Everyone – from construction workers to big name actors, even the Mayor – rides the subway. It’s inexpensive, extensive and, like the city itself, it never sleeps. Plus, when service is running according to plan, subways are often – if not always – the fastest way to canvas the city. While it can seem overwhelming, many stations have booth attendants available to answer questions, and, despite what you’ve heard, locals will often help point you in the right direction.
Base fare for a ride is $2.50. You will need to buy a MetroCard from either an automated machine (pay with cash, ATM card or credit card) or booth attendant (cash only) located in the station entrance. A $1 fee is charged for every new MetroCard purchased. Good options for visitors include a SingleRide card ($2.75, cash only and to be used within two hours of purchase), unlimited 7-day MetroCard ($30) or 30-day MetroCard ($112). And, like any good theme park ride, up to three kids under four-feet tall and accompanied by an adult ride for free. Reduced–Fare Metrocards are available if you’re 65 years or older or have a qualifying disability and show proper form of identification (such as a Medicare card).
Lines and Trains
New York City’s subway, with its 24 lines rumbling across 842 miles of track is the largest subway system in North America. Each route is designated by either a number or letter and a coordinating color, and nearly every train line passes through Manhattan. In general, routes run north and south in Manhattan and there is also a shuttle that runs along 42nd Street connecting Times Square with Grand Central Station. Check the MTA’s website; look at maps posted in every subway station or go to the booth attendant who can help you figure out how to get to your final destination.
Maps and Schedules
Pick up a free subway map from a booth attendant or at New York visitor information centers. Most trains run underground, but there are lines that pop you above ground where you can take in the view. The subway travels to every borough except Staten Island (serviced by ferry and bus), and operates 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. However, be aware that schedules (usually on the weekends or later at night) are often subject to change. In general, trains run every 2-5 minutes during rush hour, every 5-15 minutes during the day and approximately every 20 minutes from midnight until 6:30am.