Travel Tips

Getting Around New York City By Subway

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The subway system operates 24/7 and connects all 5 boroughs. Most subway stations are handicapped-accessible. NYC’s subway system is operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Used every day by nearly 5 million people, New York City subways travel above and underground.

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The subway system operates 24/7 and connects all 5 boroughs. Most subway stations are handicapped-accessible. NYC’s subway system is operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). New York City’s subway system is by far, the most efficient way to get around New York City. Subway trains are often much faster than any other ground transportation option. Used every day by nearly 5 million people, New York City subways travel above and underground.

New York City Subway Fares

The MetroCard, and other prepaid cards are only forms of payment accepted for New York City subway transportation. You can view the MTA website for the most up-to-date price list. Typically, there is a fixed price for the general public and that price is halved for seniors and people with disabilities.

New York City Subway Routes and Lines

New York City currently has 468 stations and 24 train routes in use. These routes serve Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Each route has a color designation and a label to indicate if it is express or local. Every subway line in New York City has its own color designation and every subway route has a number or letter. When referring to a particular subway route, most people will use the subway’s number or letter. So, it’s quite common to hear a New York Native say something like: “Take the A Train”.

Express and Local Subway Trains

In Manhattan, you will often see trains with different names sharing the same line. In these cases, it is usually because one train is an express train and the other is a local train. Express trains will skip various stops along the route while local train will stop at each subway station. Most local stations are approximately about 9 blocks apart.

New York City Subway Directions

For most New York City subways, the direction is always uptown or downtown. The uptown direction is northbound while the downtown direction is southbound. Most subway cars are equipped with a Public Announcement (PA) system that provides announcements from the conductor. The conductor usually announces the direction of the subway as well as the following station.

New York City Subway Stations

Many New York City subway stations are located underground. Visitors enter the subway station by taking stairs downwards towards the station. Once in the station passengers can use station booths and vending machines to purchase their fare through a MetroCard. Once a customer has swiped their MetroCard at a turnstile, they can proceed to the platform of the subway station. New York City platforms are quite large and can accommodate a large number of people.

New York City Subway Map

The New York City Metro Map features all of the city’s multi-colored subway lines along with their routes. The MTA publishes several versions of New York City’s subway map online or in published form. Additionally, you can refer to the NYC Metro Map provided in our visitor’s guide. When visiting New York City, you can ask for a free map from the subway booth clerk or your hotel’s lobby. Most popular hotels carry subway maps because it is the most convenient way to get around the Big Apple.

New York City Subway Schedules

In general, trains run every 2 to 5 minutes during rush hours (6:30 – 9:30 a.m., and 3:30 – 8 p.m., Monday through Friday), every 5 to 10 minutes during the midday (9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday), every 5 to 15 minutes in the evening (8 p.m. – midnight), and about every 20 minutes between midnight and 6:30 a.m.

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Friendly Advice

Along with having the station names at the entrance, subway stations are also designated by large globes. A green globe indicates that the station sells MetroCards and tokens. A red globe indicates that the station has no token booths.

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