Those who aren't from New York City with undoubtedly be a little bit thrown off by the subway. With a seemingly chaotic system of lines that run through the city's underground tunnels, it's easy enough to get confused or be unsure of where to enter and exit the subway. Throw metro cards and rail delays, and, suddenly, New York's subway system becomes completely panic-inducing.
The good news is that there are easy ways to navigate the subway, but this isn't that article. This is a list of things that travelers should know before navigating the subway in order to help guide them in the attempt to actually use it. Ready, set, swipe that MetroCard!
10 Familiarize Yourself With The Subway Map
The first step to understanding the subway is knowing the subway. While these maps are plastered all around each subway stop, it's still important to get used to them before actually using one. For those who know where their stops are and where they'll be going, it's easy enough to follow the individual lines and determine where to get on and off beforehand.
9 Download All The Subway Apps
And no, we don't mean subway as in the food chain. MTA has an app specifically tailored to subway users which can come in super handy on the go. This is a great way to check times and lines and to be fully aware of whether there's an inevitable delay or track change at one of them.
8 Eat Before Jumping On The Subway
While many people do opt to eat on the subway car, these are usually seasoned New Yorkers who (hopefully) are not eating anything too messy or stinky. For first-timers, eating beforehand takes some of the pressure off finding food while riding the rails, and won't have other locals staring in disgust at the one person who's eating an onion bagel and dripping cream cheese on the - probably already dirty - seats.
7 Know Your MetroCards Beforehand
There are multiple options for those purchasing MetroCards depending on how often one will be using the subway. The two main options are MetroCards which last 30 days and those which last seven days. Additionally, travelers might opt for the pay-per-ride cards, which rack up a $2.75 charge every time it's used. Most people visiting the city for a week go with the 7-day option, which allows unlimited rides (which are good in the event of a mistake subway stop).
6 Be Prepared To Be Sandwiched In
There are some commuter subways that are notoriously packed, especially in the early mornings or at rush hour when everyone is leaving work. During the week, tourists should either accept that they'll be one with the crowd during these times, or find ways to navigate around them (such as taking a later subway, a taxi, or walking).
5 Don't Be Fooled By Local And Express Stops
One thing that often fools tourists are the express and local stops that subways make. While these are clearly marked on the map with black and white symbols, they still manage to elude first-timers on the subway. Black dots represent 'local' stations, while the white dots represent 'express' stations. For those who need to make a specific stop, it's important to know which lines go there.
4 The Platforms Dictate North And South
Before even getting on the subway, travelers will know whether they're going uptown or downtown. Generally, the stations will state underneath the sign whether or not they're going uptown or downtown. Therefore, passengers will have an idea of whether they're going north or south (two very different things when it comes to traveling throughout the city), which is helpful when it comes to knowing where one is, directionally speaking. To find the train going the opposite way, usually crossing the street to the opposite subway entrance will work.
3 Be Sure There Are No Doubles Or Triples
It's not uncommon for a street to have multiple subway entrances or exits, especially if lines come in and go downtown or uptown. It's important to narrow down which subway stop one means to go to before just heading there because this could mean the difference between ending up on the right line or having to transfer several times in order to get back on the right one.
2 Be Prepared To Ask Questions
It's totally okay - and acceptable - to ask questions when boarding the subway. The locals will know this system like the backs of their hands and it's not likely that it's the first time they've been asked. There should be no shame in asking someone with experience if a certain subway is going to X place, and it can be super helpful in the long run.
1 Seriously, Mind The Gap
There have been times when people have panic-rushed the train and fallen, or have gotten stuck in, the subway gap. These gaps are necessary but falling into them is not. Even if there's a mad rush to get on the subway, it's better to miss the first one rather than run onto the platform without realizing there's a hazard right in front of the subway door. Mind the gap!