Getting around by Subway


More than 3.5 million daily riders consider the subways the fastest, easiest way to get around the city. Trains run 24 hours a day, with waiting time between trains normally just a few minutes, depending on the time of day.

The 714-mile New York City subway system has 468 stations serving 24 routes – more than any other system in the world. Subways traverse Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx; Staten Island is served by the Staten Island Railway, with connections to the Staten Island Ferry from the St. George Ferry Terminal. The Staten Island Railroad trains run 24/7; the fare is the same as for a bus.

Routes are identified by letters, such as A M R and by numbers, such as
24 7. The different lines are different colors. Free subway maps are available at any subway station booth.

Subway entrances in New York are usually found on street corners, marked with a staircase descending to the station. The stop will have a large green ball outside (indicating a booth inside where you can buy MetroCards) or red ball (no token booth inside; you must have a MetroCard available to enter).

Many subway entrances specify Uptown Only or Downtown Only, meaning trains on the platform accessed by that specific entrance will be going in only one direction. A platform with trains running in the opposite direction will most likely be across the street. Generally, subway stops for uptown trains are on the east side of the street, downtown on the west side of the street.

The fare is $2.25 per ride, no matter how far or how many times you transfer (as long as you don’t pass through the turnstile gate; if you do, another fare must be paid). A MetroCard can save you money on multiple rides because 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.

Station booth agents can give you directions and a free subway map. To go through the turnstiles; hold your MetroCard horizontally with the word MetroCard and the black stripe facing you. Slide your card with the M of MetroCard going through first; slide the card smoothly but not too slowly through the slot in the top of the turnstile and walk through.

There will be a text message on the turnstile saying if entry is granted (“GO”) or not. If entry doesn’t happen, follow instructions to slide the card again at that turnstile (you may lose the fare if you switch turnstiles). If the message tells you that your MetroCard has insufficient funds, add more money to the card at any MetroCard vending machine or with any station booth agent.

Staying more than 3 days? Get a 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard for $27. If you’ll be in the city for more than 9 consecutive days, you’ll save with a 14-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard for $51.50. If staying more than 18 consecutive days? Select the 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard for $89

Where can you buy a MetroCard? There are thousands of MetroCard merchants throughout the city including newstands at most arrival terminals, subway station vending machines, most hotels, plus NYC’s Official Visitor Information Center and the Times Square Visitors Center.

To board the right train, follow the signs displaying the subway route you want to take. At the platform edge look above your head and you’ll find signs that tell which trains stop there and the direction the trains are going, such as Uptown (northbound), Downtown (southbound), or Brooklyn-bound. The front and side of every train display the route number or letter. In many instances, more than one train route stops at a platform so you’ll want to be sure to read the route number before you get on.

Knowing when to get off: Conductors make announcements so you’ll know the next stop along the line. To be sure you’re traveling in the right direction, check the subway map. Every subway car has a map posted on the wall by a door; new cars have route maps plus scrolling announcements with time and name of the next stop.

People in wheelchairs may pay their fare by alerting the station booth agent that they are about to enter the system. They can then pay their fare and the station booth agent will open the special entry gate for them.

Free subway maps are available at subway station booths, or by calling 1(718) 330-3322, 9am-5pm, weekdays. Need directions? Ask for a free bus map by borough. Only the bus map contains both bus and subway directions to major places of interest located in that borough.

For specific route and schedule information, call the MTA 1(718) 330-1234,
non-English 1(718) 330-4847.

Get point to point directions for subways & buses —

Please note prices on this page are subject to change by the MTA

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