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    Getting around in New York: subway, bus, taxi and other transport

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    Martí Micolau

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    Understanding the best way to get around New York is not a foregone conclusion. The Big Apple, in its size, can be unsettling especially for those on their first visit. For this, through a general overview of the main public transport, we will see which is the best way to get around in the city while also saving something.


    • Covid-19 directives for public transport
    • Metropolitan
    • Bus
      • pros and cons
      • Prices
      • Where are the stops
      • Frequency
      • Hop-on Hop-off
    • Getting around by car
      • Taxi
      • Uber
      • Rental car
    • Bike share or bike rental?
    • Ferry to Staten Island
    • What is the most convenient way to get around New York?
    • How to get to New York airports
    • Other useful tips

    Covid-19 directives for public transport

    The NYC bus and subway service continues at regular times even in this particular period, but there are guidelines to keep in mind if you need to take the subway and buses.

    Inside stations, trains and buses, the use of a mask is mandatory, while it is not mandatory to wear it (although it is recommended) if the stations are outdoors.

    If for some reason you do not have one available, you can ask for one free of charge from the staff on duty.

    Those who use public transport without a mask will face a fine of $ 50.


    La metro in New York it is extremely widespread and is undoubtedly the best way to get around the city. Not only because it allows you to reach practically all the attractions of the city, but also because you can avoid the biggest problem of the city linked to travel: the chaos of traffic.

    Being open 24 hours it is always available (obviously with different waiting times), and will allow you to move from one part of Manhattan to another at any time of the day. Another positive factor is that there are no fare zones, unlike the Washington metro, for example, so even traveling the route from start to finish you will always spend the same amount.

    The lines are numerous and a quick glance at the map could be intimidating to a tourist who decides to visit the Big Apple for the first time. But don't be afraid because using the metro is much more simple of what may appear. Because of its importance in moving around the city, we have dedicated an in-depth study exclusively dedicated to understanding how the New York subway works and how to use it.


    Usually, when I visit a city in the United States, I almost exclusively use the subway to get around because of its simplicity. This is because I never really want to study how all the bus lines work, the frequency and the location of the stops. In the case of New York however I made an exception because surface urban transport is very simple thanks above all to the conformation of the city.

    As you may know, the streets of Manhattan are named in two ways depending on the direction in which they are built. The Avenue run vertically from north to south, the Streets instead horizontally from east to west. Speaking of bus lines practically tute the Avenue they have a dedicated one that runs through them in their entirety, the same cannot be said for Streets (given above all their number) but on average every 10 you will find a line. You can see what has been said at a glance by looking at a map of the service.

    pros and cons

    Using a bus in New York certainly has pros and cons. Let's see what the main ones can be.

    • Close stops: this is both an advantage and a disadvantage of the bus service. Having many stops available can in fact be useful in making you walk as little as possible to reach your destination, but at the same time they have the disadvantage of significantly extending the travel time of a route given the repeated stops that a bus is forced to make long. the journey.
    • Traffic: New York traffic can be exhausting even for those used to moving around in our big cities. At peak times, cars and buses move at a walking pace at a good pace. This is certainly the main disadvantage of using buses, as even a short journey can be very long and frustrating.
    • panorama: those who do not want to spend all the time traveling underground (especially if someone has some particular phobia) and also want to enjoy the view on the skyscrapers of the city may prefer to opt for the use of a bus.


    The cost to use a bus it is the same as the subway. At the time of writing, a ride is priced at $ 2,75 if it is deducted from your credit Metrocard. Different speech if you want to use a Express Bus which costs $ 6,50. If you pay the driver in cash, the cost of the ride will be $ 3 (make sure you have precise money as you will not receive change).

    For a general overview of how to use the card, and the options available, I invite you to read the paragraph dedicated to the MetroCard in the article on the New York subway.

    If you pay for a single ride, you can get off the bus and get on either the subway or one other bus only within two hours. If, on the other hand, you have purchased one Unlimited Ride MetroCard you can make all the connections between bus and subway you want without any time limit. The only exception concerns the Express Buses which, as we have seen, have a fare and therefore a dedicated MetroCard.

    If you paid in cash it is different. In fact, you can make a connection between a bus whose lines cross at least once. However, you must take care to communicate your intention at the time of purchase to the driver, who will give you a special card that you will also have to validate on the next bus.

    Where are the stops

    Stops are very frequent (and as we have seen this can be an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time). More or less every two to three blocks you will find one located at the intersection of Streets and Avenue. It will therefore be very easy to find the stop on your line.


    During the weekdays the frequency of most bus lines is excellent, in fact on average there is at least one race 10 every minute. During the weekends the frequency thins out, especially for the secondary lines, which can reach one run every 20-30 minutes. The most important lines, however, remain with a frequency of one run every 10/15 minutes. You can see in detail what has been said by consulting this pdf with the official timetables.

    Hop-on Hop-off

    This very popular type of service brings with it the main negative sides of the bus service (moving in traffic for example), but at the same time offers the possibility of admire the city and to benefit from the commentary of a guide during the journey. It may therefore be preferable to use this service for a tourist who wants to enjoy the city calmly from a singular point of view. They are not recommended (as you can imagine) if your goal is to move quickly from one point to another in New York.

    If you are interested in this type of service please note that this is an activity included in most of the New York Passes. If you are undecided about which one is right for you, you can consult our ComparaPass which with just one click will allow you to find the one that best suits your needs. If you want to take a look at the Hop-on Hop-off services individually, you can click on the link below.

    Info on the Hop-on Hop-off bus in New York

    Getting around by car

    In addition to the public transport we have talked about so far, one of the options for getting around New York is to use the car. Let's see what options you will have available if you are fond of four wheels.


    Moving in Taxi a New York it can be an option to consider especially if you are a group of several people. In this case the cost of the ride would become practically negligible. Surely the fares are cheaper than the Italian ones and, if you do not want to wait for public transport, or you want to move quickly from one part of the city to another in the evening when both bus and subway runs are less frequent, it can be an option to consider.

    If you want to get a detailed idea of ​​the cost of a ride, you can rely on this handy site where by entering the departure and destination you can get an estimate of the cost of the ride.

    Taxis in New York are recognizable by their characteristic yellow color that we have come to know in countless films. To grab one "on the fly" just wave your hand to a car that has the word taxi illuminated which means that it is available.


    Uber is an alternative service to the taxi that is very popular in America. Again to calculate the fare for a ride through the RideGuru site which compares various private car transport services.

    Rental car

    Renting a car in New York might seem like a move at least risky, both for the higher prices, and for the omnipresent traffic at all hours of the Big Apple. However, there may be cases in which this choice may be convenient, for example the itinerary you have chosen or the possibility of making excursions from New York. For this reason, I invite you to read our dedicated in-depth analysis.

    Bike share or bike rental?

    The system bike share in New York it is one of the largest in the world. It offers its inhabitants and tourists more than 12.000 bicycles and over 750 collection and collection points scattered around the city. It is certainly a very convenient way to get around the city (especially when the climate of New York allows it) but there are some limitations to keep in mind.

    Personally I would recommend using the bike share service only if you intend to move from point A to point B in the city in the shortest possible time. In other words, you want a means of transportation alternative but you don't need a bike to ride all or most of your day with.

    In fact, using the bike sharing service has some fixed costs to which must be added those of use of the bicycle. As regards fixed costs, a tourist basically has the possibility to choose between two options:

    • Day Pass: 12$
    • 3 Day Pass: 24$

    Buying a pass will entitle you to a ride of 30 minutes, after which you will be charged $ 4 every 15 minutes. There is also the option to purchase a single ride at a cost of $ 3 for 30 minutes of use. You can do all the rides you want so under 30 minutes to not pay further, but this will prove extremely inconvenient let's go and see why.

    All bicycles must be picked up and stored only in designated parking lots. You will therefore not be able to leave your bike wherever you want. This can involve the risk of finding all the stalls occupied once you reach your destination, or all empty upon departure. You can certainly look for one nearby, but this will surely waste your time. Also be careful not to leave your bicycle unattended, in case of theft you will have to pay a penalty of over $ 1.200.

    So, if your idea is to use the bicycle as the main means of transport, the advice is to opt for a Bike rent classic. In this regard, you can take a look at some specific services by clicking on the link below.

    Info on bike rental in New York

    Ferry to Staten Island

    It is certainly not a useful way to move from one part of the city to another, but it will allow you to reach Staten Island and, at the same time, to take a sort of cruise of New York, since along the way you can observe the skyline of New York and the Statue of Liberty, totally free. The service is very convenient because it is active like the subway 24 hours a day with a frequency that varies between 24 and 15 minutes.

    From Manhattan, the ferry departs from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, also known as the South Ferry, and reaches the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island in approximately 25 minutes. Attention: if you want to take a round trip once you arrive you will still have to get off the ferry and go back up.

    What is the most convenient way to get around New York?

    As mentioned the most comfortable way to get around NYC in my experience is definitely the subway. But is it also the most convenient way? On balance I would say yes also in this case. If your itinerary plans to stay in New York for several days, in fact, thanks to the MetroCard options you can in fact make more trips, amortizing the final price.

    The fact that the price of a ride is the same regardless of the length of the route will also prove to be a very positive fact, especially if you have chosen to sleep in New York in a slightly more decentralized neighborhood.

    How to get to New York airports

    As you may know, New York has not just one airport but three. While the JFK is mostly used for international stopovers, the Newark and La Guardia may be of particular concern to you if you want to take a domestic flight. While the connections from Manhattan with the JFK are multiple and comfortable at the same time, the same cannot be said for the other two airports which require more planning to reach them.

    To better understand how to organize yourself with travel to and from New York airports I invite you to read our dedicated in-depth study.

    Other useful tips

    After having done this overview of the main public transport in New York, there are other tips that could be useful for organizing your stay in the Big Apple:

    • things to do in New York to plan an itinerary
    • 1 day, 4 days, 5 days and 6 days itineraries.
    • information on the best neighborhoods to sleep in New York
    • how to save with the flight + hotel solution in Manhattan
    • our in-depth section dedicated to the city: New York Travel Tips
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