Getting Around

The New York City subway extends through the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. It runs 24/7 and is often the most efficient way to travel. The ‘1 train’ (red line) runs along the West Side of Manhattan and is the only train that stops at 116th & Broadway, which is the closest subway stop to Columbia’s campus and Uris Hall. In general, the subway is a great way to travel downtown from the Upper West Side, however, there is no subway which connects the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side. Also, the subway operates on a different schedule at different times of the day — something to be mindful of if you decide to use the subway late at night. (Also – for those of you living in NJ, click here to get 25% off the monthly pass price)

Some useful links for learning the subway system are:

  • HopStop – This site gives you directions on how to get from one address to another in Manhattan. You can think of it as Google directions except for subway routes instead of highways and roads. The site has some nice features that let you use your cellphone to navigate the subway system.
  • MTA Website – Contains information relevant to both subways and buses. Click here to learn more about fares and determine what type of MetroCard is best for you.
  • Google Maps  also provides a similar tool like Hopstop for you to plan your transportation in the city
  • There are also several helpful iPhone apps which provide static images of the NY subway system (check out KICK Lite, NYCWay, NextTrainLite, etc.)

The New York City bus system is quite extensive and uses the same card-based system as the subways (most don’t accept cash!). The buses take longer than the subway, but they stop more frequently and can get to places where the subway doesn’t exist. The buses are also very useful for getting across Manhattan, as they cut through the park and there is no subway which connects the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side. You can use your MetroCard on both the subways and the buses, and you get a free transfer from crosstown buses to uptown / downtown subways or vice-versa.

In addition to the NYC MTA buses, there are several options for travel to cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, DC and more. Most buses leave from Port Authority, which can be reached via the 42nd street / Times Square stop on the subway. There are also buses which leave from Chinatown; these buses are cheap but can be considered no-frill providers of transportation.

Some useful links for learning about the NYC bus system are:

  • MTA Website – Contains information relevant to both subways and buses. Click here to learn more about fares and determine what type of MetroCard is best for you.
  • Greyhound Greyhound’s website often offers special fares which make it an attractive alternative to the Chinatown buses. Greyhound buses tend to cost more than the Chinatown buses, but also tend to be less crowded and can often prove more reliable.
  • NJ Transit If you are looking to get to NJ for a trip to IKEA or Jersey Gardens Mall, or even to visit home, NJ Transit offers regular bus services.


New York taxis are incredibly convenient to get around NYC. You can always spot them with their yellow color and medallion number on the top of the roof. However, you cannot book standard NYC taxis in advance, you just need to hail one down from the street.

If the light on top of the taxi is lit up and says “on-duty”, it is available. You are charged by the time and distance on a meter. It is standard to tip the driver 10-15% of the fare. (You can download an iPhone app such as FairCab to make sure that you’re getting charged the correct amount.

Driving and Driving Licences

You must have a New York State driver license or a valid driver license from another US state, Canada or most other countries in the world in order to drive in New York or the USA.

If you are from out of town or abroad you may be surprised by the ‘unique’ driving style in New York! Most people (both out-of-towners and locals) decide that driving in New York is quite tricky and to be avoided at all costs. If you must drive, take your time, be careful, concentrate and don’t be flustered if you are honked at!

Some people do own a car in NYC, especially those travelling from further afield, but most people would say that anyone living in Manhattan and going to CBS does not need to keep a car. The subways are pretty good (save for occasional construction delays) and it is rare to find anyone that gets around NYC with a car on a regular basis (unless it’s a taxi or chauffeured).

Additionally, parking a car in a garage will run anywhere from $300-500 per month, and if you park your car on the street, you will have to move it every day or two for street cleaning. This means waking up at 5 or 6AM to spend 1-2 hours looking for a spot so you don’t get a $100+ fine). It’s a real pain!


You may also be interested in biking around the city – check out the suggested vendors below:

Vendor Name Contact Information Cross-Street Discounts Website
UWS, Morningside, and Harlem
West Side Bicycles 231 W 96th St, New York, NY (212) 663-7531 96th and Broadway
Innovation Bike Shop 105 W 106th St, New York, NY  (212) 678-7130 106th and Columbus 5%
Mod Squad 2119 Frederick Douglass Blvd., New York, NY (212) 865-5050 115th and Frederick Douglass 10%
Champion Bicycles 896 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY  (212) 662-2690 104th and Amsterdam 7%
Eddie’s Bicycle Shop 490 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY (212) 580-2011 84th and Amsterdam 10%
Washington Heights and New Jersey
Victor’s Bike Repair 4125 Broadway,New York, NY  (212) 740-5137 Between 174th and 175th and Broadway 10%
Strictly Bicycles 2347 Hudson Terrace,Fort Lee, NJ (201) 944-7074 Hudson Terrace and Myrtle Avenue (Across the GW bridge) 10%

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