How to Use the NYC Subway System

Group One: Samuel A-Y., Victor O., Elmer R., Jorge S., Tatyana S.

Prof. Bugg

LIB 1201

19 May 2014

Travelling through New York City by subway can be a daunting experience for those who have lived here their entire lives. They might have gotten used to being underground for extended periods of time and commuting via subway is now second nature to them. As with every experience, there was a first time that those people climbed those steps or descended into subway station for the first time. This project is for those people who will be commuting in New York City via subway for the first time. For our presentation, we focused on aspects of commuting by subway that every first time straphanger ought to be aware of.

Having a definite idea of where you want to go. Finding a map of the area you wish to go to is one thing, knowing if a train is nearby is another. Once you’ve found the location you’d like to visit on a map, you can cross reference it with train station locations. is a great place to start planning your route. Online search engines such as Bing and Google are also good places to peruse maps that show where stations are located. Both options give you timetables of when trains arrive, whether there are options or transfer points, and also show you where you can catch a train after you input your starting point and destination. After you get that vital information, it’s time to go outside and find a subway station.

Look for the green light. Subway stations are often painted green or have green lamps situated at their entrances. Elevated train stations and subterranean stations have signs affixed to them indicating the train line, direction of the train (e.g. Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn Bound etc.), and, if applicable, the hours of operation for that particular station . Upon entering the subway station, maps are located near the entrances/exits of subway station. “You are here” maps of the local area are posted near the entrance/exit. You can ask for a free map at the subway station booths where an attendant is present. Updated stations have digital timetables that show the arrival times of trains at that station. The all important MetroCard can be purchased here at a subway station booth (accepts cash only) or a MetroCard vending machine (accepts cash/credit). You can’t get through the turnstile without a MetroCard.

The MetroCard is a refillable fare holder. When you buy a new MetroCard, there is a $1 surcharge in addition to the amount you’ve put into the card. Depending upon your needs, there are several options to choose from when selecting a MetroCard. There’s the Single Ride which costs $2.75 and is only available at vending machines. You can opt for the Pay-per-Ride card if you’re going to occasionally travel by public transportation. Lastly there’s the unlimited ride option if you’re planning on riding the rails frequently weekly or monthly. A good thing about the latter two options is that they can both be put on the same card meaning you have the choice of adding value or adding time to your MetroCard. The time added will be used before the value added. For example, if you buy a 7-day unlimited card and subsequently add a dollar amount of $10.00 to your card, the week of unlimited rides would have to expire before the dollar amount would be used. The base fare is $2.50 per ride. When you add $5 or more to your card, you receive a five percent more as bonus. Unlimited rides cost $30 for a seven day pass or $112 for a 30 day pass.

After figuring out where you want to go, finding a subway station and purchasing a MetroCard, you can finally get on a train. Look around for signs that indicate the same train and direction you want to travel. Once the train arrives and you board it, there will be more maps to survey, in some instances a route map and a full map of subway lines. Newer trains have LED displays of the map route, number of stops, and the time of day.

When you’ve arrived at your desired stop, you still might have to walk to your final destination. If it’s a long walk, your MetroCard allows you to transfer to a local bus free of charge. The window of usage for the free transfer lasts for two hours after you use your card and works once per ride for train to bus or bus to train transfers.

For more detailed information on how to use the subway system and MetroCard usage, is an excellent place to start.

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