Trip to New York City Getting Around

Trip to New York City

If you are planning a trip to New York City, you should familiarize yourself with the different methods of transportation.

New York Trips – Getting Around New York City
Under normal circumstances, New York City is easy to navigate. However, in light of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and long-term bridge and tunnel reconstruction, subway service in lower Manhattan changes frequently and with short notice, which in turn affects the entire system. Pay attention to service changes posted in stations and listen carefully to any announcements you may hear in trains and on subway platforms. Also, due to heightened security at all Hudson and East River crossings, vehicles entering the city are subject to police search, and noncommercial single-occupant vehicles are prohibited from entering lower Manhattan during certain times of the day. Take mass transit whenever possible and always allow yourself extra time to get to your destination while on a trip to New York City.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
The MTA runs the subways and buses, as well as a number of the commuter services to points outside Manhattan. You can download the most current maps from its website.

Trips to New York – Buses

nyc bus

nyc bus

MTA buses are fine, but only if you aren’t in a hurry. If your feet hurt from walking around, a bus is a good way to continue your sightseeing. They’re white and blue with a route number (in Manhattan, look for the ones that begin with an “M”) and a digital destination sign. The fare is $1.50, payable either with a token or MetroCard or in exact change (silver coins only). Express buses usually head to the outer boroughs; these cost $3. Also be sure to check for New York bus tours, a great way to see NYC.

MetroCards allow automatic transfers from bus to bus and between buses and subways. If you use a token or coins and you’re traveling uptown or downtown and want to catch a crosstown bus (or vice versa), ask the driver for a transfer when you get on—you’ll be given a ticket for use on the second leg of your journey. You can rely on other passengers for advice, but maps are posted on most buses and at all subway stations; they’re also available from NYC & Company. Buses make only designated stops, but between 10pm and 5am you can ask the driver to stop anywhere along the route. All buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts. Contact the MTA for further information. There are many sites to see in New York, and the subway allows you to easily access most of these attractions in NYC.

New York Trip – Driving

Manhattan drivers are fearless, and taking to the streets is not for the faint of heart. If you’re going to be tooling around the city, try to restrict your driving to evening hours, when traffic is lighter and on-street parking is available. Even then, keep your eyes on the road and stay alert. New York will honor all valid foreign driver’s licenses during your trip to New York City.

New York City Trip – Parking

Don’t ever park within 15 feet (5 meters) of a fire hydrant, and make sure you read the parking signs. Unless there is metered parking, most streets have alternate-side-of-the-street parking—i.e., each side is off-limits for certain hours every other day. The New York City Department of Transportation (212-225-5368) provides information on daily changes to parking regulations. If precautions fail, call 212-971-0770 for car towing and impoundment information.


Citywide Towing
514 W 39th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves (212-924-8104). 24 hrs. Repairs 8am–6pm. AmEx, MC, V.
All types of repairs are done on foreign and domestic autos.

24-hour gas stations

610 Broadway at Houston St (212-473-5924). AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V.
No repairs.

502 W 45th St at Tenth Ave (212-245-6594). AmEx, Disc, MC, V.
No repairs.

2420 Amsterdam Ave at 181st St (212-928-3100). AmEx, Disc, MC, V.

Visiting NYC – Subways

NYC Subway

NYC Subway

No trip to New York City is complete without a train ride. Subways are the fastest way to get around town during the day, and despite their dangerous, dirty reputation, they’re cleaner and safer than they’ve been in 20 years. The city’s system is one of the world’s largest and cheapest—$1.50 will get you from the depths of Brooklyn to the northernmost reaches of the Bronx, and anywhere in between. Trains run around the clock, but with sparse service and fewer riders at night, it’s advisable (and usually quicker) to take a cab after 10pm.

Several routes in lower Manhattan were affected by the WTC catastrophe, so be aware of service notices posted in stations and on platforms. You can also ask MTA workers in token booths for a map. In addition, ongoing system improvements have resulted in several changes. New high-tech subway trains began running in summer 2000 and will eventually replace all of the ’60s-era “Red Bird” trains seen mainly on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines. Because of long-term Manhattan Bridge repair work, two new subway lines—the V and the W—were recently added, and changes occurred to the B, D and Q trains (in Manhattan, these are the orange lines along Sixth Avenue and the yellow ones along Broadway).

To ensure safety, don’t stand too close to the edge of the platform, and board the train during nonrush hours from the off-peak waiting area, marked at the center of every platform (this area is safer because it’s monitored by cameras; it’s also where the conductor’s car often stops). More advice: Hold your bag with the opening facing you, and don’t wear flashy jewelry.

Trip to New York – MetroCards & tokens

Entry to the system requires a MetroCard or a token costing $1.50 (both also work on buses), which you can buy from a booth inside the station entrance. Many stations are equipped with brightly colored MetroCard vending machines that accept cash, debit cards and credit cards (AmEx, Disc, MC, V).

If you’re planning to use the subway (or buses) a lot, it’s worth buying a MetroCard during your trip to New York, which is also available at some stores and hotels. Free transfers between subways and buses are available only with the MetroCard. There are two types: pay-per-use cards and unlimited-ride cards. Any number of passengers can use the pay-per-use cards, which start at $3 for two trips and run as high as $80. A $15 card offers 11 trips for the price of 10. The unlimited-ride MetroCard (an incredible value for frequent users) is offered in three amounts: a 1-day Fun Pass ($4, available at station vending machines but not at booths), a 7-day pass ($17) and a 30-day pass ($63). These are good for unlimited rides on the subway or buses but can only be used once every 18 minutes (so only one person can use the card at a time).

Trip to New York – Subway lines

Trains are known by letters or numbers and are color-coded according to the line on which they run. Stations are named after the street at which they’re located. Entrances are marked with a green globe (a red globe marks an entrance that is not always open). Many stations (and most of the local stops) have separate entrances to the uptown and downtown platforms – look before you pay (see Walking, page 363, for an explanation of the city’s streets). Express trains run between major stops; local trains stop at every station. Check a subway map (posted in all stations; see also pages 409–411) before you board. Be sure to look for posted notices indicating temporary changes to a particular line.

Trip to New York – Taxis & Car Services


Yellow cabs are hardly ever in short supply—except in the rain and at around 4 or 5pm, when rush hour gets going and many cabbies – annoyingly – end their shifts. If the center light on top of the taxi is lit, it means the cab is available and should stop if you flag it down. Jump in and then tell the driver where you’re going (New Yorkers give cross streets, not building numbers).

Taxis carry up to four people for the same price: $2 plus 30¢ per fifth of a mile, with an extra 50¢ charge after 8pm. This makes the average fare for a three-mile (4.5km) ride $5 to $7, depending on traffic and time of day. Keep in mind that these rates are likely to increase by nearly 25 percent, sometime in 2002. Cabbies rarely allow more than four passengers in a cab (it’s illegal), though it may be worth asking. Smoking in cabs is prohibited, but some cabbies won’t object.

Some cabbies’ knowledge of the further reaches of the city is lamentably meager, so it helps if you know where you’re going—and speak up. By law, taxis cannot refuse to take you anywhere inside the city limits (the five boroughs), so don’t be duped by a cabbie who is too lazy to drive you to Brooklyn or the airport. In general, tip a buck; if the fare is high, 15 percent. If you have a problem, take down the medallion number and driver’s number that are posted on the partition. Or ask for a receipt—there’s a meter number on it. To complain or trace lost property, call the Taxi and Limousine Commission (212-692-8294, Mon–Fri 9am–5pm).

Late at night, cabbies stick to fast-flowing routes and reliably lucrative areas. Try the avenues and key streets (Canal, Houston, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 86th). Bridge and tunnel exits are also good for a steady flow from the airports, and passengerless cabbies will usually head for nightclubs and big hotels. Otherwise, try the following:

Chatham Square, where Mott St meets the Bowery, is an unofficial taxi stand. You can also try hailing a cab exiting the Manhattan Bridge at the Bowery and Canal St.

Lincoln Center
The crowd heads toward Columbus Circle for a cab; those in the know go to Amsterdam Ave.

Lower East Side
Katz’s Deli (Houston St at Ludlow St) is a cabbies’ hangout; otherwise, try Delancey St, where cabs come in over the Williamsburg Bridge.

Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal attract cabs through the night, as does the Port Authority Bus Terminal (Eighth Ave between 40th and 42nd Sts).

If you’re on the west side, try Sixth Ave; east side, the gas station on Houston St at Broadway.

Times Square
This busy area has 30 taxi stands – look for the yellow globes atop nine-foot poles.

Cabs here (many arriving from the Holland Tunnel) head up Hudson St. Canal St is also a good bet.

Car services
Car services are also regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (see above). What makes them different from a cab is that they aren’t yellow and they can only offer prearranged pick-ups. Don’t try to hail them and be wary of those that offer you a ride; they may not be licensed or insured and you might get ripped off. (If you see a black Lincoln Town Car, most likely it’s a car service; to be sure, look for a license plate that begins with the letter t.)

The following companies will pick you up anywhere in the city, at any time of day or night, for a prearranged fare.



Tel Aviv

Tri-State Limousine

Attractions in New York City – Walking

Walking can be healthy, and a fun way to spend your trip to New York City. One of the best ways to take in NYC is on foot. Most of the streets are part of a grid system and are relatively easy to navigate. Manhattan is divided into three major sections: downtown, or all neighborhoods south of 14th Street; midtown, roughly the area from 14th to 59th Street; and uptown, or the rest of the island north of 59th Street.

Generally, avenues run along the length of Manhattan from south to north. They are parallel to one another and are logically numbered with a few exceptions (such as Broadway and Columbus and Lexington Avenues). Manhattan’s center is Fifth Avenue, so all buildings located east of it will have “East” addresses, with numbers going higher toward the East River, and those west of it will have “West” numbers that go higher toward the Hudson River. Streets also run parallel to each other but they run east to west, or crosstown, and are numbered, beginning with 1st Street (a block north of East Houston Street), up to 220th Street. Almost all even-numbered streets run east and odd streets run west (the major crosstown streets, such as 42nd Street, are two-way).

The neighborhoods that define lower Manhattan – the Financial District, Tribeca, Chinatown, Soho and Greenwich Village – were settled prior to urban planning and can be confusing to walk through (but it’s worth the effort, because they have some of the nicest blocks). These streets lack logical organization, so it is best to use a map, or to ask a passerby for directions. Remember to be safe and enjoy visiting NYC.

I hope that this helps you in your trip to New York City.

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