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Top 10 NYC Insider Transportation Tips

July 19, 2016 - by Chelsey Grasso
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New York is a city that’s made for exploring, and despite the endless subway, bus, taxi, and walking options, it's actually quite easy to navigate. That doesn't mean a few tips on transportation won't help visitors to NYC get around. Take a look through our ten top tips before you hit the streets. New York doesn’t have to be intimidating, and once you get the hang of things, you may never want to leave these bustling streets.

1. NYC Transportation Tips: Use Google Maps

google maps nyc

Not sure how to use the subway? Download Google Maps onto your cellphone. This app will tell you exactly what train to get on, how many stops to take, and where to transfer if necessary. If you're planning ahead on a desktop, the maps are just as useful, with trip directions, mass transit options, and pretty accurate trip times. Just remember, most underground stations don’t have Wi-Fi, so you'll have to look up your route before you get on!

2. NYC Transportation Tips: Take the Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

flickr/Mike Steele

The Staten Island Ferry is 100% free, and it offers amazing views of New York Harbor. Running 24 hours a day between Manhattan and Staten Island, there’s really no excuse not to give it a try. Even if you don't have any reason to go to Staten Island, you can just pop the next ferry back. For the best skyline and Statue of Liberty views, sit on the right side (east) going out and the left side (west) to return.

3. NYC Transportation Tips: Taxis for Groups

Unless everyone in your group has a weekly Metro Card, taking a cab can be a great option for short distances. With oneway subway rides costing $2.75, it may end up being cheaper (and faster!) to split cab fare instead of taking the train a few stops.

4. NYC Transportation Tips: Use the Whole Platform

NYC Subways

flickr/m01229

If you're on a crowded platform, take note of where people are clustered. There tend to be bigger groups around the stairways. Move up or down the station until you find a less-jammed area. Another tip: M trains, C trains, and G trains are shorter, so don't wait on the front or back ends of the station if those are lines you're planning to use.

5. NYC Transportation Tips: Know Your Cross-Streets

Most cab drivers know the city pretty well, but even so, it’s always good to know your destination’s cross-streets in case a specific address or business isn’t ringing a bell. It’s also not a bad idea to have your own GPS system as backup. (Many drivers use their own GPS, but not all do, so come prepared.)

6. NYC Transportation Tips: Take the Express

Almost every subway line in NYC has multiple trains running on it—a local and an express. If you’re looking to get off at a stop that isn’t local, it’s sometimes smarter to wait for an express train instead of hopping on the first local you see. 

7. NYC Transportation Tips: Know Your Taxis, Yellow vs. Green

If you’re on a Manhattan street waving your hands frantically at dozens of green cabs and feel like they’re completely ignoring you, you’re totally right in that assumption. Green cabs are only allowed to pick up customers in the outer boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island). Simply put: if you’re in Manhattan, make sure you’re hailing yellow cabs. Once you leave Manhattan, both yellow and green are fair game, no matter what your destination.

8. NYC Transportation Tips: Give a Car Service a Shot

Carmel Car Service

A sea of yellow cabs is an iconic image for the streets of New York City, but sometimes it’s impossibly hard to catch one. Rainy days, rush hours, and major events all make taxis scarce. Car services such as Carmel or Bridges Limousine will respond quickly, and usually don't charge much more than a cab. Uber is another alternative. If you're looking for affordable airport transportation, choose Go Airlink, which offers van shuttle service to JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.

9. NYC Transportation Tips: Download the NYC Subway App

All of the subway cars have maps, and some of the newer ones even have digital screens that tell you which stop is next. However, if it’s during rush hour and you get stuck on an older train, it may be tricky to see the map or what stops you’re passing. The NYC Subway application will download a map right onto your phonejust make sure you get it before you go underground.

10. NYC Transportation Tips: Use Your Feet!

New York City is a city made for walking. Its grid design makes it easy to get anywhere quickly and without a map. Diverse neighborhoods stand shoulder to shoulder, especially downtown, where in just a few minutes you can pass from SoHo to NoHo to Chinatown to the Financial District to Tribeca to the Lower East Side. You see so much more when you walk, so if your feet are up for it, skip the public transportation and take a stroll.

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