Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Idiots guide to the subway

Hey guys can anyone give me an idiots guide to taking the subway. Since i%26#39;m from Northern Ireland were not very big on public transport here so really need your help. Do i buy a subway map from somewhere and how do i know which train to get on.Any tips or suggestions are welcome no matter how big or small. I%26#39;m really sorry if this sounds really stupid but i%26#39;d just really love to use the subway when i%26#39;m there so i don%26#39;t spend a fortune on taxi%26#39;s. Thanx everyone.

Idiots guide to the subway

Definately get a map - most guide books have them in the back along with street maps.

The most important thing is to remember whether you want to go uptown or downtown. Uptown mean the numbers get higher (so if you%26#39;re on 34th Street and want to go to 42nd you%26#39;d get on the uptown train) and obviously downtown goes down the numbers.

If you get a guide book it normally tells you what subway you need for certain sites.

I%26#39;m sure others will have better advice but this is just something that I have difficulty with (for some reason uptown and downtown really confuse me!)

Idiots guide to the subway

Here%26#39;s a previous post on this topic which will help :)


Other tips worth remembering:

- the direction signs and signage in general is not as informative as in other metro systems; it%26#39;s a lot easier to get lost or find yourself on the wrong platform that on, say, the London Underground or Paris Metro

- unlike other metro systems you cannot always change platforms in the station (so if you get into a station and find out afterwards that trains only go one direction, you%26#39;ve wasted your fare because you have to go out of the station and enter it from across the street - and have to pay again)

- the NY subway takes a lot more planning that most other metro systems, because you cannot transfer to every station in the system from any station you enter (if you don%26#39;t believe me, look at London, Paris, Madrid etc and you will see that no matter where you start your journey, you can travel to any other station in the system without having to change stations - now compare that to the New York subway)

- some trains run at %26#39;peak times%26#39; only - but it%26#39;s only when you get to the station that you find out what these times are

- unlike London / Paris / most other systems, you have to look at the train itself to see what route it%26#39;s on - other metro systems generally have platforms dedicated so one particular route / line, so you never get on the wrong train unless you%26#39;re on the wrong platform

- unlike every other metro system map, the colour of the line on the map does not indicate the route of the trains which operate at the stations on that line

- unlike most other systems, there aren%26#39;t electronic signs in every station to tell you when the next train is due

- unlike any other system, there are not always route maps in the carriages themselves, so you really have to take a subway map with you

- don%26#39;t rely on the drivers to give intelligible notification about the current station or the next station

- unlike most systems, you can%26#39;t always see the name of the current station when you%26#39;re sitting on the train (because more often that not they%26#39;ll be on the wall behind you, or above your line of sight)


sc_UK -- some of your tips are good, but others just aren%26#39;t true.

I don%26#39;t mind subway-bashing if it%26#39;s justified, but it isn%26#39;t always so.

- You can travel from any station to any other station without changing stations, just change trains. Sometimes you%26#39;d have to change more than once, but it%26#39;s the same in London and Paris. Our system is enormous and made up of three separate systems, and obviously every train does not stop at every station.

- Both London and NY systems (and I believe Paris as well) have lines that share tracks, so you%26#39;ve got to make sure you get on the right train.

- Every subway car has two full system maps posted.

- While the train conductors are notorious for giving unintelligible information, New Yorkers are very helpful... all you need to do is ask. In fact, most times all you need to do is look at a map and you%26#39;ll be asked if you need help.

- Unless the train is jam-packed, you can always see the name of the station you pull into, it%26#39;s posted on every column. Again, if the train is so crowded that you can%26#39;t see out the window, just ask, ';what station is this?'; and you%26#39;ll get an answer.


Simbo -- I suggest you try to book a Big Apple Greeter (www.bigapplegreeter.org) who can help you get oriented to how to get around here.

One more thing about the NY subway. You only pay once as you enter and do not have to swipe your card again as you exit. It is not measured by distance but a flat fare. Don%26#39;t be daunted. You%26#39;ll most probably just be using one or two lines to go north and south.

Here%26#39;s a map


The one bad thing for visitors about the NY subway is that the signs are in English. But that should not be a consideration for Simbo.

New York subway is great...and I%26#39;m from Northern Ireland also.

The first time we used it I was quite nervous, but there really was no need to be.. Once you realise what train is going

in what direction you%26#39;ved it all worked out, and all the different routes and colours etc are easy to work with.

Also, I couldn%26#39;t say a single bad word about any of the subway staff either...We were going to ..I think it was Canal st .. the first time we used it, and we may have looked a little lost! The driver or conductor..I%26#39;m not sure who it was.. shouted out of his window where did we want to go, and when we arrived he shouted out to us which station exit to take, have a good day etc...He went out of his way to help us.

Also, at several stations we checked the route we wanted to take with station staff and everyone was ALWAYS very helpful.

Go, use the subway..Its all part of the great New York experience...


Hi Bettina

You%26#39;re right - what I meant to say was that on most other systems (apart from Tokyo I think) you only have to change trains a maximum of once to get to any other station.

But I don%26#39;t know where you got the idea that every carriage has at least 2 subway maps! That%26#39;s just not the case (on some trains yes, but not on many that I was on two weeks ago!)

I think the subway is big and extensive but it%26#39;s not user friendly when you compare it to practically everywhere else.

It%26#39;s about 20 years out of date - do you think they will invest in new signs / information displays etc like other places have?

Does anyone know if there is a website, like mapquest, where you can put in a beginning location and an ending and it will pull up a detailed list of what subway lines and stations that need to be utilized to get to that point? I%26#39;m sure that would be to good to be true, but it sure would help plan in advance.

that is hopstop.com but us locals don%26#39;t always agree with the results.

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