See the Big Apple like a Local: Take the Subway!

For a true insider’s view of the world’s most diverse, most exciting city, skip the Uber or taxi, and take the subway! When you use the subway to get around, the journey becomes as memorable as the destination.

You’ll experience subterranean buskers, many of whom are incredibly talented. (If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll run into one of the many celebrities who have headed underground to surprise fans.) Walking to and from subway stations, you’ll discover off-the-beaten-path gems not listed in guidebooks. You’ll experience street vendors hocking their wares, eclectic bodegas and nannies corralling affluent toddlers. Don’t let real New York fly by in the rearview mirror of a cab that whisks you to your exact destination!

The Fine Print: Subway Fare Information

Your vacation will be much more complete if you use the subway as your primary means of transit. First you need to know how to navigate this fascinating, somewhat confusing transit system. While it may seem overwhelming, relax. Millions of folks depend on the subway every day. And you’re probably smarter than most of them!

The subway is the most cost-effective, easiest-to-use transit option in the Big Apple. When you consider traffic, it’s often the quickest option, too. If you’re 65 or older, or physically disabled, you qualify for half-price fares. Up to three kids (44-inches tall and under) can travel for free with each paying adult.

  • Each new card you buy will have a $1 fee
  • A SingleRide ticket costs $3 (available only at MetroCard vending machines)
  • A Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard can be purchased at any station booth or vending machine. When you put $5.50 or more on your card, you get a 5 percent bonus
  • A 7-Day Unlimited Pass costs $32 and is good for unlimited subway rides until midnight seven days from the day you first use it
  • A 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard costs $121
  • If your MetroCard runs out of money, you can add more time to it, rather than buy a new one, to save the $1 new-card fee
    subway nyc

    Credit:  Ben Harding / Shutterstock

Sanity-Saving Tips

Become familiar with the subway route map before your trip. Make a list of your must-see spots, and identify which lines will get you there. Whatever you do and wherever you go, bring a subway map with you.

Don’t attempt to buy an NYC MetroCard for the first time when you’re rushing to get someplace. Instead, once you’re situated in your hotel, stroll to the closest subway stop during a non-peak travel time. If you’re buying cards for multiple people, it may take you 10 or 15 minutes to read the instructions at the ticket kiosks.

Prepare to Be Pushy (and Pushed Around)

When you ride the subway, you will be jostled, shoved, crowded and touched. During busy periods, you’ll have zero personal space. You’ll be packed in like sardines. That’s just the way it is!

subway nyc

Credit: Matias Honkamaa / Shutterstock

Prepare to MYOB

Mind your own business. Excessive chattiness identifies you as an easy mark. It may also get you screamed at, harassed or ridiculed. Remain aware of your surroundings, don’t stare at anyone, and don’t draw attention to yourself.

Expect to Stand

Even if you’re old or pregnant, don’t expect anyone to offer you their seat. If someone does, this is the exception rather than the norm, Consider yourself fortunate, and thank them!

Walk on Down

You’ll have better luck finding a seat or less-crowded car if you walk from the platform entrance down to where there are fewer people waiting for the train.

subway nyc

Credit: Linda Moon / Shutterstock

The NYC subway system is your cheap ticket to explore all that NYC has to offer without breaking the bank. Whether it’s Coney Island, Central Park, Chinatown or our Lady Liberty, let the subway take you there!

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