Living in a big city comes with its benefits, but amongst all of the wonder, there’s also the difficulty of getting around. If you catch a train, there’s a chance that you get stuck in a smelly carriage, and if you go above-ground there’s a chance you get in gridlock. So what’s the answer?
On this page
So what’s the best way to get around New York City? I’ve ranked them from worst to best. You have to remember though that on any day of the week, I might be completely off and the traffic might have bamboozled me… Check your apps for up-to-date information!
P.S. On February 5, New York City imposed a congestion tax which will make taxis, Ubers, Lyfts and other ride-sharing apps a slight bit more expensive… keep that in mind!
6. In a taxi
It’s the quintessential New York image: Walking out onto a slightly rain-covered road, rugged up in an overcoat, raising an arm and whistling. The cab appears, you jump in and yell “42nd and 3rd! AND STEP ON IT!” It’s really not that far from the truth, except if you yell at a they’ll probably tell you to go away.
Taxis are everywhere, and if you’re in a heavily populated area (Midtown, FiDi, the Theatre District, or around any major venue) you’ll probably be able to find one without a problem.
Remember: If the little numbers are lit up on the top of the taxi, it’s available (see the image on the right).
Pro-tip: Get Curb/Arro apps so that you can pay before arriving at your destination and not having to worry about cards/cash/tips.
5. In an Uber/Lyft
These apps have obviously screamed to popularity because of the above taxis in #6 position being sometimes a bit rubbish (not so much in recent years).
You know how they work! There’s more than you think though, so be sure to check out the apps page and most importantly, use BellHop to see which of the apps is going to be cheaper for you!
I think exercise is a good idea, and a bike is an efficient way to get around the city, however, I’ve kept bikes down to #4 because they’re not the safest way to get around. In many areas outside of Manhattan’s busy traffic areas, they’re incredible though!
Exercise + efficient movement = Winner!
If you don’t want to have to buy a bike, be sure to check out CitiBike!
3. On a bus
Ok, full disclosure, I haven’t really caught any buses in New York. So why is it so high in the list!? Because everyone who does tells me that it’s actually a great way to get around!
Here’s the official guide for how to catch a bus in New York from NY.com:
- Go to the bus stop – Bus stops are located at street corners and have a yellow painted curb and a sign that displays a bus emblem and route number
- Work out which bus it is – Routes with an “M” prefix operate mainly in Manhattan. “B” is for Brooklyn, “Bx” for the Bronx, “Q” for Queens and “S” for Staten Island. Routes with an “X” prefix are express routes. ‘ll know whether the bus that arrives is making limited stops if you see an orange “Limited” card in the bus window. Limited stops are at major intersections, transfer points, and major attractions, such as Lincoln Center. Locals make all stops.
- Get on the bus – You can ask for assistance, the bus can “kneel” towards you to help!
- Pay for the trip – As you board the bus, hold the MetroCard with the black stripe on the right and the MetroCard name facing you. The farebox is directly in front of you as you board. Dip the MetroCard into the farebox. Please note that you cannot use an Unlimited Ride MetroCard on Express buses, unless you purchase a 7-day Express Bus Plus MetroCard. If you don’t have a MetroCard, you need EXACT CHANGE: You need the exact fare — $2.75 in nickels, dimes, and quarters.
- Request a transfer – If you will require a transfer to another service within an hour, you can request a pass from the driver so you don’t get charged twice!
- Sit or Stand
- Notify the driver you want to get off – Stops are every 2-3 blocks, except for limiteds. You should try and notify at least a block early.
That’s it! I know, it should be pretty easy but sometimes it’s stressful in the heat of the moment.
2. On the subway
It’s New York, you’re going to become good friends with the subway if you aren’t already.
The most important things to note:
- The color of the lines group together trains which run in a similar area;
- There’s normally a couple of local trains in a color, and then an express one which will skip to major stations;
- Be sure to look for Uptown (North-ish) or Downtown (South-ish) trains, that’s normally the distinction (or that they’re headed to Queens/North, or Brooklyn/South);
- Buy/swipe your card to enter;
- Stand out of the way when people are trying to get off;
- Get onto the train
- Try to avoid bumping into people;
- Glare back at people who glare at you for bumping into them (it’s inevitable);
- Get off the train as quickly as you can and keep moving!
Make good use of the transport and map apps, and you’ll have no problem at all! The CitiMapper app can even recommend which train car to stand on, and which exit to leave from!
1. On your own two feet
If you’re lucky enough to be able to get out and walk, then you can get outside and move yourself! I’ll give you a pass in a really severe snow storm, or if the rain is coming down hard, but cold/hot weather generally isn’t an excuse.
You’ll get oriented quicker, you’ll learn new tricks, you’ll find new places, and you’ll meet and see some incredible sights.
Ask Google Maps how long it will take you to walk there, and plan to leave 5 extra minutes just in case… You’ll feel good for doing it.
Thanks to Annie Z from Facebook for the idea for this article.
Josh, this picture is of the London tube!
Haha I know! Licensing is expensive, so I had to pick and choose my battles!