8 tips for taking the New York City Subway

Are you heading to the Big Apple for the first time soon?  If you are, then here’s 8 tips for taking the New York City Subway while there.

The New York City Subway

The New York City Subway consists of more than 400 stations across more than 30 lines.  The network is located across Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.   

Similar to London’s Underground, the subway lines are organised by colours, however it differs due to the use of numbers and letters too.

World Trade Center Subway_Ria Vistas solo travel
World Trade Center subway

Subway tips

  • You can buy a MetroCard to travel on the subway.  The MetroCard will cost you $1 and you can top it up with the amount you require.  
  • Each single ride or trip costs $2.75 (at the time of writing).
  • There’s a weekly MetroCard pass option — unlimited rides for $32 per week — if you will travel a lot.  There’s no daily MetroCard pass like London’s Day Travelcard or the Paris Visite Card.
  • You can get one free transfer from a subway train to a bus, or vice versa, but only if you do this transfer within two hours of buying the ticket.
  • Don’t get confused…. Many locals use the word trains even when they most likely talking about the subway.
MetroCard for New York_RiA Vistas solo travel
New York MetroCard
MetroCard for New York_RiA Vistas
Subway ticket machine - New York_RiA Vistas
Ticket machine
Subway subway in New York_RiA Vistas
Barriers on the subway
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Accommodation - Booking
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  • You can pay direct at the ticket gate with your credit or debit card direct or by using your smartphone wallet.  
  • Look out for the direction of the train – Uptown is north and stays in Manhattan, whereas Downtown is more south and heads toward Brooklyn.
  • The Subway Time app is great for real-time information on departures and it has a cool handy subway map in it and all the lines and their corresponding numbers.
New York subway route planning_RiA Vistas solo travel
Subway route planning
On the right route?
  • Confirm your route with the subway name and accompanying letter or number versus the colour of the line.  For example, if you want to get to the World Trade Center from Penn Station, you’d take the blue line. This would be the same colour line if you wanted to get to Far Rockaway Mott Ave station from Penn Station. However, there’s a key difference.  Despite going in the same direction — and being the same colour — the World Trade Center stop is the “E” line and for Far Rockaway Mott Ave, it would be the “A” line.
  • Are you on a local or express train?  Local trains will stop at every subway station while express trains will skip some stations and stop at busier ones.  Local train stops are identifiable by a black dot by the station name, and express train stop have a white circle with black outline.

I hope these tips help you out before your visit to the city that never sleeps!  

Fancy a head start on places to visit while in the “Big Apple”?  You should check out my post to find 4 places to get sky high views in Manhattan New York.

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