Grayline tours NY, cabs and buses

Old Oct 18th, 2003, 10:04 PM
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Grayline tours NY, cabs and buses

I had initially planned on the Grayline bus tours with the NY Pass but are having second thoughts after reading the post below (http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=1)

I've searched this forum and most people though have enjoyed it the hop on/hop off. I had chosen the bus tour initially because I had heard that the public buses can be too crowded and slow plus I was reluctant to learn the system/routes.

Now thinking about it, the whole Grayline bus tour now does seem quite expensive considering that we might not enjoy the upper deck anyway given that the flight of stairs might be too difficult with a stroller, toddler and backpack in tow. These things would also make both public transporation system - buses and subway - difficult. So now I'm leaning towards taking cabs wherever we go. PERTINENT QUESTIONS ARE: HOW EASY WOULD IT BE TO HAIL A CAB? AND HOW ABUNDANT ARE THE CABS? AND PREVIOUS POSTS HAVE DESCRIBED NY CAB FARES AS REASONABLE - ARE THEY STILL ARE?

As for the NY Pass, I'm also re-thinking it. I'm certain we won't make use of everything and most of the tours (NBC etc) will not allow a toddler in. It can also be quite restrictive. I imagine we will try to make full use of it. On one hand, visits to the wax museum, circle line 2hr cruise, empire state bldg deck are enough to break us even...

I obviously have a dilemma folks and as we grow closer to our trip date, I am sinking into a panic mode. I'm now thinking cabs first, play it by ear with the hop on/hop off and let that be an option to just see the sights from up there without getting off. HELP PLS!
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Old Oct 19th, 2003, 05:01 AM
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zizz, please don't slip into panic mode! One of the reasons that it's so hard to choose among the alternatives you've presented is that they're all fundamentally workable. Whichever one you choose will work out OK, there isn't necessarily one absolutely-best choice.

New York taxis are indeed resaonably priced (partly because most rides are short, well under a mile). The places where you will be are full of workers and other tourists so there will be plenty of taxis to hail. The only time you might have trouble is 4-6 PM, which is getting-off-work time for most NY residents, including the cab drivers themselves -- during the shift change, taxis can be scarce.

The strategy you outlined in your final paragraph makes sense to me. It allows you to factor-in weather, last-minute mood swings or new ideas, etc.
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Old Oct 19th, 2003, 05:11 AM
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Cabs are a near impossibility to hail in the rain!
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Old Oct 19th, 2003, 05:27 AM
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You can leave your stroller and backpack on the lower level of the hop on/hop off buses. There will likely be others doing same. The guides and drivers are quite safety conscious and the bus does not move until everyone is seated. The guide asks at each stop whether anyone wants to get off.

While taxis are nearly always readily available, once in a while they're not (at showtime, dinnertime, when it's raining/snowing/cold, Friday after work, rush hour), though you will find one eventually. It's best, due to all the one-way streets, to hail one in the direction you're going. If they are few and far between, or the are all occupied as they go by, walk over a block to two and try there.

It's a good idea, though, especially in the wintertime, to be familiar with public transportation. The unlimited ride passes are $7/day per person. Children under 44" tall are free. We prefer the pay per ride passes. With every $10 you get $12.

Recommend that you get a one-page map of Manhattan and highlight all your destinations during your visit. Then, plan your days by area. You'll find that you can easily walk between many destinations.

Here's a huge recommendation for Radio City. It really is "spectacular".
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Old Oct 19th, 2003, 05:36 AM
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I agree with anonymous zizz. First don't panic. There is no right or wrong decision.

Think of this decision like renting a car (cabs) vs taking public transport (grayline) in another location. The car rental (cabs) provides flexibility-you go when you want & where you want. It MAY be a bit more expensive but no waiting. If the baby gets cranky & you need to go back to the hotel, you can without feeling you're losing $. (BTW, PLEASE don't misunderstand-I'm not suggesting renting a car-just making an analogy)

It's easy to hail a cab. The light on the top of the cab has to be LIT in the middle which tells you it's free.(There are off duty lights on the sides on top that mean he's off duty) There are 2 times a day cabs are difficult to find- 4:30-6:00pm when taxi shifts change & people get out of work & 10-11pm IN THE THEATER district when shows let out. Since you're staying in this area, you shouldn't have a problem with the 2nd.

Taxis are reasonable. Expensive rides are long distances like from midtown to all the way downtown (ie Staten Island Ferry or wall st). While the buses & subways are crowded in rush hour (7-9am & 5-7pm M-F) the rest of the time they're not too bad. I think the $99 ticket (per person?) is good value if you use it all, BUT very expensive if you don't. With a baby in tow, I think you may not be able to do everything you plan.

Learning the bus routes is EASY. Buses either go north to south or east to west. Yes, there are a few that make turns (& you will want to take advantage of these) but not hard to learn.

I still think just doing the downtown loop is the way to go. It's got most of what you want to see. You can decide whether to hop on/off or just sit. Maybe you might sit through the entire loop 1x & then do it again & get out downtown to walk around.

Don't obssess about getting the best value. If you buy the full ticket, it's unlikely you'll use it all. If you don't buy it, you might spend $200 in cabs & entrance fees, but IMO not MUCH more.
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Old Oct 19th, 2003, 12:24 PM
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I say do the Grayline Tour. The $49 all loop tour is good for two days so if toddler gets cranky, you will not feel guilty hopping off.

Cabs for the most part are abundant except as others have noted, from 4-8pm, when the theater gets out, if it is raining or snowing.

Subway is easy, just remember Uptown/Bronx and Downtown/Brooklyn.

Buses go everywhere.

Don't panic, you will be fine.
 
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