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New York City Subway Guide
Riding the NYC Subway Made Easy

The New York City Subway System is the largest subway system in the world, with 468 train stations and 26 subway lines. In 2006, ridership reached an all time high of 4.9 million trips per day. That's one massive subway system used very frequently!

One of the first questions that any one visiting NYC usually asks is, "should I use the subway system to get around town?" The answer to that question is a definite yes. Most natives will tell you that there is no better way to get around New York City then riding the subway. Its faster then driving (particularly in Manhattan), its relatively clean, and safe if you follow some easy suggestions. New York Subway Station Take a look at our New York City Subway Guide which will give you great tips on getting around the New York City quickly, safely and for the least amount of money.

Planning to Use the Subway

If you are planning on using the subway to travel around the city, then the very first thing you should do is get a copy of a train map even if you've never been able to read a map in your entire life. They are easy to use and extremely easy to get both before you arrive in the city and after.

Download the Official NYC Subway Map - click here

Buy a Pocket-sized Map - Rand McNally

Ask for a free map at any Subway Station

Reading the Subway Map

Once you have your map in hand, look for the map key, which any decent map should have. The key on a subway map will indicate how you can tell the difference between a local and express stop and what other train lines you can transfer to at that station.

Express and Local Trains

Being able to tell the difference between a local and express train and the difference between a local and express train stop is one of the most important things to learn, and will save you a lot of time and frustration.

On the official New York City map, the express stops are indicated by a white circle or bar. All trains on that line stop at express stops (yes even the local trains). Local stops are indicated by a black circle or bar. If the stop you want has a black circle next to it, don't get on an express train unless you hear an announcement that says the train is making "all local stops".

Transferring Between Trains

The ability to transfer between lines is one of the things that makes using the subway so quick and easy. If you again refer to the map key, you'll see that the black or white "bars" indicate that you can catch trains from multiple lines at that station.

Another way the map indicates that more than one train line runs on a particular route is that several letters or numbers are listed along the route. For an example, find Central Park on your map. If you look immediately to the left you'll see that the A, C, B and D trains all run along Central Park on the west side and you can transfer between those 4 train lines at any of those stations along the way.

Uptown or Downtown

If you are riding the subway in Manhattan, navigating the subway system is very easy. Manhattan is set up so that the streets run across town from east to west, and the avenues run north and south. The southernmost part of Manhattan, or Downtown, has named streets, but as you travel uptown and reach 1st street, navigation is simple from there.

So, as logic would tell you, if you're entering the subway system at 14th street and you're trying to get to 59th street you need an uptown train.

Here are a few more subway map reading tips.

  1. Make note of the station before... - If you keep in mind the station before the one you plan to get off at, you won't have to wait till you see your station to move towards the doors. Very helpful if the train is crowded or you're traveling with a group.
  2. In Manhattan, the Bronx is up, Brooklyn is down - Bronx bound trains are always heading uptown and Brooklyn bound trains are always heading downtown.

Now that you can read the subway map, go on to Part 2 of these instructions and find out how much the subway costs, where to ride on the train and other great tidbits.

Subway Instructions Part 2 - How much, where to stand, more...
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