How to Ride the NYC Subway

You’d be surprised on how many people don’t know how to ride the subway in NYC. I’m not talking tourists either, but some of my fellow New Yorkers (smh).

It is complicated at first, but with a few tries, and after a couple of trips going in the wrong direction, you figure it out eventually.

Here is everything you need to know before entering the pee-wrenched, rat-infested, and dark-lit subway stations (I’m selling you, aren’t I?)

Okay, first: Local vs. Express


A train that stops at every single stop on that line

Trains that are always local: 1,6,7,G,L,M,R, and W.


Trains that don’t stop at every station on that line

These trains are local sometimes but also express too: 2,3,4,5,<6>,<7>,A,B,D,E,F,N, and Q

Photo Credit:

Second: Uptown vs. Downtown

Simple enough right? I mean, you are either going uptown or downtown (or to Queens or Brooklyn), but remember that sometimes you have to be careful when you enter at certain subway stations because some have separate entrances for uptown and downtown. You may realize it too late. You end up wasting money for a ride because you have to exit and go to the other side and pay for another ride, ouch.

Okay Third: Metro Cards

Photo Credit: Scientific American

      Current cost:

If you are living in New York, and you plan to take the subway a lot, I suggest you buy the 30-day MetroCard because it is the most economical. Visiting for a day or two, or even a week? Judge accordingly. Just don’t buy a single ticket unless you really believe you are only going to take it once and only once. If you just buy a MetroCard and put a certain amount on it, if you need more rides, just refill the same card.

There are ticket machines in almost every station/entrance.

And finally: How to know what subway to take and where to go (without looking at a physical map):

The best invention ever (for getting around in NYC), Embark

An app you will learn to know and love.

You can enter the subway station or the exact address that you are at currently or wherever you are leaving from, and put in the subway station or address of where  you need to go to. It will tell you everything you need to know. From what line(s) to take, how long it should take, and walking directions for how to get to the subway station, and when you get off, how to get to your final destination. Pretty nice, right?

I believe it is still free, there might just be some ads. But still worth it in my book.

Does anything else about NYC transit get you confused or do you have something you could add? Let us know in the comment box below!

Question: What city is up next on your bucket list? Comment below!

Written by Carley Farrell


1 Comment

  1. June 6, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    During off-peak hours, when the subway is less crowded, conductors can hold trains that enter the same station at the same time, and passengers can transfer across the platform.

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