Just look at the letters or numbers of trains that stop at the stations you want (the one you get on or the one you get off).
Another tip: consult the metro map. Stations marked with a black dot represent local lines while stations marked with a white point refer to express lines.
In New York, you can’t miss the last subway! The subways run 24/7. At night, however, the frequency of subways is lower than during rush hour.
In New York, Wi-Fi access is increasingly deployed in metro stations. To connect to the network, find the TRANSITWIRELESSWIFI network on your mobile. The connection can then be launched.
If you have passed your Unlimited MetroCard, you must wait 18 minutes before you can reuse it.
If your MetroCard does not work or has a problem, do not step over the gates. You risk a fine! To resolve your issue, go to the counter.
If your stroller or suitcase does not pass through the turnstiles, you can pass through the door next to it. Since the door only opens from the inside, you can ask someone who has already passed the turnstiles to open it for you.
There are 25 subway lines in New York. They stand out with colors. Those of the same color have the same route over a large part of Manhattan. On the other hand, they are divided into sections in the districts of New York.
With your MetroCard, you can also use the New York bus network! So do not hesitate to vary the modes of transport to get around!
With your card, you can board the Roosevelt Island Tramway, a cable car that offers a beautiful view of Midtown, allowing you to reach Roosevelt Island initially!
New York Metro: Fun Facts
Have you understood the essentials of the metro, and are you almost ready to travel like a real New Yorker? Here are some fun anecdotes that will only enhance your local coverage!
Some impressive figures
The first line of the New York network was less than 15 kilometers for 28 stations. It linked City Hall to Grand Central as well as Times Square and Broadway to Harlem.
Also, the network is 60% underground, and its lowest station is 55 meters underground! This is the 191st Street station. Conversely, its highest station is that of Smith Ninth Streets, situated at 26.8 meters in height.
Today, the New York subway counts 375 kilometers lines operated and 468 stations. However, if we put all of its lines end to end (more than 1,200 kilometers), we could get to Chicago!
When access to the metro was done using tokens, a few smart guys had a tip. They placed themselves near the turnstile and sucked the tickets so they could be reused. Hygienic, right?
To remedy this ridiculous scam, the tellers placed particular chili powder or nutmeg in the slot provided for the tokens. Enough to offer pleasant surprises to little bandits, and to be able to spot them thanks to their sneezing!
Miss metro elections
Do you know that in the middle of the 20th century were organized miss subways election? Subway users aged 14 to 30 who wanted to could send their photos to an agent for New York Subways Advertising.
Then, the winner saw her face plastered on the wagons of the various trains of the network for a month.
An artistic metro
Also, the New York metro appears in many films and series, such as French Connection, Madagascar, Seinfield, or Wall Street: money never sleeps.
You certainly saw it also in Bad’s music video Michael Jackson, featuring the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station.
However, the first to stage it was Thomas Edison in 1904, just after it opened! It was then a silent black and white film.
Often decorated by different artists over the years, the New York subway gave birth to the program Arts for Transit in 1985, to install works of art Permanently.
This allows, in particular, to highlight many artists by making them known to the general public.
A real brand image
Finally, the New York subway is so famous that it has many derivative products bearing its image.
Thus, you can find plaques mentioning metro stops or other gadgets on the New York Transit Museum boutique site, and even T-shirts with the map of different lines of the city!