The subway runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The fare to ride the subway is $2.00 for a single ride, or there are discounts for multiple ride combinations and also unlimited fare cards for set periods. The subway system is made up of different lines that go from one terminal to another.
The NYC subway system extends to four of the five boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. It does not extend to Staten Island, and it also does not cross the city border anywhere. Where these lines cross in the same or connected stations, you may transfer between trains. It is free to transfer at such stations.
When you enter a subway station, you are in an area that is called the mezzanine. In the mezzanine are the turnstiles and, in most cases, a token booth. There is also a large map of the entire subway system on the wall, along with a bus map and a neighborhood map. You will also find machines where you can purchase fare cards, called MetroCards. You can also buy MetroCards from the clerk in the booth. If you want your own subway map or bus map, the clerk has these in the booth. They are free, so ask for one! You can either buy a card with a set dollar amount (which you can increase by giving the clerk more money when getting low) or you can buy a card with unlimited use for a certain period of time. The cards with set values may be used by several riders, however, the unlimited use card cannot be shared and cannot be reused for up to 18 minutes.
Once you have entered the turnstile, you continue to the platform. Look at the signs that show what lines stop there and also whether that platform is for uptown or downtown trains. Keep in mind that in Manhattan, “uptown” means NORTH of where you are standing and “downtown” means SOUTH. This is important: To get to 81st Street from 125th Street, you are going south and want a downtown train. However, to get to 81st Street from Pennsylvania Station, you are going north, and so to go to that same station from a different starting point you want an uptown train.
Notes: When navigating, call the trains by their names or numbers, not by their colors! Also, the NYC subway has both local trains (“C” or “E”) that stop at every station, and express trains (“A”) that use a different track and that skip many stations, stopping just at certain major stations.
Lastly, if you are lost, ask people. New Yorkers love to give directions and will give you all kinds of advice. Transit Authority employees are more reliable sources of information than other passengers, but they are often busy. Your best bet always is to ask police officers assigned to the NYPD Transit Bureau (look for a TB on their right collar point), and they will be happy to assist you.
Additional subway information:
MTA Subway Map: (http://web.mta.info/maps/submap.html)
NYC Subway with bus and railroad connections: (http://web.mta.info/nyct/maps/subwaymap.pdf)
Subway lines and services: (http://www.nycsubwayguide.com/subway/subway_map.aspx)
NYC: The official guide: (www.nyc.go.com)