New York Subway


Jul 6th, 2017, 11:06 AM
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New York Subway

I am traveling to NYC for the first time. I have also never been on a subway (nor has nayone in my family). I am a little nervous about how to navigate my way around via subway. I am planning on buying the 7 day pass. I downloaded an app (Kickmap). We are staying on Braodway and 47th. The first day there we are suppose to go from pur hotel to battery park. My app says to take the R line, but I recently read it is shut down? Any insight? tips? advice?
broseyh is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 11:25 AM
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I would walk to Times Square (42nd and Broadway) and take the 1 train from there. Get into one of the first five cars to get off at South Ferry station.

Walk from there to Battery Park, it's a stroll.
georgeb944 is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 11:36 AM
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It can be a little nervewracking the first time you do something like this. Just take it slow and watch others if you aren't sure. For example, walk into the subway station, and then just take a minute to look how people are navigating the turnstile, etc., and look at the signs for how you figure out where to go.

Also be really careful about express trains, and understand what that means.

Personally, I think people should know how to read a map and not depend on some phone app, a subway line map is fairly simple, it's got the names of stops on it and shows where it goes. Subway stop names are on the NYC neighborhood maps I have (plasticized), so I'd look at the closest one to my destination, and then look at the subway line map to figure out the most efficient way to get there from where I was.

I don't know why that app is telling you those directions, but I don't really know where you are going. You could easily go to Battery Park on several other subway lines, and in fact, I wouldn't choose R as my first choice. This is why it pays to be able to read a map. I'd use line 1 and go to Rector ST or S Ferry or line 5, depends where you are coming from.

here's the subway map
Christina is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 11:47 AM
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Ask at the desk at your hotel. You won't be the first to ask. Beware, New Yorkers refer to lines in ways that are not necessarily in ways that are similar to maps. No one refers to lines by colors, for instance. Also, some stations have seemingly illogical layouts, while others are very easy. Same for transfers.

You can always ask. Contrary to flyover folklore, New Yorkers are friendly and will try to help.
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Jul 6th, 2017, 11:58 AM
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I think telling people to avoid using apps in favor of paper maps is absurd. Reading a map on your phone is the same as reading a paper map and a damn sight easier.

The app we used gave us a map to look at with options of routes superimposed upon it. This was great when there were service outages. I think some of the apps take outages into account, but they occur so often now that you have to sort that kind of thing out on the fly.
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Jul 6th, 2017, 12:32 PM
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The R train (Downtown, Brooklyn) will take you to Whitehall Street right to the Battery.

Please note: that weekend schedules can be crazy and confusing as they do work then. So check on-line.

Here are my rules for the subway, others may add their thoughts.

Rules of the Subway

The NYC subway system is an amalgam of lines that were once privately owned and were purchased by the government to unite them. This explains why there is duplication in many areas and no trains in other areas. The line that King Kong destroyed is now underground.

With a few exceptions the subways in Manhattan run north/south. Almost all, except those that go to the Bronx, will eventually make a turn into Brooklyn or Queens.

The exceptions that do not run north/south are:
The shuttle that runs between Times Square and Grand Central:
The 7 line which starts at the newest station 34th Street Hudson Yards and in Manhattan also stops at Times Square,5th Ave and Grand Central and goes eventually goes to Flushing, Queens;
And the L train that runs along 14th street.

Even though a Metrocard is used for entry, no NY’er calls the subway the Metro, Tube, or Underground. It is either called the subway or the train.

Do not use or ask for a subway line using the colors on the map. NY’ers will have no idea what your talking about. NY’ers either use the letter or the number. Say, “Can you tell where to get the “R” train or the “E” train. There are few exceptions. NY’ers refer to the 4 or 5 as the Lex (Lexington Avenue) Express and the 6 as the Lex Local. And the train from Grand Central to Times Square is called the Shuttle.

There are green and red globes at the entrance to many stations. Green supposedly means open all the time and red means sometimes. Some entrances have mechanical card readers without token booths. But red is usually open during week day business hours. Got that.

Transfers occur at many stations. Some transfers are across the platform, others on another level, while others are an interminable walk through corridors which vary from extremely crowded to ill light and very lonely. The main transfers are usually madhouses at all times.

The subway runs all day, all night every day including Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan. If you are lucky there will be more trains during rush hour.

The PA systems have gotten better. There is a male voice for instructions and advisements and a female for station stops. Do not expect an explanation regarding delays. And if they do make an announcement, do not necessarily believe them.

There are regularly route changes on weekends for track work. Always check on-line. They can be very confusing.

On the newer trains there is also an electronic linear map showing the line and stops. They are usually right. There are, however, large lit arrows that show the general direction and they are often pointing in the wrong direction.

If you miss your stop, you will not die, even if you wind in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx. Well maybe the Bronx. Just get off at the next stop but there is the rub. Not every stop has a corridor which connects trains in both directions so you may have to exit, go upstairs, cross the street, descend again and pay another fare. Although there are major exceptions, this is often true on the local lines where are there are few transfers.

There are basically two types of trains, expresses and locals. Expresses stop at designated stops while locals stop at every station. There are times when the local is actually faster. When there is a problem, locals can run on the express tracks and vice versa. Sometimes during extenuating circumstances stations will be skipped. If you are lucky an announcement will be made. (See above rule regarding PA announcements.) And during those times you might be standing on a platform watching a train pass you by. If a train blows its whistle as it enters the station, it often means it ain’t stopping.

Many students take the subway to school. Many travel as hordes when school lets out. 99.9% of the kids are just being kids. Do not be afraid. As I get older, I realize how frightening we were as kids to adults.

A serious note: Unfortunately, the subway system is not designed for the disabled. All stations have stairs and the few that have escalators or elevators are unreliable.

Never ask how to use the machines that dispense MetroCards beforehand. Always stand in front of the machine as long as possible so a line can grow behind you. Hint to tourists: If the person has not moved their hands in fifteen minutes, get on another line.

Always crowd the person in front of you at the turnstile. Not every turnstile works and pirouettes can occur.

The MetroCard turnstile swipe is an art form. Sometimes the first swipe will not work. And do not be surprised that after multiple swipes, if you are charged for two trips.

You can get a MetroCard at almost all subway entrances, especially at the larger stations. Some entrances just have turnstiles. You cannot get one on a bus, even though you need one or exact fare. Currently the fare is $2.75 plus $1 for the card itself, no matter the distance and you can transfer to one bus up to two hours from entering the subway.

Of course, all Metrocards have restrictions since they issued by a bureaucracy.

Here is the site for the variations on the costs:

Others can tell you about the other multiple use cards.

Getting Directions
New Yorkers who barely know their name know the subway lines in Manhattan but few know the subway in the boroughs, other than the one where they live. Always ask for directions, NY’ers are always proud to display their subway knowledge. Conversely, NY’ers only know the bus lines they use and have no clue where the other buses go.

Above each platform are signs that identify the trains which will stop at the station and the general direction. Do not be alarmed that the signs say, Brooklyn Queens, or the Bronx, it is the general direction. Downtown means south and uptown means, well you get the drift.

There are no subway maps above ground. So you will have to descend to into a station to read one.

Riding the Rails

Entering the train can be a bit of free for all. The victory goes to the swift. If you dawdle people will push in front and not many will say things like “Excuse me Sir/Madam, but may I get ahead of you.” At rush hours, people will push from behind and you can be carried with the tide. If you have children, hold their hands and make plans if you get split up. I do this with adults, who so not know the train if someone should miss their stop. (Not hold their hand but make alternate plans.)

Do not stare at people. This is not a joke. It can be interpreted as impolite or worse.

Do not emulate NY’ers who:
1. Lean on the pole so no one else can hold on. It has been known to hold the pole in a certain way so that the knuckles of one’s hand jab the back of the slob.
2. Transport their refrigerator during rush hours. People carry all sorts of objects all the time.
3. Read the New York Times spread open, with their splayed open taking up two seats. (This is a male specialty.)
4. Stand with your bike and take up the room of six people. I will never understand, if you have a bike, why you are taking the train. I would, however, like to borrow their helmet sometimes.
5. Don’t shower and wear muscle shirts.
6. The subway is not your living room, move your butt to the wall if you want to speak on the phone.

You can do just about anything in NYC but do not block a subway car door. When the train stops, the doors open, and you are blocking them there are many choices: make yourself small, get off the train so there is room and then get back on, move to the center, or be prepared to be bounced and cursed. It is prime spot to stand, own it with pride.

Do not say to your fellow passenger, this is like being in a sardine can. We have probably heard that before.

There will be people selling candy, others God. It is your choice to engage them in conversation.

Getting off

It is important to know the stop before as it is to know the stop you need. The stop before warn all your friends and relatives. Know which side the doors will open. Most doors on an express open on the right. On the local trains, the doors usually open on the right on local stops and on the left on express stops. This is a rule of thumb.

Another rule of thumb regards people who do not move out of the way. Say, “Excuse me,” loudly. If they do not move after the second, “Excuse me,” you have my permission to knock them over.
IMDonehere is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 12:48 PM
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Another recent thread about this topic, with very detailed instructin about how the subway works:

Someone wrote: "I would walk to Times Square (42nd and Broadway) and take the 1 train from there. Get into one of the first five cars to get off at South Ferry station."

Actually, from your hotel at 47th and Broadway, you are much closer to the 1 train stop at 50th and Broadway.
ellenem is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 01:35 PM
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Ellenem, that thread is the same initial post IDH just pasted above.


The maps (whether on your phone or whatever) are relatively easy as long as you pay attention to the trains listed on each stop. Unlike nearly every other subway/metro/Tube system in the world (which have only local trains, with a rare exception), the NYC subway has express and local trains. The MTA map will tell you which trains stop where - like the 50th street station on the 1 line says the 1 stops there, but the 34th street station lists the 1, 2, and 3. The MTA probably also has an app that could even tell you what service farkups you'll experience on the weekends. Its accuracy would depend upon whether the MTA knows its rectum from its humerus on a given day.

AJ is right, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE IN NYC REFERS TO THE TRAIN LINES BY THEIR MAP COLORS. They do, however, refer to them by colloquialisms like the 8th Avenue line, the Broadway line, the 7th Avenue line, the Lex, and others. Don't try to understand it (after all, the "Broadway line" spends less time running under Broadway than the 1 train [which is the 7th Avenue Local] and the 8th Avenue line parallels Central Park West more than 8th Avenue) - go with the letter or number.

And no one calls the train "line 1" or "line 5" or "line [letter]." It's the 1 train, the 5 train, the A train, the J train, etc.

As for transfers - usually only express-local transfers are across the platform (except 7th Avenue at 53rd). Most others require going up or down an escalator or stairs somewhere. Most of these are relatively intuitive.
Jul 6th, 2017, 02:05 PM
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Yes, I know the first part is the same as IDH's, but with a very long post following it from more information by me. I did not want to post it here yet again.
ellenem is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 05:54 PM
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There's a very useful app called the MTA Weekender. It will tell you which lines and stations are closed on weekends. The R train is definitely NOT closed, but it could be on weekends when you are here. The closest subway stop to your hotel is the R at 49th/Broadway, so hopefully the R will be fully operational during most of your stay. But you are also very close to the 1 train at 50th/Broadway, and it ultimately goes to almost the same place. If you're going to the Staten Island Ferry or the Statue of Liberty ferry, both trains are equally convenient (and are literally across the street from each other at their respective terminal points).

The only important thing to know about the subway is "Downtown" is toward Battery Park, while "Uptown" is toward the Bronx. If you're going to the Bronx, Queens, or Brooklyn it's a bit more complicated but not that much. And don't forget that your 7-day pass also includes unlimited rides on the bus, which can be especially convenient to go across town or up and down the east side or far west side, where the subways don't go.

Having your pass in hand on arrival can also reduce your cost to get into Manhattan from JFK to $5 per person if you are willing to carry your own luggage (you just have to pay for the Airtrain and then take the E train to 50th/8th Avenue). You an also get into town for $0 extra from LGA, but it's not nearly as easy now as it used to be given all the construction there. It won't hovel you at all from EWR since that's in NJ.

Good luck and have fun. It's a great system that drives us New Yorkers crazy but is pretty amazing and convenient (not to mention pretty fast except late at night). It's nice to avoid all the Manhattan traffic.
doug_stallings is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 05:56 PM
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DUH. The R doesn't terminate at Whitehall/South Ferry, but it does stop there.
doug_stallings is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2017, 09:38 PM
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It's pretty simple to use the NYC subway... It's just like anywhere else. Find where you want to go and connect the lines.

I think if you read to much about how to do it, you'll freak yourself out. It's just a subway and people do it all the time. Some may be brighter than you, some not so bright.

Trust yourself, it's not difficult.

And know that, it's strange, but New Yorkers can be really helpful people.
LSky is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2017, 02:20 AM
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The subway is easy to learn and you'll get the hang of it quickly. Just ask someone for directions and they'll be happy to help. The R line is great as it usually isn't too crowded. But the southern tip of Manhattan is narrow and if the R is shut down, there will be plenty of other options available that can get you close by (for a nice walk to your destination).

If you're nervous about the trip, my suggestion would be to take the subway for the first time when it is a bit less crowded -- i.e. after 10 a.m. and before 4 p.m. if you will be traveling on a week day.

Have so much fun!
Bostonblondie226 is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2017, 03:59 AM
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And know that, it's strange, but New Yorkers can be really helpful people.
Not as strange as people who visit and think we were aliens.
IMDonehere is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2017, 04:09 AM
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The opposite of "helpful" is "aliens". Who knew?!
starrs is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2017, 05:30 AM
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Of course, if you read it properly, your feckless intrusion would evaporate.

Sometimes I wonder why effing bother.
IMDonehere is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2017, 08:30 AM
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I'll add a few comments to what has been said.

The $1 fee on the MetroCard is a one time charge for a new card. The card can be refilled with value (or time) at no additional cost.

As to the 7 day unlimited ($32 or $33 if you include the $1 fee), is a single person use only. It can't be shared with anyone else. To prevent sharing the card becomes invalid (locks-out) for 18 minutes so it can't be used again at that station. Also you need to use the card a minimum of 12 times in order just to break even ($2.75 x 12 = 33). The effective cost per ride decreases starting with the 13th use.

A regular (Pay-per-ride) MetroCard can handle up to 4 people (provided you have enough money on it.

doug - Just FYI - the R does terminate at Whitehall St during the overnight period. It runs from Whitehall St to 95th St-Bay Ridge. The N train covers the rest of the stops in Manhattan. During weekdays (except overnight) the W train covers the same stops in Manhattan as the R train.

I prefer the paper map over the app. It is hard to figure out what to do looking at a small portion of the map on a screen. Subway Maps are free at any subway station (from a booth).
nycguy10002 is offline  
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Jul 8th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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I've lived in NYC all my life and I and everyone I know refers to the particular subway lines as "R" or " Lexington Avenue" etc. Never have I heard anyone speak about the "Broadway" line.

Manhattan is a borough. Just like Brooklyn, Queens, etc.

The trains can change their stops at night and on weekends. And this can change every week. So go to the MTA website and use the "travel planner". It will have the most up to date information on the trains to get you where you want to go. Just put in the date, your from address and your destination. It will give you times and options.
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Jul 10th, 2017, 01:02 PM
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Are Metro cards valid for the bus?
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Jul 10th, 2017, 04:14 PM
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Yes, MetroCards are valid for the bus and subway, plus you can transfer for free on the same fare between subway and bus if you do so within 2 hours. For example, you might take a subway train uptown and then transfer to a crosstown bus to travel to the west side of Central Park. A REGULAR MetroCard will track up to 4 fares and transfers at one time, so a group of 4 could share a card
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