10 tips for using the New York subway

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Regardless of where you stay, the most normal thing in New York is to move using the metro. The distances are long, the height of the buildings is deceiving and sometimes it is better to take the subway a few stops in the summer than to walk up to the Empire State, because you see it nearby, and take a sunstroke, I say this from experience, and although it can give a little scared at first, the New York subway is the option that I recommend most to move around the city.

The New York subway is the fourth largest in the world, it has 472 stations and more than 100 years, which unfortunately is noticeable in some of the stations and lines, with poor maintenance which means that they continually have a problem or breakdown.

Fortunately, it seems that there is a plan to correct the New York subway, but as everywhere municipal things move slowly.

10 tips for using the New York subway
Subway stopped at the station

Our tips for using the subway

Below, we give you a series of tips for using the New York subway.

  • The New York subway operates the 24 hours of the day, but at night the frequency of trains can go down a lot and there are certain tickets that will be closed. It is easy to know if the entrance is closed at any time or open 24 hours, because if you look over the entrance of the station you will find a green lamp, which means that it opens 24 hours, or a red lamp, which indicates that it is Metro mouth is closed at night and has restricted hours on weekends and holidays.
  • The price of a single ticket is 3 $, although if you pay with a Metrocard (the card costs 1 $ and you sell it in all stations), the price for a single ticket is 2,75 $. If your trip is one week, I advise you to buy the weekly bonus with unlimited travel by metro and municipal bus for 34 $. PTo know how to get the Metrocard, we recommend you read our article for get a New York Metrocard step by step.
  • There are two types of lines: the normal, which they call Local, which stops at all stations, and the Express, which skips any of the stations. The two stop on the same platform, but usually the Express lines will stop on one side of the platform and the Local lines on the other side. If you get Express lines you will save a lot of time in the New York subway, but it is normal that one day you pay the hazing and have to get off at a station to 2 or 3 stops of your destination, change the platform and go back to do the opposite direction in a local line.
Subway arriving at the station
Subway arriving at the station
  • And speaking of platforms, in the New York subway several lines can use the same platforms, so before entering a car, check the train number that is stopped and if the line is valid for your destination or not.
  • When at an entrance or inside the station you see Directions of a line to Uptown, means that it is a subway that goes through Manhattan from the Financial District to the north of the city (Central Park, Harlem, ...) If you go to a neighborhood, you also usually indicate it (for example Uptown & Queens) If instead Downtown, will travel south of Manhattan (from Central Park to Financial District)
  • Before entering through a subway station, look at the signs because some subway tickets are only valid for access in one direction of the line Subway, which you indicate on the sign of the entrance.
This entry is only valid for Uptown
This entrance is only valid for Uptown & Queens
  • Staten Island is the only suburb that does not have a metro connection to Manhattan, so it's the only neighborhood where I do not recommend you book your hotel or apartment. In any case, before booking, verify that you have a metro station nearby and how long it takes to go to the most tourist sites, so as not to take surprises. There are areas of Queens where you will find cheap accommodation but they are more than an hour or an hour and a half from Midtown.
The new subway stations
The new subway stations
  • Download a New York subway map. Either the official map of the MTA or with an app, such as Destino Nueva York, where you have a menu option to consult the most up-to-date metro map offline, it's always good to have a map on hand and be able to locate and get to know the different possible transfers in the metro. A good app that I also recommend is Citymapper, which lets you know the optimal route by metro from one point to another in the city.
  • In summer It makes excessive heat on the platform and inside the car you can freeze. This happens in all the establishments that you find in New York, but in the subway the contrast is even more exaggerated, so to wear a jacket or something to take shelter in the car will thank your throat.
  • Unfortunately, One of the bad things about the metro is accessibility, and that is that in very few metro stations you have ramps or elevators to access the platforms, and the escalators are conspicuous by their absence, so after your trip you are sure you come very well up and down stairs. For those who need this accessibility, in the official website of the MTA find information about the metro stations and the lines that you can access in an accessible way, either with ramp or with elevator.
10 tips for using the New York subway
A typical subway platform

I hope these 10 tips help you move through the New York subway, but I also tell you that you should not be afraid and that people are usually quite friendly and help you if you have any questions.

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