Five Tips for Riding the New York City Subway, Flickr: http2007

 Ride the Rails in the Big Apple


There’s no better way to get around New York City: the subway is cheap, fast and vast. It will get you close to anywhere you want to go. Of course, the subway can be intimidating, especially if you don’t ride one at home. It’s underground, making it hard for you to orient yourself. And, it can be complex. Add to that some negative stereotypes that don’t really apply any longer, and it might seem more prudent to catch a cab, even though it tends to be a lot more expensive.

Don’t waste your money! Take the subway; just educate yourself a little before you walk through the first turnstile. Here’s what you need to know:

Use the maps

There are maps at every subway stop, and they are helpful. Take a look at where you are and where you want to go. Then, plot your course. If you don’t want to wait until you’re on the platform to do this, pick up a small subway map above ground – or print one from the web. Or, use Hopstop to get subway directions.

Focus only on what matters

Plan your route, and don’t bother looking at the many subway lines and stops that aren’t part of it. If you zero in on the stops that are important to you, you won’t feel as overwhelmed. The whole thing may appear unmanageable, but seven or eight stops and one transfer are easier to handle.

Pay attention

The subway does go quickly, and you’ll get to your transfer or stop before you know it! Be aware of where you are and how many stops you have left on your trip. But, don’t obsess: that will only heighten your anxiety. Instead, adopt the same attitude you would when driving somewhere new. Watch the signs, and keep an eye out as you get closer to your transfer or destination.

Hold on

I’ve seen plenty of people fall over when the subway takes a turn. Grab a bar or strap, and this won’t happen. Merely wrapping your fingers around something will help you keep your balance – and from falling onto somebody’s lap.

Be courteous

This isn’t limited to offering your seat to children, the elderly or people who have trouble moving around – although it sure starts there. When you are riding the subway, don’t block the door at stops: other people are trying to get on and off. And when you do step off the train, don’t linger in front of the door. If you need to get your wits about you, stroll over to the wall, and get out of the way. Let others walk by easily if you aren’t in a rush – they might be in a hurry.

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photo: http2007

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