New York Metro: map and Metrocard

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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  • Plan your trip
  • How to read the Metro map
  • Express trains or local trains?
  • Uptown or Downtown: which direction?
  • Useful Tips
  • The MetroCard
  • Types of MetroCard

New York is a big city, and the thought of touring it all using the enormous Metro network may be of concern, especially if you are using it for the first time. In fact, move through the various neighborhoods using the Subway New York is not at all difficult and allows you to save time and money.

Let's see together how the New York subway.

Plan your trip

To know exactly which line to take to reach our destination, we can rely on a useful tool made available to those who use the New York Metro, l’MTA Trip Planner. The MTA Trip Planner is the official web page of the public transport company that allows you to to plan your trip: by entering the departure and arrival destinations, the MTA Trip Planner will tell us which is the best route to follow.

There is also one on the MTA website map of the various lines, which however remains an indispensable tool for knowing how to orientate even when you are in underground stations, where many times mobile phones do not receive any signal.

Maps can be found hanging at every stop and can also be requested free of charge at any Metro station.

How to read the Metro map

If you want to be able to orient yourself in the New York subway, you absolutely must knowing how to read the map: on it, in fact, the colors of the various lines are indicated, which areas they serve, the stops they make, the connections with other public transport services ... But how can you read the Metro map correctly?

First, you need to look for the Legend (In English Key), on which it is indicated what the various colors of the lines correspond to, and the symbols that can be found on the map. Thanks to the Legend you will be able to understand: which are the stops served by local trains and express trains and which are the stops served by several lines.

The Legend will also be useful for you to better understand the symbols placed at the entrance of each stop, which indicate from which lines is served and the direction in which the trains go.

Express trains or local trains?

Find out if a stop is served by express trains, from those locals, or from both is extremely simple: looking at the legend, you will see that the stops served only from local trains are indicated with a black circle or bar, while those served from both local and express trains are indicated with a circle or a
white bar

Why the bars?

When a stop is marked with a circle, white or black, it means that it is served by only one line, while if it is marked with one finger, white or black, it means that it is served from multiple lines of the Metro. This distinction is particularly useful if you have to change trains, because perhaps to reach your destination we have to move on several lines.

Another way to understand if a station is served by more than one line are the letters: if several letters are indicated next to it, then it means that the stop is served by several Metro lines.

Uptown or Downtown: which direction?

To move easily within the Metro, it is also important to know if our destination is in the area Uptown o Downtown New York.

I know if the Metro turns on the manhattan, understanding it is very simple, because the Streets run from east to west, while the Avenues from North to south. Only in the southern part of Manhattan do the streets have real names.

To give a practical example, if you get off at 14th Street and need to reach 59th Street, it goes without saying that you will have to take a northbound train (Uptwon), while if you are in Manhattan and need to go to South Street, then you will have to take a train going south.

Useful Tips

There are two other useful things to keep in mind to make your Metro journey easy: the first is to memorize the stop previous, compared to the one you have to get off at, in order to get close to the exit in time, which becomes particularly difficult during rush hours; the second is that, the Bronx is up, and Brooklyn is down, so i trains to the Bronx they will always go towards Uptown, while those for Brooklyn they will go towards Downtown.

The MetroCard

To travel with the Metro it is mandatory to buy the ticket, which is called Metro card. The ticket for the Single Ride, which can only be purchased at the automatic ticket machines, costs $ 3,00. The children below 110 cm in height they travel for free.

Types of MetroCard

While staying in New York, you will often use the Metro. By choosing one of several types of Metrocard available, you could save a lot on travel expenses.

Pay per Ride MetroCard

It allows to buy credit for the Metro, give a $ 5,50 minimum to a maximum of $ 80. By reloading it, you get an 11% bonus.

Unlimited Ride MetroCard

With the Unlimited Ride MetroCard you pay a fixed amount which allows us to make all the rides we want, both on the Metro and on the bus, without time limits. There are different types of Unlimited Ride MetroCard:

  • 7 – Day Unlimited Pass, costs $ 31,00 ($ 15,50 is the reduced price), and can be used to travel by Metro and buses (excluding Express), without limitations, every day until midnight, and is valid for 7 days from the date of first use (not valid for the PATH service, for the Express service buses and for the AirTrain);
  • 30 – Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, costs $ 116,50 ($ 58,25 is the reduced price), and can be used to travel on the Metro, without limitations, every day until midnight, for 30 days from the date of first use (it is not valid for the service PATH, for the buses of the Express service and for the AirTrain);
  • 7 – Day Express Bus Plus MetroCard, costs $ 57,50, and allows unlimited travel on local and express buses and the Metro, for 7 days from the date of first use.

Where can you buy it?

It's possible buy the MetroCard directly from automatic ticket machines which can be found at all stations (with an additional $ 1 for the first purchase), at traditional ticket offices, or at one of the many authorized dealers located in the city.

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