10 Tips for Riding the NYC Subway like a New Yorker

The worst nightmare of every tourist in New York City is getting lost within the bowels of the mammoth subway system. The sheer size and pace of New York’s subways can intimidate the most adventurous thrill seekers and send them back above ground in search of a taxicab. The best ways to maneuver the system and ride the trains like a native New Yorker include the following list of dos and don’t.


� ask a station agent for directions

Try to find an entrance that is staffed by a station agent. Usually there will be a green light on the outside of the station. If there is a red light outside the station entrance do not use that entrance. There are signs indicating which entrance is open or you can ask a friendly face on the street where the nearest open entrance is located.

� buy a Metrocard

Subway tokens were discontinued back in 2003 so the best way to get around town is using a Metrocard. They are available as pay-per-ride, 1 Day Fun Fares or Unlimited Ride Metrocards. The best bargain for your money is to purchase a 1 day fun fare for $7 that allows you to ride as many times as you like until 3 a.m. the next morning. If you will be in the city for more than a week a $21 Unlimited Metrocard is the better option.

� get a subway map

These are available free from any staffed station booth. Ask if they have the mini size map which is easier to handle. If not the larger maps can be folded for easy reference so that you don’t stand out like a sore thumb in the middle of the street with a map stretched from arm to arm. You don’t need to buy a laminated tourist map to get around town.

� learn the difference between uptown and downtown

This will be your saving grace when riding the subway. Typically, if the train says Brooklyn it is heading downtown. If it says Harlem or the Bronx then you will be heading uptown. Queens trains can go in either direction depending on the line.

� keep your valuables close and secure

Although crime is reportedly down, most subway crimes are tied to expensive electronic gadgets like iPods, Gameboys and cell phones. Keep your electronics concealed, especially when sitting near subway doors. Make sure your purse and other bags are securely closed with the outside flap turned towards your body. Most importantly pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of unnecessary distractions.


âÂ?¢ don’t stare or make eye contact with strange or unusual people

New Yorkers travel daily with homeless people, people with mental illnesses and others who simply have their own sense of fashion. It is not unusual to see a clown in full costume, a model or a disturbed person talking to themselves on the subway. Do not stare at them, especially if the person appears to be agitated. Making eye contact with them can make the situation worse. While in New York you will see it all so take a quick glance, note the details to share with the folks back home and keep it moving.

âÂ?¢ don’t be afraid to ask for directions if you are not sure which train to catch

Most New Yorkers are knowledgable and helpful when it comes to helping lost tourists get around town so try to catch someones attention and usually they will stop long enough to help you get from point A to point B.

âÂ?¢ don’t hold the subway doors or push anything in the doors to hold it open

Not only is it rude to the passengers on the train but it is very unsafe. Most trains in midtown run close enough together that within 2-5 minutes another train will pull into the station.

âÂ?¢ don’t push your way into an overcrowded car

A sure way to rile up a New Yorker is to invade his or her personal space. In a city of over 8 million residents plus a slew of year round visitors, personal space is extremely important to New Yorkers. Watch your step and keep your packages from banging into the people around you. Another subway train is likely to be right behind the one you just missed so it is in your best interest to just wait.

âÂ?¢ don’t stop in the middle of the doors when boarding a train

Sudden stopping in the doors when entering the car screams tourist. Move into the car as far as possible if there are no seats available. The rule of thumb is go with flow and get in where you fit in.

Following these simple dos and don’ts will make your trip safer, more pleasurable and keep you from getting that old Bronx cheer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four − 2 =