A Commuter’s Guide To Surviving The New York Subway

Sure the New York City’s subway has a lot of room for improvement, as you can see from my previous post but changes are in the horizon. It’s messy, it could have been better but we New Yorkers have managed to make things work.

While we wait for changes to take place, there is nothing we can do now but to work with the current situation. In today’s post, I will share with you some tips, tricks, and techniques so you can, not only survive using the subway but also make it a more pleasant way to commute.

The Basics

Before we focus on various troublesome situations that many commuters face when they use the subway, let’s first take a look at the basics:

  • Ask away – First of all, in case your lost, you can always ask your fellow commuters. Most will answer you happily but they may also be some who’s too busy due to the morning rush
  • Use an app – You can also use different apps to navigate through. We personally love the Transit App as it is, for us, the most accurate.
  • Get a Metrocard – Keep your wallet away from prying eyes and feel more secure by using a Metrocard instead of paying cash. A re-loadable one is best and you can easily top it up through your credit/debit card. Tip: Avoid topping up during rush hour. There’s just too many people rushing to get in and out of the station.
  • Observe how other people swipe their Metrocard – It can be tricky at times. You might have swiped it too fast or too slow so it’s better to observe especially if it’s your first time. If it really doesn’t work, don’t linger. Try another turnstile.
  • Find your train and get in – It is possible for you to walk for a few minutes before you can get to the platform of your train. Make sure you check the number/letter so you don’t get lost. Also courteously let people out before you get in.
  • Leave the train and subway – Getting off the subway is easy and you don’t even need to swipe your card to exit. Just exit the train at your stop and get out of the subway. Tip: It can be a challenge to hear which stops your train is at due to poor quality of speakers. To prevent you from getting lost, simply count how many stops you have to go through before you get out so you won’t have to rely on the speakers. Just count the stops.

Uptown And Downtown

New York Public Transportaion
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

If your destination is North of your location, you have to make sure you’re going uptown. If the destination you want to go is south of your current location, then you have to go downtown.

Sometimes subway directions also include a name of a borough. For example, Uptown & Queens. This simply means the direction of the train is to the north and the train will end up in Queens. It doesn’t matter which borough is the final destination of the train as long as it stops at your stop that’s along the way.

Local Train VS Express Train

The subway map color codes the stops so it’s easy for commuters to identify which train to take. Both the local train and the express train stop at the stops in white. Only local trains will stop on black stops. Express trains typically skip these non-major subway stops.

Saving On Subway Fare

Subway entrance
Image by Corey Ryan Hanson from Pixabay
  • Kids with a parent can ride for free– In order to get the free ride, a parent must first swipe his or her card. Up to three children who are smaller than 44 inches can ride for free with their parent.
  • Unlimited week pass – This subway pass cost $32 and it gives you unlimited rides on the subway within 7 days.

Other Useful Tips

  • Don’t block the way. Let people get out of the car before you get in.
  • Brace yourself. Better yet, hold on the railing to avoid falling over someone.
  • Avoid bringing coffee unless it’s in a sealed container to avoid spilling on other people.
  • Keep clear of the track edge because the train comes quickly and harm you.
  • Stay away from the doors when you’re not getting off soon to provide room for other people who’s about to leave the train.
  • Sanitize your hands after using the subway. After all, it’s a public transport and you can’t be sure what diseases other commuters have.