Getting Around NYC / The Subway System

Because of traffic and expensive parking, the vast majority of students choose not to have a car in NYC. Instead, the most popular choice is the subway system. For those of you who have never been to NYC (and even for those who have), here are some useful tips about using the city’s transportation system. Stand clear of the closing doors…

Familiarize yourself with the terms first. Local trains stop at every station in the line and express trains stop in just a few for a quicker ride (on the red line which goes to Columbia, 1 train is local and 2,3 are express). Downtown trains will take you south, and uptown trains will take you north. Downtown trains heading to Brooklyn are also called Brooklyn-bound trains, and uptown trains
heading to Bronx are also called Bronx-bound trains. A few subway lines will take you crosstown – two at 42nd St. (S and 7) and one at 14th St. (L).

Subway maps are free at every station. You can also buy a credit card-size map in the Columbia Bookstore to keep in your wallet.
There are two great websites you should know as well:
1. Enter start and destination addresses and get the most accurate instructions on how to get there by subway or bus.
2. Google Maps combined with subway map (very handy).

It happens to everyone: You get out of the subway station and find yourself disoriented in the middle of a street without knowing where
is east, west, south or north. Although there are signs on the station’s exits (e.g. “NE Corner”) they are not always helpful.
Instead of wandering around, and as long as you stay in midtown, just memorize the traffic direction of each avenue.

Broadway (down from 59th St.): North to South
8th Ave: South to North
7th Ave: North to South
6th Ave: South to North
5th Ave: North to South
Lexington Ave.: North to South

For example: Say that your destination is Park Ave. and you get off the subway at 5th Ave. If you walk against the traffic, Park
will be on your right.

To get from the West Side to the East Side it is usually more convenient to take the crosstown buses, which are located next to major subway stops (110, 96, 86, 79, 72 Streets etc.) Note that most buses in NYC stop in every other block and are very slow.

Riding the subway is safe, however some people prefer not to use it while traveling alone late at night.

Because of construction work train, traffic gets really awkward during weekends — express trains will run local, other simply change their route or won’t stop in some stations. You can check for service alerts at

Once you don’t notice the dirt, heat, congestion, panhandlers and people who had a bad day, you’re a true New Yorker.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s