How to Navigate the NYC Subway System

New York City can be a pretty confusing place to roam around, especially for the tourists and newcomers. Understanding the basics of the subway system is important, as it is the most widely used travel medium within the city. New comers, who do not have prior experience in travelling in big subway systems can get lost in the New York City transit system. There are a few things that need to know when travelling in subways, so that you do not get confused, and always reach your destination on time.


  • 1

    You need to familiarize with the street map of the city, as it will give you an idea about the different routes and paths to the subway. Though, subway maps are posted on almost all stops and stations, it is recommended to buy a personal copy of the subway, and keep it in your back pack. You can download a softcopy in your cell phone or laptop as well.

  • 2

    Identify the white and black circles on the subway map. White or hollow circles indicate the stop where both the express and local trains stop. While the black or filled circles denote a local stop only. If at any stage you get confused about the train or route you are on, you can ask the conductor for information. Always listen to the announcement made on the loud speaker before the departure of the train, as it briefs travelers about the journey.

  • 3

    The number lines are mostly in the north-south direction, while the lettered lines run from east to west. However, there are some lines that run in all directions, so always consult the map before embarking on your journey.

    If you wish to travel north, search for trains that say “Uptown”, and if you wish to go south, look out for trains that read “Downtown”.

  • 4

    The New York City does not use tokens these days, so you will have to buy a Metro card in order to travel by subway. The fare for one single route is $2, however, discounts are given if you purchase fares of more than $10 a month. Keep the card in your wallet/ purse, so it should be readily available. When you enter the train, make sure that you reach the center of the wagon, as it allows other people to enter or exit the train easily.

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