Moving around New York

Frankly, Manhattan’s transportation systems are a marvel.
It’s simply miraculous that so many people can gather on this little island and move around it. For the most part, you can get where you’re going pretty quickly and easily using some combination of subways, buses, and cabs.

Contact the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Information Bureau (Tel: (718) 330 1234; www.mta.info), which is available 24 hours a day for transport information. New York Maps are available from the information booth at Grand Central Station or the New York Convention and Visitors’ Bureau at 2 Columbus Circle.

Subway
Despite its reputation, the subway is the best way to get around New York. The subway runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Express trains “leapfrog” several stations at a time, while “locals” stop at each one. A route map is displayed in each carriage and can also be easily obtained free of charge by request at any subway token booth. Passengers buy Metrocards of varying denominations (a $20 card provides two bonus rides). You can also obtain discounted daily, weekly, monthly or pay-per-ride cards at token booths or vending machines at subway stations. These cards generally provide the easiest and cheapest way to travel via city buses and subways.

Bus
Almost 40 services run in Manhattan, mostly running north-south along the avenues, with crosstown (east-west) services every ten block or so. Bus stops are indicated by red, white and blue poles marked with route numbers. Enter at the front and pay a flat fare; drop the exact money into the fare box or use a Metrocard. If you need to change buses, ask the driver for a free Addfare ticket.

Taxis
Hail or wave when you see a cab displaying an illuminated “available” sign. Fares are metered, with surcharges for weekend and night-time trips.

Trains
Amtrak serves stations to the north and south of the city from both Grand Central and Penn stations. The Long Island Railroad serves destinations in Queens, and both the north and south shores of Long Island from Penn Station. Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) provides commuter services to Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken in New Jersey from stations in Manhattan.

Organised Tours
The best way to get the most out of New York is to tour on foot, and a number of companies and special interest organisations exist which arrange walking tours for groups, usually led by an expert in a particular area or subject. Get a copy of the official NYC Guide (via local New York tourist offices or check online www.nycvisit.com).

The Bronx Country Historical Society and Brooklyn Historical Society boat lead strolling tours of the highlights of their respective areas. In Central Park the Urban Rangers organise a year-round programme of free educational walks. Various companies specialise in tours of Harlem. Harlem Your Way (www.harlemyourwaytours.com) offers tours that cater to special interest, including Sunday church visits, jazz walks or general interest. More specific but still fun, The Enthusiastic Gourmet introduces tastes and flavours of the city via food shops and restaurants, interspersed with local history.

Circle Line offers a three-hour circumnavigation of Manhattan Island. Trips operate from the Hudson River end of 42nd Street several times a day. A faster alternative is The Beast Speed Boat, a 30-minute, 70km/h race through New York Harbour (May-October only). There is also a two-hour evening cruise of New York Harbour and Lower Manhattan. Cheapest of all, of course, is the free Staten Island Ferry.

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