Navigating the New York City Subway System

Maneuver Manhattan’s Subway System Like a Local

Anthony Bosco knows Manhattan, and he knows how to get around town with the least amount of hassle. Here, Archer Hotel New York’s chef concierge offers timely tips on navigating the New York City subway system like a boss.

Anthony Bosco
Anthony Bosco, chef concierge at Archer Hotel New York

New York City Subway Maps

If you are like me, you’re partial to a good, old-fashioned paper map to carry in your pocket. The New York City subway maps are a hot commodity and are not as widely distributed as in years past since the start of the internet age and creation of digital maps.

Paper maps can generally be found in the station once you past through the turnstile; If you cannot find a map in the station, you can also visit the MTA website, which has a PDF version you can download and print.

The MetroCard and Subway/Bus Pricing

A single ride on the New York City subway or local bus is $2.75, and the fare for an express bus ride is $6.50. A MetroCard allows one free transfer within two hours of swiping the card; this involves exiting the station and works on buses, as well.

Loading the MetroCard

You can buy a 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard if you think you will use the system for the week (or often for four, five or six days). This card costs $32, which includes unlimited rides on all subway and local buses; it can only be used by one person. A 30-Day MetroCard is also available for purchase.

You can buy a Pay-per-Ride MetroCard and load $5.50 – $80 on it. This card can be used by up to four people (by passing the card back to your friend or family member after you have swiped. For card loads of $5.50 or more, they add  a 5% bonus. This card works well if you will just be using it for a few days and pay per ride.

NOTE: Keep your unused card! The MTA is now charging $1 for each new-card purchase.

Navigating the New York City Subway

New York City Subway — Kilo Rez/Shutterstock.com
New York City Subway — Kilo Rez/Shutterstock.com

It can seem like a daunting task or an endless maze. Here are some ways to zip through our concrete jungle.

Express or local train

I recommend that first-timers or out-of-town visitors always take the local trains. This will help avoid winding up in an unexpected borough if you miss a stop. It’s also a great way to get to know all the stops along the way. Always allow yourself some extra time — as Archer would — and take in the views. You will have plenty of sightings and stories for your friends.

Uptown or Downtown

When you’re in Manhattan, it’s pretty simple to determine if you need to go uptown or downtown. Keep in mind that the Bronx is up and Brooklyn is down. When using the New York City subway system, I always make note of the station that comes before my stop as a sort of alarm clock to get me ready for the actual stop. This is especially helpful when the trains are crowded and you need to reposition yourself.

New York City Subway Insider Tips

  • The front and last cars are always the least crowded.
  • Always let passengers off the train before getting on.
  • Don’t count on the audible announcement of the next stop; at times, the speakers malfunction. Try to position yourself with a view of each stop, which is visible through the window.
  • Try to avoid the rush hours (7 – 10 AM and 4 – 7 PM), which tend to be the most crowded times. One bonus point about using them at these prime hours: faster and more frequent trains; just expect a crowd.
  • Hold on tightly. Even seasoned New Yorkers always hang on — the train can suddenly come to a halting stop or make a complete jerk, tossing riders or whatever they’re holding.
  • Don’t drink or eat anything on the subway. I have seen coffee fly, sodas spill and much more — not to mention what type of dander may be floating around in the air down there.
  • Always keep your wallet in your front pocket and your purse bag or belongings in front of you.
  • Ask someone with a friendly face; most people are happy to direct you. Don’t be afraid to ask — we are not all mean New Yorkers.
  • Station globes at the subway entrances are lit either green or red; green indicates that they are always open. Red indicates that they are closed at night or certain times.

Luxe Accommodations at Archer Hotel New York

Archer Hotel New York
Archer Hotel New York

While you’re visiting this great city, we hope you consider staying at Archer Hotel, on 38th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Archer is well-situated between two metro stops on different lines: 42nd + Bryant Park and 34th + Herald Square.

A few steps from our front door are many ever-so-popular things to do in New York, including Bryant Park, Times Square, the Theatre District, the Empire State Building, and Fifth Avenue shopping. Suitable for all occasions, there is no other hotel in Midtown that makes your trip as comfortable or complete.

Welcome to New York City!

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