KRAMER: All right, Coney Island. Okay, you can take the B or the F and switch for the N at Broadway-Lafayette, or you can go over the bridge to DeKalb and catch the Q to Atlantic Avenue, then switch to the IRT 2, 3, 4 or 5, but don’t get on the G. See, that’s very tempting, but you wind up on Smith and 9th Street, then you got to get on the R.
So maybe you watched this scene in Seinfeld or that just people warned you against using the subway in New York. But here you are now. In the city. Looking at an endless bumper to bumper line of cars inching & crawling their way on Fifth Av. Your phone tells you its gonna take 30 mins to get where you want or maybe 10 mins by the subway/metro/train. Or maybe its your first time in NYC & you want to feel like a New Yorker effortlessly cruising through the 24 (for real!!) subway lines.
So here is your cheat sheet (works mainly for Manhattan - if you are able to get to the other Boroughs you already know what you are doing ;) )
- Its the subway system but they are called the trains - L Train, N Train, R Train etc
- Get a Metro Pass Card. If you are staying there for 3 days or more its a no-brainer to get the 7 day pass.
- How to use the card? I had some confusion the first time - everyone I know spent sometime wondering what to do with the card once they got it. So look how others do it.
- Identify your destination is a local stop or an express stop. In the subway map - local stops are marked with black circles, express stops are marked with white circles. Local trains stop at express stations. Express trains do not stop at local stations. Seems logical but remember this. Don't be going to a local station on a express train. You won't get there ;)
- Now which trains are local and which are express? You can figure it out from the maps by looking at the what train stops at the local train but there is no easy way to find out. You just gotta know. I will put down the common express lines in Manhattan. But it can change due to constructions, weekends, special events. Most of the major tourist spots are next major stations - or rather it is the other way round. But for sightseeing express lines would work fine if they are running that day. Ask someone nearby if you don't feel too sure.
- Yay!! You got the train now. Next step find the right platform. Most of the lines are in a loop: Queens - Uptown(Manhattan) - Downtown(Manhattan) - Brooklyn - Queens. Based on which direction you wanna go, you need to go the respective platform. If you are on 57th Street station and want to get to 42nd Street - which platform do you go to? Hope you said Downtown/Brooklyn. If you answered differently, keep in mind the basic layout of the city. Streets numbers go up while going uptown, go down while going downtown!
- Get on the train, get down where you have to. Go where you want to.
Enjoy New York City.
P.S: If possible don't use subway stations are landmarks to describe locations or for a rendezvous point. For many of the bigger stations like Canal St or Times Sq, there can be multiple entrances and multiple stations at different crossroads and can get pretty confusing. Every two blocks has a Starbucks. Much easier location to find :)