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How to Ride the New York City Subway

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A DETAILED guide on how to ride the subway in New York City. Topics include: General New York City Subway Information, planning your trip, tickets, getting in the station, finding your train, riding the train, exiting the station, transfers, and wash your hands! The NYC Subway has 472 stations serving 27 subway lines and runs 24 hours a day. Routes are identified by letters (A,B,C), or numbers (1, 2, 3). In many stations you can’t simply get out of the train and go the other direction. You have to exit the station and re-enter. Make sure you are going the correct direction.

Uptown is typically “North”
Downtown is typically “South”

Express vs Local Trains:
Local trains stop at every stop
Express trains skip stops
The map will show white circles, which are express AND local stops. Black circle only local trains.
New to the subway? Just take the local trains.

Planning your trip:

Get an app: Citymapper
Google Maps works too
Or look at the subway map — free printed ones are available

Tickets: Buy a metro-card for $1, and load it up. Each subway ride is $2.75. Or a single ride ticket is $3.

You can buy or load the metro-card at any subway ticket machine with cash or credit card.
Cash machines are big, but only return $9 in change. Credit/debit machines are small.

There is no “daily” card, but a weekly unlimited ride card is $32

Getting In the Station
Entrance that are always open have green lights
Exit only or part time entrances have red lights or no lights
Be careful of single direction entrances

To get in the station you’ll swipe your metro-card on the turnstile. Either waist high, or full height turnstile. Swipe at a medium speed, then push the turnstile.

Wheelchair, stroller ask the station attendant to open the gate.

Finding your train

Look for the route (letter or number) and direction. In big stations you may be walking for up to 15 minutes.

Make sure its the correct direction, Uptown/Brooklyn is typically “up” (North), Downtown/Brooklyn is “down” (South)

Riding the train
Don’t bother listening to the announcements, think new york accents, lousy microphones, and lousy speakers make it hard to hear. It’s best to count your stops. Know the name of the stop just before yours.

Don’t stare at people
Don’t get on an empty car. It either smells, or the AC is broken.
Remove your backpack, if you’re sitting put in on our lap.
Stay awake… you might miss your stuff, and your stuff might get stolen. Yes, pickpockets operate on the NYC subway.
If you’re standing, hold on to the railing. Locals might not be, but they are used to the motion.

Exiting the station
Simply push on the turnstile, you don’t need to swipe out

Transfers
Your Metrocard swipe is valid for two hours for transfers to buses from the subway, bus to bus, OR bus to subway. But not SUBWAY to SUBWAY. You need to take a “bus” to make this work.

Finally
Wash your hands or use some hand sanitizer when you leave the subway. Definitely don’t eat anything until your hands are clean.

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13 Comments
  1. wesker562 says

    Hello !
    This is Felix 😃

  2. Gabe Blomkamp says

    love you and your videos mate! keep it up

  3. Mermaid Harmony says

    I’ve been to NYC

  4. Jose Ramos says

    5:20 don't bother listening to the announcements? Actually it's good to keep an ear open as sometimes sudden changes occur (might skips stops or next stop might be last stop) while on the train. Some trains use automated voices while others have a live person saying what stop is next. Depends on the train. No app will tell you in real-time if there's a delay up ahead,whether that be a police investigation or the always fun "sick passenger" announcement. If you're a tourist, you should pay even more attention. The Wifi also works only when the train pulls up to the station. It dies when it goes inside the tunnel. All stations are Wifi enabled. If anything,ask an MTA attendant or the train conductor before boarding,if you have any questions.

  5. Richard McCarley says

    $2.75 for a trip to hell! What a bargain lol

  6. David Chen says

    Thank you Chris, this is really helpful. David and Ann.

  7. jaysato says

    dammit now i wanna go back to new york again.

  8. jaysato says

    if you ever watch old clips of the new york subway it looked really filthy. it looks way better now and a little cleaner. also whenever i think of the new york subway, i think of Seinfeld when Kramer is on the train fighting for a seat and fighting for that newspaper.

  9. John Dunbar says

    Thanks for another great video

  10. Jose Juarez says

    Very accurate !! Keep up the good work !

  11. Just Swell - A Surf Channel says

    Great video as always. Subway surfer 🏄‍♀️

  12. Scottman895 Travel says

    These are some very helpful tips about riding the subway in NYC! I still need to make a trip over there someday. I'll have to remember that Citymapper app as I know that will be very helpful!

  13. Yippie says

    I like #9 :)… So true. Not like Tokyo.

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