5 Tips for Mastering NYC’s Public Transit System

by Haley Davidson

With over 660 miles of track and 469 stops, getting around in New York City can quickly become stressful. But with a few tips in hand, the NYC public transit system, run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), can get you to your internship or the newest neighborhood you’re out to explore.

1. Download the NYCSubway App

The app has several great features, including a map of all the trains that is accessible offline. My favorite feature of the app, though, is the live updates and database of service changes and delays. Especially on the weekends, when the MTA does major work on most train lines, the app can help you plan in advance for those changes all in one place.

2. Learn the nearby trains you can depend on

On the weekend when different lines are out of service or when you’re ready to explore a new place, you’ll want to know which trains are within walking distance of your apartment. Here’s a quick reference list of which trains are near NYCIntern’s housing locations:

Brooklyn Heights

  1. The 2 / 3 Clark Street stop, 2 minute walk
  2. The R Court Street stop, 6 minute walk
  3. The A/C High Street-Brooklyn Bridge stop, 6 minute walk
  4. The 4 / 5 Borough Hall stop, 12 minute walk

Financial District

  1. 2 / 3 Wall Street stop, 3-7 minute walk (closest to Hanover or Wall)
  2. 4 /5 Wall Street or Bowling Green stop, 3-7 minute walk (closest to West or Wall)
  3. 1 or R Rector Street stop, 3-7 minute walk (closest to Washington)
  4. 4 / 5, 2 / 3, J/Z, A/C, at Fulton Center, 10-15 minute walk

3. Save money by buying an unlimited subway pass

Most interns will have to commute during the week, so buying a monthly or weekly unlimited subway pass is a great idea. A 30-day unlimited pass is $121.00 and a 7-day unlimited pass is $32.00. It sounds pricier than $2.75 a swipe, but if you’re commuting daily during the week, the pass quickly pays for itself. Plus, it gives you the freedom to travel all over NYC on buses and trains during the weekend without worrying about the extra cost.

4. Always allot extra travel time for delays or crowded trains

During rush hours, which are roughly between 8-10am and 5-8pm, you’ll want to plan for a busy train station. Often, when heading for my job or class, I’ve had to wait for a second train because the first one has been so full that I couldn’t board.

Even if you’re not traveling during rush hour, you’ll want to give yourself at least 10 extra minutes if you can. Especially at first, trains and the streets above can be difficult to navigate, so you want to allow time to make mistakes. Beyond that, the subway system sometimes has delays that could happen at any moment, and if you want to impress your new boss, make sure you’re not late because of an unexpected problem!

It might seem inconvenient at first, but hey, when you return home, you might finally be that person that’s always on time.

5. Buses aren’t as bad as they seem

If you’re like me, you may not be so sure about NYC’s buses at first look. However, they are a great resource for getting places far away from the train stop. They are pretty reliable, and you can easily find which bus to take by putting your destination into Google Maps.

Additionally, most bus stops have a QR code that you can scan with your phone to find out when the buses will arrive.