Rules of the NY Subway

Old May 22nd, 2017, 07:30 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,479
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Rules of the NY Subway

From time to time I post Rules of the the NYC Subway. Here it is again:

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.

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.


MetroCards
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:
http://web.mta.info/metrocard/mcgtreng.htm

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  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 08:14 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No, it's "excuse me" and if no movement, "excuse me" plus push.
BigRuss is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 10:48 AM
  #3  
Slw
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 648
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
IMdonehere, I read this some time ago and it was very helpful during a couple of NYC visits. Thanks for reposting it occasionally.

PS, thanks for the laughs too.
Slw is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 10:48 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 5,217
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well the bit about red/green globes clears up another mystery, thanks, Imdonehere. I didn't know the history but either.

And may I just say the you've really captured the heart and soul of the system A+
marvelousmouse is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 12:47 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,479
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for the compliments. I once figured out I have taken over 15,000 subway rides.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 12:50 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,479
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Found this article about the green/red globes from the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/13/ny...ay-stairs.html
IMDonehere is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 01:16 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,518
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm happy to report we were good subway riders.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 02:28 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,805
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You'd have been happy to jump on the trains if you were in the City last Thursday, or otherwise stuck in unbearable, unmoving traffic via bus, taxi, Uber. Fastest way, but yes, most were laid out along the west side of Manhattan with not many options for crosstown.
aliced is online now  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 02:48 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<3. Read the New York Times spread open, with their splayed open taking up two seats. (This is a male specialty.) >

The miracle of manspreading is that they manage to do it even now that newsprint has gone the way of the dinosaur.
NewbE is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 05:08 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,233
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
And here's my "Step-by-step How to Subway" from a few years ago . . .

Since the subway system was originally built as a number of independent companies, there is no uniform subway station setup, though there are a few typical types. In Manhattan, the station is generally a block or two long underground, with an entrance at the station-name street. The entrance stairs are at the relative middle of the platform. However, some stations have entrances at each end of the platform, even though the station is called by the name at one end. The major stations where many subway lines intersect have many entrances. It is only through constant use that one learns all the options available.

In some cases you must chose the uptown or downtown staircase while still on the street. In others, you make this choice once below ground in the station. Read the signs. And if you're still unclear, ask someone for help.

Most subway stations have staircase entrances on both sides of the street, and once down the stairs and inside the station there is a connection between the two staircases so it doesn't matter which one you walk down. You pay and go through the turnstiles and then go down another staircase to either the "uptown" or "downtown" trains.

However, some subway stations have staircase entrances on both sides of the street but each gives access to only "uptown" or "downtown" without a connection between the two. Before you go down the stairs into a subway station, check the signage above the stairs. It will list the name of the station ("8th Street") and the trains that stop there (R, W, N, 4, 5, 6 . . .). If the station with limited access to both directions, the sign will also list "Uptown and Queens" or "Downtown and Brooklyn" or the like.

Just remember: Downtown = south of here; Uptown = north of here

Typical subway ride: Find the subway station from which you will begin your journey. Read the signs that this stair serves the correct direction--uptown or downtown or both. These signs will also indicate if this particular entrance is closed during off-hours. Walk down the stairs. (Some subway stations have elevators and escalators . . . few and far between.)

Just down the stairs, you will find MetroCard machines, turnstiles, and perhaps a fare booth (still sometimes called a token booth, though there are no longer tokens in use). Also in this area are wall-mounted subway and local street maps, as well as--VERY IMPORTANT--small white signs that explain any route changes for construction and maintenance, which is very prevalent on weekends and at late night.

You might be able to buy your MetroCard from a human being if there is a booth. Otherwise buy it at a machine. Some machines may have a digital sign at top noting "No Cash" or the like. The machines takes you through a relatively straightforward dialog. The only mysterious part is choosing "Regular MetroCard" (as much or as little as you want, though the more you buy you are rewarded with bonus fares--regular cards may be shared) or "Unlimited MetroCard" (7-day and monthly passes for one person to use). Regular cards may be scanned four times in a row, so four people could share one card--it keeps track of the four transfers. Unlimited cards may be scanned every 15 minutes or more, thus avoiding people trying to share them.

Now that you've bought the card, go to a turnstile and slide the card through the slot on top. It make take a few tries to get the speed right. If it doesn't work, DO NOT CHANGE TURNSTILES, or you may be charged again (or not be able to scan for another 15 minutes). When you slide correctly, a small screen on the turnstile will flash GO and you can move through the turnstile.

In some subway stations you may now be directly in front of the train tracks. In others, you may need to descend another set of stairs. Read the signs to make sure you use the stairs for the correct direction and trains. Larger stations may have a series of walkways and tunnels to negotiate to find the correct train.

Some stations have only one train that stops there. In others, more than one train may stop on the same platform, so watch the numbers on the front and side of the train to be sure it is the one you want. In others, the platform may have two sides, with local trains running near the wall and express in the middle--read the signs above the platform to be sure. Some platforms may have two sides, one uptown and one downtown--read the signs.

When the train arrives, stand back from the door to allow riders to get off. Once the riders are off, don't dawdle about getting on the train--the full time the train doors are open may be only 15 seconds in less busy times.

Subway etiquette has been described above. Newer trains will keep you posted with electronic signs and voices announcing where you are and the next stop to come. Older trains may feature announcements from the conductor, but are often unintelligible, plus there are no electronic signs reporting progress. As you pass or stop at stations, you can tell where you are because the station columns next to the train feature station names, plus there are large wall signs.

Watch for your stop. If the train is crowded, it's a good idea to try to get near the door at the stop before yours since it might be difficult to squeeze through the crowd when it reaches your stop. Once the train stops, hurry to get off the train. Say a loud EXCUSE ME or GETTING OFF if necessary to get people to shift out of your way.

Read the Exit signs which indicate the street location each staircase offers ("NW corner of . . ." or the like). If you're not sure, it really doesn't matter that much, so don't overthink this. NYers who make these trips everyday like to figure the shortest route, but as a tourist it's less important. Just get up and out and figure your location when you are at street level.

This sounds much more intricate than it really is.
ellenem is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 05:18 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 5,217
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"This sounds much more intricate that it actually is"

Yeah. It's actually really easy to figure out...right until something goes wrong. I can attest to the fact that they don't post or announce delays and changes. But other than that it's probably my favorite transit system anywhere.
marvelousmouse is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 07:47 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,233
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I wrote this up at the request of a very nervous Fodorite planning a first trip to NYC
ellenem is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2017, 08:12 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,551
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
"But other than that it's probably my favorite transit system anywhere."

You're kidding, right? In my experience it's one of the worst. If doesn't even have the excuse of age, London's is better and it's older, and the new ones in Asia are just so much cleaner and smoother and more user friendly... Just like airports in places like Singapore and Hong Kong and Seoul make Newark and La Guardia look third world.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:04 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>

Functionally not true. The main reason the NYC subway has so much suck level is that it operates on Depression-era technology that's nearly as old as the late Roger Moore was. We'll avoid how the conductors and engineers are relatively overpaid and have ridiculous (underfunded) pensions, which drains the coffers of the system and prevents upgrades and additional trains. And we'll also avoid how London modernized operations and largely privatized its system to increase efficiency and utility.

The best aspect of the NYC subway is that it remains the lone major system in the world with dedicated express trains, which sets it apart from London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, etc. This enables riders to move relatively long distances (from a local transit perspective) - such as from Continental Avenue in Queens to the Citicorp building in Manhattan - in 20 minutes.
BigRuss is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:12 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 39,581
Likes: 0
Received 3 Likes on 3 Posts
Why have an express train when your regular ones move faster over a comparable distance and with newer and safer and cleaner equipment?
Dukey1 is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:18 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,551
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Privatization of the UK's rail system is still in effect and working badly. Privatization of London's underground was a spectacular failure and rescinded.

Current funding:

https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-t...-we-are-funded

End of privatization:

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...is-bought-out/

London's underground was the first built. The fact that it has been maintained and extended when New York's has not says a lot about attitudes to government funding in both countries. And of course Europe's non-privatized railways put both the US and the UK to shame.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:39 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,479
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well the NYC system had 1.7 billion riders in 2017. It is 24/7. It is the economic life line of the region as rich and poor use it. There are over 420 stations.

And there are extensive commuter lines besides the subway.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:44 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The NYC subway system is the city's backbone, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite, either. London's system is easier to figure out, for one thing, IMO anyway.
NewbE is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:49 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,479
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Why have an express train when your regular ones move faster over a comparable distance and with newer and safer and cleaner equipment?
__________________________________
Because certain choo-choos have there own twacks. The speed is not a function of modernity, but design.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:51 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tracks can be modernized.

Disappointing the way some posters turn to insults the minute their pet rock is threatened.
NewbE is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:35 PM.