Friday, April 8, 2016

Getting Around in NYC

Planning a trip to the city? Here are five things you need to know to make your journey easier.

1. Familiarize yourself with the subway system. You cannot just show up in New York City without first doing some research to understand the basics. Start studying a subway map and also get the app for your phone before going. It is confusing at first. 
Every subway train that runs on a line doesn't necessarily stop at every station on that line, so use Google map's "Get Directions" feature and choose the public transportation mode. The subway is best for going uptown to downtown, but not so easy to go across town. Make sure you look at the signs at the subway entrance to see if the trains are going uptown, downtown, etc. Typically there is one across the street going the other way. You can buy a Metro Card (multiple rides) at vending machines in all the stations. Just walk down the stairs and you’ll find at least one machine. If you aren't from the North, "dip your card" is their way of telling you to insert your credit card into the machine. Don't get on an express train unless you are certain it will stop at your destination. 

2. Make a plan. I map out our trip before we go and create an Excel spreadsheet with addresses and cross streets. I typically work on this over time, so having a document saved is helpful. Close to the trip date, I put it in my phone's calendar with approximate times, and this helps me keep us on track.

3. Get out of the way. When waiting at a subway station and the train stops, use elevator etiquette: let people off, then enter and move quickly to a seat or a standing position. If you have to stand, hold on. If there is no hand bar available, stand with legs apart and be prepared to use your legs to brace the sudden movements. Once out of the way, enjoy the scenery. This is the best people-watching place to see real New Yorkers. They are the ones asleep or reading the paper. When you exit the subway station, you will not know where you are, in terms of heading north or south, etc. Walk out and then move immediately over until you get your bearings or can check a map app.

4. Move with the flow. Your primary means of transportation will be your feet. Crossing the street means paying attention. Get off your phone when on the sidewalks. Cross streets only at cross walks. However, New Yorkers don't wait for the cross signal, but rather watch the traffic and move quickly when it's clear. Don’t just follow people blindly, as you may get run over. If you get confused and need to look at your phone's map, move out of the way. New Yorkers don’t appreciate slow walkers or groups who walk 3-4 abreast. If you ask someone for directions, try to be as general as possible, such as, “Where can we find a subway with a downtown train?” They don't have time for your long explanations.

5. Hail a cab. When going short distances, a taxi may be your best bet. Step out as far as possible and put your hand up very matter-of-factly,as if you know what you are doing, even if you don't. Only hail the ones that have lights on (and not the "Off Duty" light). Taxis turn off their lights when they have passengers. As you enter the taxi, tell the driver the cross streets of where you are going, not the exact address.
You will be let you out somewhere close. Never get in an unmarked car (usually dark sedans). These are not licensed and will overcharge you. If one pulls over and motions to you, shake your head “no.” Be aware that taking a taxi may take you longer than taking the subway, because of traffic.

1 comment:

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