Practical Life in New York City


Transport in New York City


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Public Transportation in New York

Manhattan's grid pattern and extensive public transportation system make it one of the easier cities to get around in the United States. Residents and visitors pack every stop on the system, the largest in North America, spanning a 5,000-square-mile area.

Manhattan Transportation Authority (MTA) is responsible for all of the transportation needs in New York City. Subways, buses, and railroads provide 2.6 billion trips each year to New Yorkers and MTA bridges and tunnels carry more than 300 million vehicles a year. The subway system, which operates 24 hours a day, it is used by 5.6 million passengers daily.

We recommend a good map and access to online maps to help you navigate, as well as NYC Transportation Maps at MTA.info/maps.

Subway in NYC

The Subway is the main form of public transportation in New York City, as well as the fastest and cheapest way to travel around the city.

Because of the massive amounts of people the subway moves, it is not always the cleanest and it can be very crowded during peak hours which can make it uncomfortable, or at the worst, dangerous. However, the system is one of the best in the USA.

Though transportation runs 24 hours, certain lines limit their runs during night time hours. In general, trains run every 2 to 5 minutes during rush hours (6:30 - 9:30 a.m., and 3:30 - 8 p.m., from Monday to Friday), every 5 to 10 minutes during the midday (9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday to 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.

The New York City subway includes 472 stations serving 27 subway lines - more than any other system in the world. Routes are identified by letters, such as A, B, C or numbers, and they serve Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens (Staten Island is served by the Staten Island Railway (SIR)).

North-South subway lines are denoted by numbered streets (except in Lower Manhattan where it can be a bit confusing), each being preceded by W for the West and E for the East.

Ask for a map at any ticket window to familiarize yourself with the transportation system or look/download it on-line map at Mta.info/nyct/maps/submap

NYC Subway Fares and Tickets

The subway fare is $2.75 whatever the distance and the payment is made with a magnetic Metrocard (which can be bought as per ride or daily/monthly passes). If you pay your fare with MetroCard, you may transfer free from bus-to-subway, subway-to-bus or bus-to-bus within two hours of the time you paid your fare. Unlimited Ride MetroCard also includes all transfers free of charge.

Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult. Reduced fares also apply to seniors 65 or older and customers with disabilities.

To ride the NYC subway, swipe your MetroCard through the slot in the top of the turnstile. Walk through when the turnstile turns green.
Standard MetroCard Fares

  • Base Pay-Per-Ride fare: $2.75
  • Single ride fare: $3.00 (available at vending machines only)
  • 30-Day Unlimited Ride: $127
  • 7-Day Unlimited Ride: $33
  • Express Bus: $6.75
  • Express Bus Plus 7-Day: $62 

Reduced Fares - Apply to seniors 65 or older and customers with disabilities

  • Subway, Local Bus, Select Bus: $1.35
  • 30-Day Unlimited Ride: $63
  • 7-Day Unlimited Ride: $16.50

For more information, call 1-718-330-1234. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Non-English speaking customers may call 1-718-330-4847 and hearing impaired customers may call 1-718-596-8273 (TTY).

Buses in NYC

The bus is usually less crowded than the subway, but it may take longer and can be more complicated to use.

Bus stops are usually located at street corners and have a tall, round sign with a bus emblem and route number. Most stops also include a "Guide-A-Ride," which is a rectangular box attached to the bus sign pole that displays a route map and bus schedule.

There is also the Long Island Bus (LI Bus) which is part of a regional transportation network with bus/rail connections at 48 LIRR stations and service to five NYC Transit subways.

For travel outside the city, long distance passenger buses like Greyhound can get you almost anywhere in the country.

NYC Bus Fares and Tickets

The basic fare is $2.75 and can be purchased with a magnetic Metrocard, or exact change. The fare for an express bus ride is $6.75. If you qualify for reduced fare (seniors 65 or older and customers with disabilities), you can travel for half fare.

If you pay your fare with MetroCard, you may transfer free from bus-to-subway, subway-to-bus or bus-to-bus within two hours of the time you paid your fare. Unlimited Ride MetroCard also includes all transfers free of charge.

Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult. Infants (under two years of age) ride express buses free if the child sits on the lap of the accompanying adult.  
In any case, the best way to travel around NYC by public transport is purchasing a MetroCard. You can buy MetroCard in different fares:
Standard MetroCard Fares

  • Base Pay-Per-Ride fare: $2.75
  • Single ride fare: $3.00 (available at vending machines only)
  • 30-Day Unlimited Ride: $127
  • 7-Day Unlimited Ride: $33
  • Express Bus: $6.75
  • Express Bus Plus 7-Day: $62 

Reduced Fares - Apply to seniors 65 or older and customers with disabilities

  • Subway, Local Bus, Select Bus: $1.35
  • 30-Day Unlimited Ride: $63
  • 7-Day Unlimited Ride: $16.50
  • Express Bus (off-peak only): $3.35

Trains in New York
Metro-North is in charge of local train service and is a subsidiary of New York State's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. This is one of the nation's preeminent railroads with over 80 million riders per year. There are 775 miles of track and 120 stations in New York State.
The Grand Central Terminal in New York City is the main station. The Grand Central is open to the public daily from 5:30am to 2am.
Amtrak is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, a government-owned corporation that was organized to provide intercity passenger train service along the United States.

Boat/Ferry in New York City

The Staten Island Ferry is the only non-vehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan. It is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City as it provides unsurpassed views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and lower Manhattan for free. Over 20 million people a year take the 25 minute ride between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan.

The New York Water Taxi offers commuter and sightseeing service to points along the East and Hudson River. During the warmer months, the New York Water Taxi also operates a Hop-on/Hop-off service on weekends only primarily for tourists ($37 for one day pass).

The Liberty Water Taxi is another water taxi service that operates in New York between the World Financial Centre in Manhattan and Jersey City (New Jersey). Round Trip costs $14.

NYC Airports

Queens is home to New York City's two major airports:

Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey is also an airport frequently used for travel in and out of New York.
All airports are connected to public transport, but there are several options to get from the airports to the city.

John F. Kennedy International Airport

JFK airport is the busiest airport in the United States serving around 58 million passengers annually.

To get to and from JFK airport, there are several options:

  • Taxi: There are clearly marked pick-up areas and help desks that can call a cab for passengers. Taxis into the city take anywhere from 30-60 minutes and cost $52 "Flat Fare" between the airport and Manhattan. This does not include bridge tolls and tip.
  • Airtrain : Runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year between terminals. AirTrain is free unless you start or end your journey at Jamaica and Howard Beach Stations. There, the fee is $7.75 USD, payable only by Metrocard. At Jamaica, take the E, J or Z metro lines, and at Howard Beach, you can take the A line. All NYC Subway fares are separate from AirTrain, but they can be paid using any MetroCard. The fare is $2.75 USD.
  • Shuttle / Airport Bus: There are several private options, including New York Airport Service Express Bus which is $19 to Manhattan. Travelers pay cash to the bus driver or buy tickets online or through the app. The busses operate once every 30 minutes between 11am and 7pm.
  • Gray Line: Offers door-to-door shared van service between JFK Airport and Manhattan hotels for $21 one way.

LaGuardia Airport

LGA is the smallest of the three airports, yet it still receives 30 million passengers per year. Most flights from LaGuardia go to destinations within the US and Canada, as well as service to Aruba and the Bahamas.

To get to and from LGA, there are several options

  • Bus: Several city bus lines link LGA to the New York Metro system. Connections run to Manhattan, Queens and beyond. Bus numbers are Q70 SBS LaGuardia Link and M60 SBS (All terminals), Q33 (Central Terminal only), Q48 (All terminals), Q72 (Central Terminal only), and Q47 (Marine Air Terminal only – Terminal A, with connection to the 7, E, F, M, R subway lines at 74 St/Roosevelt Ave or the M60 SBS to Manhattan). A one-way trip on MTA buses or subways costs $2.75
  • Prívate Bus: There are also many private bus lines operating express buses to Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Long Island. For a complete list of companies operating at LaGuardia Airport visit: Laguardiaairport.com/
  • Taxi: There are clearly marked pick-up areas and help desks that can call a cab for passengers. A taxi ride into Manhattan takes anywhere from 50 – 90 minutes depending on traffic, and costs around $35-$50 not including tolls and tip.

For a map of the terminals, bus stops and taxi pick-up zones visit: Mta.info/nyct/service/pdf/ and Laguardiaairport.com/

Newark Liberty International Airport

Newark (EWR) is the tenth busiest airport in the United States and the nation's fifth busiest international air gateway serving around 36.3 million passengers. This was also the first major airport in the New York area opening on October 1, 1928.

To get to and Newark Airport, there are several options:

  • AirTrain Newark: A monorail system that connects the terminals with the Newark Liberty International Airport Rail Link Station. It provides easy connections to and from NJ transit, PATH and Amtrak through one gateway: Newark Liberty International Airport Station. Customers may purchase a ticket to ride on AirTrain from NJ Transit or Amtrak at their train stations, ticket offices or ticketing machines and the AirTrain Newark fee will be included - one ticket does it all. AirTrain arrives and departs every three minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight and approximately every 15 minutes between midnight and 5 a.m. On Saturday, the train arrives and departs approximately every 15 minutes from 10 pm to 5 am. Night-time operation is a shuttle service which requires transfer of trains. Shuttles generally run from the Airport Station to Terminal C, Terminal C to Terminal A, and Terminal A to Station P2.
  • Bus: Service is available through NJ Transit Bus Lines go 28, 37, 62, 67, 107. For schedules and information, visit the NJ TRANSIT website.
  • Express Bus: Runs between Newark Liberty International Airport & New York City. The Express Bus runs from 5 a.m. until 1 a.m., 365 days a year. The cost is $18 for one way, or $30 for round trip. Each bus stops at all 3 New York stops.
  • Taxi: A ride into Manhattan costs around $50-$70, $85 to JFK International Airport and $46 to Jersey city. For a complete list of prices visit https://www.newarkairport.com/

Be careful with yourself and your belongings and ignore offers of transportation from solicitors in the terminal. Go to ground transportation information counters, bus stops, and taxi dispatchers for safe and legitimate transportation. Ignore non-uniformed persons offering to assist with baggage.

Taxis in NYC

The yellow cab is a trademark of New York City and it is as vital an experience as any of New York's other attractions. The downside with having an abundance of cabs is the traffic that results. Most traffic-jams in mid-town are speckled with many of the over 13,500 registered yellow cabs that service the city.

Taxi Stands are located at major transit hubs, hotels, office and retail centres, and hospitals throughout Manhattan. At these locations, on-duty taxi drivers have the right to wait to pick up passengers. Rates signs are posted on the front doors of each taxicab.

The Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) is in charge of regulating licenses, setting and enforcing the fare rate in taxis, limiting taxi lease rates, and overseeing the sale of taxi medallions. Moreover, its responsibilities also include protecting public safety and consumer rights.

Fares and Charges for Taxis in NYC

Cabs are relatively expensive for a single person, but they can actually be a bargain with 3 or more riders. Travelers can pay for a taxi ride in cash or by credit or debit. If paying in cash, it is recommended to bring small change because drivers can't usually break anything higher than $20.

Just like most services in the US, tipping is expected. 15-20% is normal, and if the driver helps you with bags, it is also polite to tip at least a dollar per bag.

Take your receipt to record any problems or note the taxi identification number. For compliments, complaints or lost Property, call 311 (if outside NYC call: 212-NEW-YORK), check its website on: Nyc.gov/site/ or go online at visit 311 Online. For Taxicab Rider Bill of Rights, check out the government website: Nyc.gov/site/tlc/passengers/passenger-rights

Standard Metered Fare

    • $2.50 initial charge.
    • Plus 50 cents per 1/5 mile when traveling above 12mph or per 60 seconds in slow traffic or when the vehicle is stopped.
    • Plus 50 cents MTA State Surcharge for all trips that end in New York City or Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange or Putnam Counties.
    • Plus 30 cents Improvement Surcharge.
    • Plus 50 cents overnight surcharge 8pm to 6am.
    • Plus $1.00 rush hour surcharge from 4pm to 8pm on weekdays, excluding holidays.
    • Plus New York State Congestion Surcharge of $2.50 (Yellow Taxi) or $2.75 (Green Taxi and FHV) or 75 cents (any shared ride) for all trips that begin, end or pass through Manhattan south of 96th Street.
    • Plus tips and any tolls.
    • There is no charge for extra passengers, luggage or bags, or paying by credit card.
    • The on-screen rate message should read: "Rate #01 – Standard City Rate."
  • Tolls
    • Drivers must use an E-ZPass when taking a toll bridge or tunnel. Discounted E-ZPass tolls will be added to the passenger fare at the end of the trip.
    • Passengers must pay the tolls to and from a destination for the following trips:
      • Westchester and Nassau Counties
      • Trips over the Cross Bay Veterans and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridges
      • Newark Airport (EWR)
  • Airport Trips
    • Trips to and from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) are charged the standard metered fare.
    • Trips between Manhattan and John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in either direction:
      • $52
      • Plus 50 cents MTA State Surcharge.
      • Plus 30 cents Improvement Surcharge.
      • $4.50 rush hour surcharge (4pm to 8pm weekdays, excluding legal holidays).
      • Plus New York State Congestion Surcharge of $2.50 (Yellow Taxi) or $2.75 (Green Taxi and FHV) or 75 cents (any shared ride) for all trips that begin, end or pass through Manhattan south of 96th Street.
      • Plus tips and any tolls.
      • The on-screen rate message should read "Rate #2- JFK Airport."
    • Trips between John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) and other New York City destinations are charged the standard metered fare ($52)
    • Trips to Newark Airport (EWR):
      • Standard metered fair.
      • Plus $17.50 Newark Surcharge.
      • Plus 30 cents Improvement Surcharge.
      • Plus New York State Congestion Surcharge of $2.50 (Yellow Taxi) or $2.75 (Green Taxi and FHV) or 75 cents (any shared ride) for all trips that begin, end or pass through Manhattan south of 96th Street.
      • Plus tip and tolls to and from EWR (passengers are charged for the drivers' return tolls).
      • The on-screen rate message should read "Rate #3 - Newark Airport."

Car Rentals in New York

Most car rental companies have outlets at airports, as well as points throughout the city. To book your rental car, you can find the best deals by reserving online. Most companies also offer a phone number to help customers with any questions they may have while also taking reservations by phone. Companies will require a major credit card to reserve a car.

To rent a car internationally, it is necessary to have an international driver's license or a country license and an international permit.

Basics on renting and driving a car in America:

  • American drive on the right side of the road.
  • Speed limits range from an urban low of 25 mph (40 km/h) to a high of of 65 mph (105 km/h). Speed limits are strictly enforced.
  • The driver needs to be 25 years or older. Nevertheless, drivers younger than 25 can be offered to pay an extra rental fee of $25 more.
  • It is illegal to pick-up hitchhikers.
  • It is highly recommended to buy liability insurance to prepare for the unexpected. Or check your credit card for included insurance.

On a day-to-day rental, a car will cost (without insurance) about $55.

Major Rental Companies:


Update 13/02/2020


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