Taking the NYC metro doesn’t have to be confusing or intimidating if you follow these practical tips for first time riders on the New York City subway. The NYC Metro is one of the best and easiest ways to get around New York City. This subway system opened back in 1904 and it is one of the oldest public transit systems in the entire world. People can ride the NYC Metro at any time of the day seven days a week. The NYC subway began with twenty-eight stations, but it has grown to a whopping four hundred and seventy-two stations. There are twenty-two interconnected subway routes as well as three permanent shuttle services.
If that all sounds confusing, well, it can be. However, once a person knows the ins and the outs of the Metro, it becomes much easier to navigate.
Here are 15 tips for first time riders on the NYC Subway:
1 NYC Metro Entrances
All the entrances are located on street corners and they have stairs that descend down into the station. There will be one of two balls that mark the station. The red balls mean that a person needs to have a MetroCard to enter the station, while the green balls mean that a person can purchase a MetroCard inside.
2 How to Purchase a MetroCard
People can purchase a MetroCard from any vending machine in a station. Every vending machine takes credit cards, but not all of them will take cash. Any machine that does take cash will only give change in coins, so people will want to have small bills on them if they only want to purchase one ride with cash.
3 Free Transfers
Not many people know that they can get one free transfer within two hours of swiping their MetroCards. This means that a person can get onto the Metro and then transfer to another Metro line for free within two hours. All transfers within the same subway station will be covered. The transfer can also be used subway to bus, bus to subway, or bus to bus. In limited situations, you can use the transfer when you need to transfer to a different station to complete your trip. The easiest way to get and use a transfer is with a Metrocard; the card automatically tracks authorized free transfers.
4 Metro Maps
Thankfully, the Metro is very helpful, because they keep maps of the entire system near the entrances of every single station. Therefore, no one will need to worry about having no idea of where they need to be to get to their destination. Smart phone owners will probably want to download a transit app for help in planning their route. MyTransit NYC is a popular app.
5 Check Signs Before Swiping
Since the Metro can be so confusing, people will want to double check where they are before they swipe their MetroCard. The reason for this is that no refunds can be offered. Anyone that is not sure if they are in the right place should ask an attendant before swiping. Once a person determines that they truly do want to swipe their card, they will want to hold the card with the black stripe down and the word MetroCard facing them. They should swipe in a forward motion, not going too fast or too slow. If in doubt, watch experienced users going through the turnstiles.
6 Rules for Sitting or Standing
Anyone that can find a seat on the Metro is doing well, but there are many times when people will find themselves standing. If that happens, a person should be prepared to hold on tight to a pole, so that they do not fall into someone else. It is courteous to give up your seat for the elderly, pregnant or disabled. Many riders don’t, but karma will get you.
7 Don’t Lean
Yes, a person should hold onto the poles when they are standing, but that doesn’t mean that they can lean on them at any time. Leaning will take a good portion of the pole away from others who need it to hold onto and people will begin to get cranky.
8 Only Sit on the Seats
The seats are for people to sit on, therefore, no one should take an additional seat for their bags or their feet. This will allow as many people as possible to sit and enjoy their ride. This also goes for manspreading – don’t do it!
9 Stay in the Center of the Car
Yes, it is easier to stay near the door, so that a person can exit quickly. However, if too many people stay near the doors, it makes it difficult for other people to get on and off. Keep the doors clear and, if you’re getting on a train, wait for riders to get off first.
10 Emergencies Can Happen
An emergency can occur when a person is on the NYC Metro. Whether a train just breaks down or there’s a more serious accident, be aware and composed. While many people’s first reaction would be to get out of the car as soon as possible, they should do the complete opposite, because the safest place is inside the cars. Follow directions to keep any possible evacuation calm and orderly.
11 Save Money
Anyone who plans on taking the NYC Metro multiple times a day or for a few days in a row, will benefit from purchasing a MetroCard with multiple rides on it. A single fair costs three dollars, but there is a discount per ride if multiple rides are purchased at once. There are also unlimited ride MetroCard options that people can purchase and they are good for thirty days. Note that you are allowed to swipe through other people or give away unexpired cards at the end of your visit, but selling swipes is illegal.
12 Know When to Ride
The best time to ride the NYC Metro is during off-peak hours. During the week, those hours are after the morning rush that lasts until ten and before the evening rush that begins around five. Over 65? You can get reduced rates available only during non-rush hours.
13 Stay Back on the Platform
No one ever wants to end up on the tracks, so people are warned to stay far back on the platforms until the Metro arrives. The yellow paint along the edge of the platform indicates the MINIMUM distance away from the edge that it is safe to stand. Never allow children to approach the edge by themselves. One false step or accidental jostle could spell disaster.
14 Smells are Normal
Don’t be part of the problem. Avoid eating on the subway. Smelly takeout makes life miserable for everyone, as well as encouraging rats, if garbage is left behind.
Some cars may seem to be emptier than others and the reason for that is that homelessness and poverty are real in the city. Anyone that notices an empty car will want to make their way over to another one that will be a little less smelly and free from potential diseases.
15 Secure Belongings
People should remember that this is a major city, therefore it is imperative that everyone keep their belongings close to them and safe. No one should have a wallet or cell phone in their back pocket, because it can disappear quickly if a person decides that they want it. A travel belt is a great investment if you are traveling to any large city. It is not as common to get mugged or injured on the NYC Metro anymore, but some people will do anything to make a quick buck or two. Terrorism concerns are another reason for making sure you keep your belongings close. It’s easier to recognize something out of place if everyone has their items closely held.
The NYC subway can be a wonderful way to get around this large city and see the most that it has to offer. Anyone who is new to the Metro will want to follow the tips above and ask questions if they have any concerns. Everyone should remember that every person who has taken the NYC Metro was a first timer at one time too, so it definitely does get easier with practice.