With 468 stations, 660 miles of track, over 3.5 million riders per day, and 24-hour service, the New York City Subway is the busiest and most extensive rapid transit system in the Western world. And while to most New Yorkers riding taking the subway is second nature, for newbies, it can be a little overwhelming. We’re here to help.


Thanks to your smartphone, these days metrocards aren’t necessary. The power to ride the subway is literally in the palm of your hand. All you need is your phone, a touchless payment app, and a map app.


Planning Your Trip

With the Google Maps icon on your phone, choosing the right subway and finding your subway station is really easy. Just make sure your location services are on. Put in the address of your destination and tap the directions icon. Now tap the transit icon. Google will give you your options for subway lines and even give you walking directions to find your station.


Paying for Your Ride

When you get to the subway station, you’ll see a screen at the turnstile that says OMNY (One Metro New York). Open your Apple Pay or Google Pay touchless payment app and tap the screen. Congratulations! You’ve just paid for your ride. You can also tap any credit card with a chip on an OMNY screen.


Uptown? Downtown?

Once you arrive at the subway station, you’re going to want to make sure that you get on a train going in the right direction. Your Google App will tell you what kind of train you’re getting on (Uptown, Downtown, Queens-, Brooklyn-, Bronx-, or Manhattan-bound). 


For example: If you’re in Times Square and you want to go to the U.S. Tennis Center, you’ll be taking a Queens-bound 7 train. So, when you arrive at the subway station, be sure that you’re getting on the platform that matches your train and direction.



Of course you are! Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude, which isn’t true. We’re not rude, we’re in a hurry. Most New Yorkers pride themselves on giving directions. 


On the Platform

We’re not going to candy-coat this part of the process. Subway platforms can sometimes be gross and potentially hazardous. For your safety, don’t stand near the edge of the platform, and always be aware of your surroundings. 


Don’t Choose An Empty Car

When the subway arrives, you may see packed cars with people standing. Naturally, you’ll want to opt for a less crowded ride. You may see an empty car with lots of open seats. While this may seem like a stroke of luck, there’s probably a reason why that car is empty. The reason could be broken air conditioning. It could also signify that something in that car smells a little ripe. Avoid it.


General Subway Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts



  1.  Let riders off the train before you try to enter the car.

  2. Offer your seat in a crowded car to the elderly, people with disabilities, and people with small children.

  3.  Make room for your fellow riders.

  4. Keep moving when you get off the train, even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going yet. If you need to figure out where you’re going. Choose a spot by the wall until you find your exit.


  1. Manspread (sitting with your legs wide)

  2. Stand by the door once you’ve entered the car.

  3. Eat or drink in the car

  4. Stop abruptly to get your bearings when you leave the train.