Useful Tips

How to ride the subway in New York


In New York, we had only a week and a half, which, given our travel regime, is very small. We read about the main attractions, found housing, made maps, got acquainted with a bunch of technical details in absentia. In general, we prepared thoroughly. In search of us, Vinsky's forum, guides, blogs and some individual sites came in handy. Pocahontas collected all this information and it took quite a lot of time. In this post I will try to collect everything that we ourselves ultimately came in handy and even a little more. I hope I will help those who are just going to New York. I'll start with underground.

New York City Subway Summary

We arrived at Kennedy Airport (JFK) and from there we had to get to Manhattan. Theoretically, there are many ways, starting with a taxi and ending with buses, but the easiest for us is the metro. He is also the cheapest.

To get to the metro, you can use the electric train running between all terminals. He is called Airtrain and costs 5 dollars. It provides access to Howard Beach or Jamaica Station. You need to pay for the train at the exit using the metro card (MetroCard), there you will see turnstiles and vending machines for the sale of these cards. There are employees nearby who can help if you hesitate, but in principle, you can handle it yourself, everything in the devices is quite clear. The card itself costs one dollar.

Cards are different: regular (with payment for each trip) and unlimited. Cards can be replenished. On a regular card, one trip costs $ 2.5. Unlimited are for 1, 3, 7, and 30 days (maybe there are some other options, I don’t remember anymore). An unlimited for 7 days costs $ 30 (in the video below, you can spoil other tariffs).

You won’t be able to walk together with an unlimited card for two or three (either 15 or 20 minutes should pass between the aisles). As usual - easily, money is debited for each pass through the turnstile.

How to buy MetroCard

You can buy for cash and with a credit card. A change is issued from cash (if necessary), and there is one caveat about Russian cards: during the payment process you will need to enter a zip code, which, of course, we do not have. You can enter 99999 (it didn’t always work for me) or wait ten seconds, the payment will go through.

By the way, if you have a debit card, all the same, always indicate that it is a “credit card”, otherwise there may be problems with payment (it concerns not only the metro, but generally any payments). Personally, I use it debit.

On the video you can see the process of buying a card.

If you figure out how to buy MetroCard, then there will definitely not be a problem with its replenishment. The usual one can be replenished for any amount, unlimited or for some amount, or for some time (extend). After the expiration of the unlimited card, it turns into a regular one. If you “extend” it, then it becomes unlimited again.

We lived in Manhattan, so the subway was used far from every day. Many places can be easily reached on foot.

How to navigate the subway

You need to download the NYC Subway application, or just download the metro map. The application is much more convenient, since in New York there are very difficult interchanges, and trains that follow in several different directions can pass at the same station.

The metro entrances deserve special attention. Some work around the clock (marked with green lights), others do not always work (with or without blinking red lights). They are located both on public land and in private territory (they may not be visible from the street). Sometimes the entrance leads to the platform, from where the train goes only one way. This happens if there is no safe transition from this side to the opposite. Sometimes the entrance to the subway is through a building, for example, through a shopping center. But no matter how the entrance is designed, there are always signs to it.


You can ride the New York subway either on a one-time ticket or on a travel ticket. If you make more than 7 trips, then it is already profitable for you to purchase the shortest travel card. One trip costs $ 2.50 when paying with MetroCard - this is the cheapest option. A one-time ticket without a card costs $ 2.75, which is valid for 2 hours from the date of purchase. In New York, even small runs between stations are about 4 minutes, but you can spend 1.5 and 2 hours on the way, and sometimes more. Therefore, we recommend you buy a MetroCard.

MetroCard Cards

No need to worry - where and how to buy a MetroCard card, everything is very easy. They can be bought for cash from the duty officer or in special vending machines at all metro stations. Moreover, in the machine (if it is new) even bank cards are accepted. The lowest cost of MetroCard is $ 6, which consists of a $ 1 card and 2 trips of $ 2.5 each. MetroCard machines are handed over change only in coins and no more than $ 8, accept no more than 30 coins, then are blocked. Cards are replenished at kiosks in the station. The following types of cards exist:

    Pay-Per-R> You can calculate it yourself, if you make more than 12 trips in 7 days, then the ticket will already pay off. We recommend that tourists always buy travel cards, as New York is a huge city.

It happens that you made a mistake in the direction of the subway, and the transition to the desired direction is carried out only along the street. As you remember, at least 18 minutes should elapse between trips, but you can not wait for them. There is a controller at each station, just explain to him that you were wrong and you need to go through. As a rule, the controller will open the doors for you and you will pass, and you will not have to wait 18 minutes. This is the way out if MetroCard does not work or stops working at all.

How to navigate the trains

If you learn how to navigate the trains, you can navigate the New York subway. At the top of the platform, on wagons and signs, there are special signs indicating the route, destination, and if there are restrictions. Check whether the number or letter on the line is correct, as well as the time until which the station you need works. Compared with Europe, the signs here indicate the direction in which they will go, and not the place of arrival. If you are in Manhattan, there will be signs: Uptown, Bronx / Queens "or" Downtown, Brooklyn ", or simply" Downtown "(south) and" Uptown "(north). And in Brooklyn, they change the meaning to the opposite. Therefore, you need to know exactly in which part of the city you are.

There are express trains. They travel along the same route, but do not stop at some stations. Use this type of train especially carefully. Unlike local ones, they do not stop at all stations, they may also have stops in special places. The local train stands for the green circle; express train stands for the red diamond.

New York Metro Guidelines

The metro in New York is not the nicest place in the world. It’s dirty and there are dangers. But if you adhere to the following rules, then most likely you can avoid most of the problems:

  1. Be polite! Skip the departing passengers. But do not linger in the doorway.
  2. Keep bags, backpacks, bags in front of your hands. This is for the convenience of others, and for control from pickpocketing.
  3. Take the first free seat. If another passenger is opposite you, keep your knees straight. If there are no seats, then go into the car and stand with the edge.
  4. Do not look into the eyes of other passengers. This is perceived in America as aggression.
  5. Do not talk to strangers.
  6. If there is not enough money to travel, calmly step back to look at them in other places. Do not ask a trifle from passers-by.

As you can see, the subway in New York is not so difficult to use, but it has its own subtleties. If you still have other questions, how to use the metro in New York, write in the comments, I will gladly share what I know. In addition, we recommend a video that not only tells, but also shows how to use the metro:

New York subway - what you need to know in advance

Finally, we are ripe for an article on the New York subway. It is complex and scary. This is probably why the article was born for so long. About how to use the subway in New York, dozens of texts have been written on the Internet. But, until you plunge into it yourself, article algorithms will be a poor helper. Because nothing is clear. So ... So what?

Talking about algorithms is stupid, we now understand this ourselves. So just share some of the features of how to use the new york subway.

How to use the New York subway - circles and squares

There is nothing to do with our Russian subway here. But there is much in common with the metro in Paris. Routes are indicated in Latin letters and Arabic numerals. There are two types of trains in NYC - Express (go, skipping some stations) and Local Train (stop everywhere). Both of them have the same letters / numbers, but in Local Train the letter / number will be in a circle, and in Express - in a square. This is important because the same letter / number inscribed in different geometric shapes has a different route. The difference will be in the number of stops. Routes with letters in squares often pass the desired station without stops. The letters in circles indicate that the train will stop at every New York subway station. Therefore, any tourist who does not want to disappear in the womb of a subway (the so-called metro in New York) needs a map. You can meet her here.

By the way, if you notice, then on this site there are maps not only of the New York subway.

How to get around the New York subway

If you are used to our system in the subway, where trains run in one direction only one way, then you are out of luck. Here, at first glance, everything is in one place. Different trains come to the same platform and can travel in different directions. Or in the same direction, but stop at different stations.

There is nothing wrong, the system is not as complicated as it seems at first glance. Forget that you are in the subway and imagine that these are just tram tracks. Each metro line is like a tram with its own number, which travels along its route. The branches here vary in color and have a name in the form of a letter or number. For example, “A”, “C”, “1”, etc. On each train arriving, it is indicated what branch it is (and on each carriage).

The metro scheme can be taken in the booths at each station, there are some employees on duty. If you have a smartphone, then you can install a program with a circuit. We used the first available program from Google Play (this is for Android phones). Well, or you can download this metro map of New York in PDF format.

There are branches on which "express trains" run. The fact is that some sections of the path at two or three branches coincide. In this case, “express trains” do not stop at all stations, but only at those marked with white circles in the diagram (“local trains” also stop at them). The black circles mark those stations at which only "local" trains stop.

Station at which express trains and local trains stop (lines A, B, C, D)

Only local trains stop here (lines B, C)

The metro also works at night, but in a slightly different way: express trains can run like local trains (stopping at all stations), some stations may be closed due to repair work. Information about when and how this or that branch or a specific station will work is always hanging on the station.

And finally, if you have the Internet at hand, google maps to help you. They can be trusted in terms of laying a route around the city.

Details of our adventures in New York are here.

How to use the New York subway - entrances, exits and buying tickets

You need to enter the New York subway station just as carefully as in Paris. Above the entrances are routes (letters / numbers). First, make sure your route is there, and then take the MetroCard to the turnstile. And do not forget, different routes may stop at the same station, so be careful, otherwise you run the risk of leaving in the wrong direction.

Having already returned to St. Petersburg, we learned one moment that, to be honest, did not pay attention to (but we hope for its relevance). New York Subway Entrances are indicated by green lamps, and outputs are red.

New York metro tickets can be bought at ticket offices at stations or at vending machines. One trip costs $ 2.5 (August 2014). It is better for beginners to go to the checkout, although the machine is not scary - the main thing is that someone is standing nearby. Then, seeing your confused face, the subway aborigines will help and show.

You need to know one important point about automatic machines - they will not take every bill and will not give change on each. And not every card will be accepted. So, if you want to play a quest called New York subway , include in it an item called "buy or replenish MetroCard in the machine."

I want to mention MetroCard separately. It is not always applied to the turnstile. Often, to enter the New York subway, she needs to be drawn along the longitudinal line of the turnstile. And the map is not always readable. As a result, you have to carry it out several times. And Alena, in one of these cases, money was withdrawn twice from the existing travel card. I had to go on the Keshina map (in the New York subway, you do not need to wait any amount of time to go on one map).

When can I pay on the New York subway twice? Then, when you do not leave at your station (forced or accidental). It doesn’t work out how in Russia you just get out of the car and catch the train going in the opposite direction. The entrance for the train going in the opposite direction will be elsewhere. And to enter this place, you need to pay again.

Each carriage has a New York subway map. At the same time, the electronic voice duplicates it (though not very clearly).

How to use the New York subway - be patient

You can wait for your train in the subway for a long time, this is one of the moments when New York is in no hurry. A variety of routes will pass by you, but not yours ... And you will stand in the stuffiness, sweating later, then to dive into the carriage and instantly freeze from the cold. Such specificity New York subway….. Out of the frying pan into the fire.

The metro is always being repaired, because of which trains can stop in tunnels for an indefinite time. We got so stuck once and lost forty minutes. Well, that was in no hurry.

New York subway is tied to buses. After passing through the turnstile for two hours, you can, without losing money, travel by bus.

The official site of the New York subway: It writes about all the changes and repairs. We recommend you bookmark it before traveling to New York.

Schedule of our trip to the USA:

What you need to know before you go to the USA:

Some photos

Times Square Underground Station:

Inside the subway car:

Designation of the station on a post (inside the station):

Typical New York Subway Descent:

Easy mastering the metro system, dear readers!

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