Friday, September 23, 2011

Using the Subway

When I first arrived in New York I was a bit nervous about using the subway.  I had heard that it was unsafe, over-crowded, hot, smelly and dirty.  However, as a seasoned tube traveller none of this particularly worried me as people say the same about the London Underground.  I was more concerned about getting on the right train, getting a ticket and using the system in general.

Not all stations have manned ticket booths, but they all have machines.  They use a swipe card system and you can buy a single ride ticket or a metro card, which works the same way as an 'Oyster' card in London.  Unlike the tube, you only need to swipe your card on entry into the subway.  There are no 'zones' and each single trip costs $2.50 no matter how far your travel.  You can save 7% by using a metro card and can buy unlimited ride tickets as well.

Initially the system does seem fairly complicated as the subway lines aren't obviously named.  They are colour coded, which does help a bit, but otherwise you will need a subway map for reference.  Also note that although 2 lines appear to run on the same line, one will be the 'local' train, which stops everywhere and one will be the 'express' train which only stop at selected stations. It does get easier the more you use it and after a few weeks I was much more confident.  I still use the subway app on my phone to help me out though!

The subway is smelly, dirty and crowded, but it's also cheap, convenient and quick.  As with any public transport system it can be dangerous at night, but just use your common sense and don't travel alone late at night or into neighborhoods where you don't know your way around.  I wouldn't flash my prized possessions on the subway, but I wouldn't on any form of public transport in any city, again it's just being aware of your location and situation.

For subway maps and to plan your trip visit http://www.mta.info/index.html.

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