Go For a Ride on the
New York City Subway System

Subway sign

Travel Like A Local

It may seem crowded and less luxurious than your SUV, but millions of us get to work every day by using the New York City subway system.

A worthwhile part of experiencing any city is getting around like a local, and New York is no exception. Your visit will not be complete if you skip it and take only taxis instead.

Reasons to ride the subway:

Besides being a big part of the New York experience, the subways are a marvel of logistics and a great way to get around.

The New York City subway system is the most extensive subway network in the country with 468 stations. It is one of the highest ranked subway systems in the world for annual ridership with 1.6 billion riders per year. Join the mass of over 5 million people who ride the subway every weekday!

Be green! When you choose to ride the subway instead of taking a taxi or driving a car, you use less energy, conserve natural resources, and prevent pollution.

You Can't Use the Subway Without a MetroCard

You will need a MetroCard to ride the subways. This is a small card about the size of a credit card that you swipe to enter a subway station. You can buy a MetroCard when you arrive in New York.

Having a Map is Essential

Subway entrance

There is a standard MTA subway map and you will find it very useful to pick one up and keep it with you. Large maps are located on the platform of most subway stations as well as inside the subway cars.

Subway maps are free. Pick one up from an agent at any subway station booth.

You can view a map of the entire subway system on the MTA webpage. You can print the map from this website, but since the map is so detailed, it may be too small to use.

There are so many stations and subway lines…where do I start?

The New York City subway system is confusing at first but after a little practice you will get the hang of it. Figuring out the subway system is a fun challenge for your visit and a great learning opportunity for you kids. If you can manage here, you can travel anywhere!

There are 26 subway lines and each one has a unique letter or number. The map will help you figure out where you are, where you want to go, and the best subway line to take to get there.

Not sure about something? Ask someone around you. At any given time you will probably be surrounded by hundreds of people who do this every day and they will most likely have no problem helping you get to your destination.

Tip: If you do ask someone around you for help, it's best if you have a map in your hand. We may be well-acquainted with the subway system, but that doesn't mean we have the whole thing memorized.

Safety Precautions

Crime is very low on New York City subways. Most incidents are a result of slips, trips, and falls rather than criminal activity. Even so, it pays to always use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

  • Take it slow to avoid tripping or falling on the stairs or platforms.
  • Stand a safe distance away from the subway platform and make sure your kids do the same.
  • Only ride in subway cars with other people. The subways are normally highly populated and this would probably only come up very late at night. If you feel uncomfortable with a person or situation, get off the car or leave the station.
  • Stay alert and aware and keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t be an easy target for pick-pockets and bag snatchers.

For more safety information, visit the MTA’s webpage on riding safely.


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