If you have never been to a city with public transportation or a subway system getting around can be a challenge until you figure out what you are doing. Here is some tips and tricks on how to get around NYC that can save your wallet and your sanity.
The subway is probably the best way to get around the city in order to prevent traffic, surge charges, and sketchy taxi drivers. For $3 you can buy a single pass to get to where you need to go that is able to used within a couple hour period.
If you know you will be using the subway more than once buy a MetroCard. For an extra $1 this reloadable card can help you get in and out without buying a single use ticket at the machines that usually acquire lines during rush hour. Once you purchase your single use or metro card swipe the card and go through the turnstile to enter the subway. To prevent some embarrassment watch some people go through the turnstiles prior to going through.
Express vs. Local Trains
This can cause some havoc if you are trying to get to a non-major stop you must use a local train. Express trains only stop at major subway stops. An easy way to ensure your train is stopping where you intend is to use a NYC subway map. White circles indicate that BOTH express and local trains stop there.
Subway directions include Uptown and Downtown. If you are in Manhattan near Times Square (42nd Street) if you wish to go north you need to go uptown. If you wish to go south you need to go downtown. Simple enough?
To make it a little more complicated you will sometimes see the subway direction read “UPTOWN & QUEENS” or “DOWNTOWN & BROOKLYN” this simply means you will still go uptown and downtown but if you do not get off at your designated stop you will end up in Queens or Brooklyn.
Simply at the end of the day go the direction you are needing to go and get off your intended stop and you will have no issues.
JKF to Manhattan
I absolutely hate taking cabs to the city from the airport, getting car sick every time. I don’t know if it’s the bumper to bumper traffic, windy roads, or excitement of just getting there. Airtrain and the subway can get you to the city cheaper and saving you from potential car sickness.
Exit JFK following the signs towards the Airtrain. Purchase a combined Airtrain + Subway ticket. Take the Airtrain towards Jamaica Station. Get on the E train towards Manhattan (fastest if going to Manhattan) or the A train towards Brooklyn and Manhattan. You will pay around $8 and spend about an hour to get to Times Square vs. $75+ and at least an hour depending on traffic via cab/uber.
This is a good option if you are going short distances around the city. For example on rainy or cold days I prefer to take a short Uber to go a couple blocks, usually costing less than $20. This can be a good option if you are wearing heels, running late, or simply sick of walking for the day. If it is your first time in the city this may be a great opportunity to strike up conversation with someone who truly knows that city and can point you in the direction of some great local spots.