NYC Transportation: Getting Around
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MTA—Subways and Buses
If you can't walk to your destination, mass transit is the next-best way to get around. The City's rail and bus system is run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and known as MTA New York City Transit. It's inexpensive, environmentally friendly and a great way to see sights throughout the five boroughs—and it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Purchasing a MetroCard is your first step to getting around on subways and buses; you must put a minimum value of $5 on the card when initially buying it. You can do so at subway stations, from either automated machines (which accept cash, ATM bank cards and regular credit cards) or booth attendants (cash only). When you use a pay-per-ride MetroCard, a single subway or bus ride costs $2.50. An Express Bus ride costs $6. Riders can buy a pay-per-ride card, an unlimited MetroCard or a SingleRide card—the last of these costs $2.75, is sold at vending machines only, doesn't allow transfers and must be used within two hours of purchase. An unlimited MetroCard allows users to ride as often as they like within a fixed time period: options include unlimited cards that last for seven days ($30) or 30 days ($112). There's also a $1 surcharge on the purchase of a new MetroCard. To avoid the charge, customers can refill an existing card. The MTA offers discounts for seniors (over age 65) and disabled riders, as well as a "bonus" credit of 5% for purchases of $5 or more on pay-per-ride cards. Also, up to three children with a maximum height of 44 inches each can get on subways and buses for free when they are traveling with a fare-paying adult. For the most up-to-date information on MetroCard prices, visit mta.info.
The easiest and quickest way to travel around NYC is by public subway train. Riding the subway is also a fantastic way to feel like a local during your stay in New York.
• Subway trains operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• For $2.50 (the cost of a single ride when using a pay-per-ride MetroCard), you can use the system citywide and transfer to other subway lines as many times as you need, as long as you don't exit the system through a turnstile.
• You can transfer from bus to subway or vice versa within two hours of using your MetroCard. (The free transfer does not apply if you leave a subway station through a turnstile and want to get on another subway line.)
• Subway stations on the same line are generally about 8 to 10 blocks apart.
• The subway does not travel to Staten Island. To get there, board the free Staten Island Ferry or take a bus.
You can get a free subway map from booth attendants or at any Official NYC Information Center, or download one from our Maps & Guides section. You can also visit the MTA's Trip Planner for a customized route (but it's still a good idea to carry a subway map when you're out and about). The Trip Planner offers routes for MTA bus lines as well. Subway lines sometimes change routes or temporarily stop running—especially on weekends and late nights during weekdays—so be sure to check for up-to-date MTA service information at mta.info or by calling 718-330-1234.
Public buses are a scenic way to see the City and reach destinations not convenient to a subway stop. It's also worth noting that mass transit is central to New York City's efforts to become more environmentally friendly, and a growing number of NYC's buses are hybrid-electric models.
• All City buses accept the MetroCard and exact coin change (no pennies or paper money).
• Check the route sign on the front of the bus before boarding to ensure it's the bus you want, and make sure you know if it's making all stops or only "limited" stops (the limited buses don't make all stops along the route).
• Enter and pay at the front of the bus.
• A single fare will take you any distance until the end of the route.
• Many buses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but be sure to check whether your route offers overnight service. A schedule and route map posted at the bus stop indicate when the bus should arrive and where it will go.
• Buses run about every 5 to 15 minutes, or at longer intervals, depending on the time of day.
• If you have a smartphone, you can scan the QR code at the bus stop to receive information about when the next bus is expected to arrive.
• Buses generally stop every other block on avenue routes and every block on cross-street routes. Late at night, from 11pm to 5am, bus drivers will stop wherever you ask them to—as long as they feel it's safe.
• MTA service information is available at mta.info or by calling 718-330-1234.
The MTA website tripplanner.mta.info is the most reliable source for up-to-date information about routes and fares.
The Roosevelt Island Tram
With the swipe of a MetroCard, the Roosevelt Island Tram gives you an aerial view of Midtown East along its path from 59th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. The tram got its start in the early 1900s, taking passengers halfway across the Queensboro Bridge, where an elevator would then transport them down to the island. Today, it provides direct service for more than 2 million riders seven days a week (Sunday–Thursday, 6am–2am; Friday–Saturday, 6am–3:30am), with transfers available to MTA subways and buses. For more information, visit rioc.com.
The City's fleet of yellow taxicabs is regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Grabbing a cab can be ideal when tired feet, heavy luggage or shopping bags weigh you down.
• Taxis are available 24 hours a day.
• Hail taxis whose numbers are illuminated on top—they're on duty.
• Board and exit the cab curbside.
• Hotel doormen can hail a cab for you; a $1 tip is customary for this service.
• Minimum metered fare is $2.50, which increases 50 cents every fifth of a mile or every minute, depending on how fast you're traveling; there is also a New York State tax surcharge of 50 cents per ride.
• An additional $1 surcharge is added to the meter Monday–Friday, 4–8pm, and a 50-cent surcharge is added at night, 8pm–6am.
• All taxis accept cash and most accept credit cards.
• Tip 15–20% at the end of a trip; tolls are extra and added to the metered fare.
• Dial 311 in NYC to inquire about lost items or other concerns; visit the Taxi and Limousine Commission website for more info and the organization's fare information page for additional fare details as well as specifics regarding different destinations.
If you're planning to drive around the City, use Google Maps to help you navigate New York City roads. Also, make sure you know where to park. You may want to use a site like bestparking.com to compare parking rates and locations from a number of companies. Be aware, though, that the site's listings are not complete. If you need to rent a car, it may be worth considering Hertz 24/7, a self-service “car share” program that allows members to book vehicles for as little as an hour and as long as nine days, 24 hours a day. Zipcar and Enterprise also offer car-share programs with similar benefits and ease of booking.
Walking and public transit are excellent ways to get around New York, but you can also travel the City by bike, pedicab, ferry or even helicopter if you so desire. Take a different route, and you just might see the City from a whole new angle.
NYC by Bike
Biking the City is good for the environment and your body, and can often be faster and cheaper than fuel-powered transportation. Cycling hotspots like Central, Riverside and Prospect parks are great options for hitting the City on two wheels, as are bike paths along the Hudson and East Rivers and on many bridges—but all of NYC is bikeable. Check out Ride the City to find the safest route from point A to point B and Transportation Alternatives for NYC biking resources. In addition, the NYC Department of Transportation publishes a downloadable bike map and a guide to biking in the City.
Bike and Roll New York lets riders purchase a flexible day pass with multiple locations for picking up and dropping off their bike. The company also offers sightseeing tours that traverse Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan's bike path along the Hudson River and more.
Citi Bike is New York City's bike-sharing system, and it has gained a quick adoption since its inception in May 2013. There are thousands of bikes at hundreds of stations, available 24/7 every day of the year. Unlock a bike at any station, ride wherever you want and check in the bike at any other station. Daily, weekly and annual passes are available.
If you want someone else to do the pedaling for you, hop in a pedicab (sometimes called a "bike taxi" or "bicycle rickshaw"). You won't have to look too hard in the busier parts of Manhattan—the drivers aren't shy about offering their services.
NYC by Ferry
As a waterfront city, New York is home to an extensive ferry system that can get you uptown, downtown and across the rivers to Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey.
The Staten Island Ferry is a staple of many morning commutes—and a must-see on any sightseeing itinerary. In use since 1905, the route between Staten Island and Manhattan's Whitehall Ferry Terminal is a glorious 5-mile, 25-minute mini-cruise with great views of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and Lower Manhattan—and it's free.
New York Water Taxi is another popular aquatic shuttle. Hop-on and hop-off stops include Pier 84 (at West 44th Street), Christopher Street, the World Financial Center and Pier 1 in DUMBO. Check nywatertaxi.com for information on schedules and package deals.
NY Waterway operates commuter ferries between points in Manhattan and New Jersey, and harbor and sightseeing cruises. The East River Ferry also provides a refreshing alternative to more traditional public transportation in the City (and breathtaking skyline views), with regular service to seven locations across three boroughs. A 74-foot ferry departs every 20 to 30 minutes from approximately 7am to 8:30pm on weekdays and every 45 minutes from approximately 9:30am to 9pm on weekends. Check the official schedule to confirm, as departure times vary in different seasons.
NYC by Helicopter
Seeing New York by air is an unforgettable experience, and the City offers helicopter tours for adventuresome visitors and curious locals alike. Here are some choices:
Liberty Helicopters (800-542-9933) runs several tours of the City; Helicopter Flight Services, Inc. (212-355-0801), will personalize sightseeing tours and charters; and New York Helicopter Charter, Inc. (212-361-6060), allows you to choose from three options: the Liberty Tour, the Central Park Tour and the Grand Tour, which combines the first two tours and also flies over many other essential NYC attractions.
NYC Cruise Information
New York is one of America's top cruise ports. Passengers from New York City can cruise to the Caribbean year-round and may also cruise to the Northeast, Canada, Bermuda, England and many other destinations around the world.
Recent infrastructure improvements ensure smooth sailing for the cruise passengers who pass through New York City. In Manhattan, the renovated Manhattan Cruise Terminal welcomes some of the world's most prestigious ships, while the state-of-the-art Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook is the port for Cunard and Princess Cruise ships, including the luxurious Queen Mary 2 and the Royal Princess. Below is a listing of information for each terminal.
New York Cruise Terminal
Piers 88, 90 and 92
711 Twelfth Ave. (at W. 55th St.)
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
Pier 12 at Clinton Wharf
72 Bowne St. (bet. Van Brunt and Imlay Sts.)
Traveling with Pets
If you're bringing a dog or cat along on your NYC adventure, you'll have no trouble getting around—but it's important to know the rules.
Only small-size pets in carriers are allowed on MTA buses, subways and trains, as well as in taxis. Properly harnessed service animals are also permitted on mass transit. Taxi drivers may, at their discretion, pick up dogs without carry cases. The City is also home to several pet-taxi companies that can help transport pets that are not allowed on ordinary public transit.
Pet Chauffeur: 212-696-9744
K9 Cars: 718-683-2152