Whether you're lucky enough to spend a few weeks in New York City or are only going for a quick weekend trip, there's no denying that this is a super fun place to spend some time. Every restaurant that you can possibly think of is calling your name, and you're wondering which theater tickets to book and which neighborhoods to walk around.
While getting around on foot is definitely a thing in NYC, the subway is a big deal here, and you might have better luck navigating it than trying to hail cabs all the time. The problem is that the subway map can be really tricky... or so it seems.
Read on for some tips and tricks from locals about how to ride the NYC subway.
What You Need To Know
Okay, first things first: the map might be super overwhelming. There are colors, dots, and lines, and how can anyone possibly figure it out? Let's take a deep breath because there are some easy ways to read this map.
According to NYC Subway Guide, when you're looking at the map of the New York City subway, you'll see white and black dots. Those are the stations where you will catch the trains. There are many subway lines and there are different trains that run on each line. The guide explains that you can be on a local or express train. If you're on a local train, you'll see the train make several stops. If you catch an express one, there are only a few stops so it's going to be quick. The guide also says that it's not a strange occurrence for the express train to become local and vice versa.
Free Tours By Foot says, "New Yorkers don’t call the train lines by their colors, so make sure you are choosing the subway line that you need by letter or number. That’s because even though the blue line shows lines A, C, and E, these train routes eventually split up and you may end up somewhere completely different from where you intended to go."
Get A Metrocard And Remember That NYC Is A Grid
What about paying for the subway? As the NYC Subway Guide explains, "Unlike many other subway systems around the world, there are no zones because you pay the same fare regardless of how far or how long your trip is. The cost of going from one station to a neighboring station (say, a one-minute ride) is the same as traveling from one end of the map to the other (which might take two hours)." You can get a Metrocard and "pay per ride" or get an unlimited card. It's really awesome to have these two options, and once you have a Metrocard in your wallet, you'll feel confident that you can jump on the subway whenever you want.
It's also good to remember that NYC is a grid. Wanderlustingk.com says that when you're interested in taking a subway ride North, that's uptown. When you're going South, you're heading downtown (which is 42nd to 14th street). The website notes that you could see a train that is heading for Brooklyn or the Bronx, but it will also say uptown or downtown, and that's what really matters here.
As Business Insider points out, "If you're in Manhattan, you're either headed uptown towards Queens or downtown towards Brooklyn. Figuring out which direction your destination is closer to will assure you board the right side of the track."
Rely On Some Help
Many people have said that if you get super stuck in the NYC subway, there's really nothing wrong with asking someone that you see passing by. It's good to remember that everyone has been there at one point or another, and it's okay to double-check that you have the subway line that you want. It's better to be safe than sorry, right?
Business Insider says that Google Maps can give you the subway route that you want to take. Put in "travel by train" and see what it gives you. This is a really good idea that would make subway travel so much better since Google Maps is doing all of the major work for you.
Trip Savvy has a really important tip that will also make your subway riding life that much better. When you're paying with your Metrocard, you might not realize that you're heading downtown when you wanted to go uptown. It's smart to be super sure that you're at the correct place before you pay.
While it can definitely be stressful to look at the NYC subway map, these tips and tricks should help you navigate it with a calm smile on your face. Just think of all the fun adventures you'll be able to go on now that you've figured out this mode of public transportation.