The basics of NYC subway mastery

1 Jul

One of my readers, who is moving to NYC very soon, asked me the other day about the best way to learn our crazy subway system. Here’s what I wish I’d known all along.

• Trains of different numbers run on the same tracks all the time — but don’t take the same routes. Make sure you’ve got the letter or number you want once you’re at the track you want. Also look to make sure it’s going in the direction you want (uptown, downtown, Brooklyn, Queens, etc).

• The smaller stations have precious few maps or attendants once you’re all the way down there. If you have an iPhone, the CityTransit app is a lifesaver. It has zoom-able maps of the subway system and LIRR, and updates on construction diversions.

• On any given Sunday, plan an extra half hour to get wherever you are going. I can’t recall the last time I took the train on a Sunday and didn’t have to change at least one extra time on account of track maintenance.

• Double and triple check that, if you need an uptown train, that you’re indeed on that track. Subway entrances are either clearly marked (“Uptown only” or “Downtown only”) or there’s access to both from that entrance.

• Hoof it when you can. It’s great exercise. And don’t buy a monthly card until you’re sure you’ll use at least two rides every weekday.

• When all else fails, just ask someone. They’ll be nice.

• You won’t want to swelter underground in August, so learn the buses. There are crosstowns at all the major thoroughfares (14th, 23rd, 34th and 42nd, to name a few), and ones that run uptown and downtown on almost every avenue. Ignore the schedules at the stops — they never run accordingly, thanks to everything from weather to wheelchairs. If you’re not sure the bus is going where you want, just step on quickly and ask the driver what you need to know. People do it all the time.

Anything else you want to know, leave it in the comments and I’ll amend this later!

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4 Responses to “The basics of NYC subway mastery”

  1. Flash 07/07 at 9:29 am #

    Hmm. Is it true? 🙂

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