After living here for four years, I’ve realized that getting from Point A to Point B takes a little bit more finesse than when I lived in the suburbs. Gone are the days where my friends and I could simply jump into my car and make our late night run to the Taco Bell drive-thru. Though it takes a little bit of an adjustment moving to a new city that relies heavily on public transportation, trust me, you’ll get the hang of it in no time! According to U.S. News, New York City is ranked number two in the country’s best transit systems.
Obviously, the subway is the most heavily used mode of transportation in New York, and for good reason. It’s convenient, inexpensive, and pretty reliable. Did you know the MTA’s subway system is the largest in the world in terms of number of stations? That means you’ll be able to get just about anywhere in the city with just one swipe of your MetroCard. If you’re living in campus housing, your best bet is to purchase a Pay-Per-Ride card since all of the dorms are within walking distance of school. You’ll be able to add money as needed, and they even give you a 5% bonus if you spend more than $5. Apps like HopStop and NextStop are also really helpful for navigation.
It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Bus routes are a bit more difficult to follow, especially since stops aren’t announced. I usually have Google Maps opened up on my phone if I decide to bus it somewhere, just to make sure. Buses also usually take more time than the subway since they stop every few blocks. Despite the extra time and the confusing system, sometimes it can be really convenient! There’s a bus route that crosses nearly every street in New York, covering areas where the subway system just doesn’t quite reach. It’s also the same price as the train, and you use the same MetroCard to swipe. Want to take the subway part of the way and then switch over to the bus? You’re allowed one free transfer within two hours of your initial entry into the system!
If you’re crunched for time, carrying a lot of stuff, it’s late at night, or you’re just feeling a little lazy, taking a taxi cab might be your best bet. It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s definitely the easiest. Just hail an available taxi (numbers and letters above the cab will be lit if it’s free), and give the driver the cross streets for your destination, and you’re good to go. Keep in mind that traffic, especially during rush hour, can be horrendous in New York, so there’s times when it might even take you longer to get to where you want to be than if you just took the train. Can’t find a cab on the street? Apps like Uber will help you request a nearby cab to pick you up from wherever you are.
Fresh on the streets this year is the Citi Bike. Having just opened in May, the popularity of the Citi Bike has taken off in just a few months. According to Business Insider, ridership is up to over 40,000 trips a day!! Citi Bike is the country’s largest bicycle-sharing program with 330 stations and 6,000 bikes, and there’s even plans to expand into more neighborhoods. You can pay by the day, week, or year, and more info can be found here. It’s a great new mode of transportation that I wish was open when I still lived in Manhattan…because there’s even a station conveniently located right outside of Parsons at 2 W 13th St!!!!
Zipcar and other similar car share programs are becoming increasingly popular, especially in cities like New York where car ownership is relatively low. The only downside is that you have to be at least 21 years old to have a Zipcar membership. Let me tell you though, becoming a member was one of the best birthday presents I gave to myself! Zipcar charges by the hour, not by mile, and insurance and gas is included! When I moved to a new apartment in June, Zipcar cut down my travel time to the IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn from two hours (taking the subway to the Financial District and then taking the ferry) to a quick 20 minute drive. It’s great for quick errands, and you’re only required to pay a one-year membership fee and the rest is pay-as-you-go. The New School also offers alumni benefits that allows you to join at a discounted rate!
New York is amazing, but I think it’s so refreshing to take a weekend trip to someplace outside the concrete jungle. Now that you know how to get around the city…next time I’ll talk about some ways about how you can get out!! Safe travels my friends!