How To Get Around New York
Do you love a New York city bus ride or hopping on the Staten Island Ferry for a jaunt across the Hudson River? Do you need to get to JFK International Airport or Newark Liberty International Airport? Maybe you are planning a day trip to Atlantic City in New Jersey to see New York City's skyline from a different angle.
The public transportation system in NYC is vastly different from basically every other major city in the United States. New Yorkers rely heavily on public transportation such as the New York subway and that entity has grown exponentially, leaving private transport such as driving your own car or hiring a private car in the dust.
Locals have grown accustomed to the various public transportation methods and think nothing of hopping on a bus or the subway and then walking to their destination. Visitors are generally wary of the New York transit system and can quickly become confused by all the ways to get around the city.
Figuring out how to get around New York City really is not rocket science, but it will take you a bit of trial and error before you master the subway or bus ride and can easily move about the city like a true native. Buying a MetroCard is the best way to make sure you can board certain modes of public transit and get around NYC.
Are you planning a day of hopping from place to place to see the sights? Stow your belongings with our NYC luggage storage facilities and see amazing places like Central Park. Or consider a ride on the Staten Island Ferry!
How to get around New York City by train
There are a total of 472 train stations in NYC, 470 of these stations are open 24 hours a day. While some are wheelchair accessible, many of the smaller, older stations are not accessibility friendly. While this guide covers some of the bigger train stations in NYC, it does not cover all 472, most of the bigger stations are the ones that visitors will most likely be passing through.
Address: 393 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
The Pennsylvania Station New York City is one of the biggest stations in NYC. It is for Amtrak trains and is open 24 hours. There is one mobility accessible entrance with an elevator for wheelchairs located at the corner of 7th Avenue and 31st Street at the NJ Transit concourse.
Grand Central Station
Address: 89 E. 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017
With 44 platforms, Grand Central Station has the most platforms than any other station in the entire world! Aside from Pennsylvania Station, Grand Central Station sees the most passengers each year. It was once the main hub for Amtrak trains until Amtrak moved to Penn Station.
There are over 60 shops and 35 restaurants inside Grand Central Station for visitors to explore. This station has been renovated to include wheelchair accessible entry points for almost all platforms and most of the shops and eateries offer mobility accessible entries and/or seating.
MTA – Canal Street Subway Station
Address: Canal Street located between Centre Street and Broadway, New York, NY 10013
This subway station serves several lower Manhattan neighborhoods including Little Italy, Chinatown, and SoHo. Great Chinese food is just a subway ride away! The station opened in 1917 and is one of the oldest stations in NYC. The station services trains J, N, Q, R, W, Z, 4, and 6.
It is partially mobility accessible with an elevator that leads to the northbound platform only for trains 4 and 6. This elevator is located at the corner of Lafayette Street and Canal Street. There are several great places to visit near this station including street food vendors offering delicious and filling creations.
MTA – Canal Street & 6th Avenue Subway Station
Address: Canal Street and 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10013
This is another station that gives you close access to Chinatown in Manhattan as well as Tribeca, near the Holland Tunnel. This station has trains A, C, and E passing through and intersecting 6th Avenue and Canal Street.
While not a big station, this station does have a lot of people passing through because passengers can easily get to Holland Tunnel and Chinatown from here. There is not really much to see at the station but Canal Street almost always has something interesting happening.
Christopher Street Path Station
Address: Christopher Street and Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
This Port Authority Trans-Hudson or PATH station is located in the West Village and is centrally located to shops, restaurants, and attractions. There is only one platform and it does get pretty crowded, especially on the weekends and early evenings.
This station is not wheelchair accessible, there are several stairs that you have to navigate before getting to the platform. People with mobility issues will find it difficult to access this station whether coming or going. But there are plenty of vending machines if you need a snack or cold drink.
Moynihan Train Hall
Address: 421 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
One of the newest Amtrak stations in NYC, Moynihan Train Hall opened in January 2021 and is a fantastic place to relax while waiting for your train. With a lot of natural light and comfortable seating, you will really enjoy visiting. Grab a bite to eat at one of the great little places in the food court or from one of the vending machines.
There are even plenty of outlets for you to charge your devices while you wait to catch your train. There are plenty of ramps and elevators making it easy to board with strollers or wheelchairs. With several monitors displaying train departures and arrivals, you will know exactly when and where to go. First class passengers have access to the exclusive Metropolitan Lounge.
Rector Street BMT Station
Address: Rector Street, New York, NY 10006
This retro station is one of the last ones in downtown Manhattan to still have the blue cinderblock tiles which more than likely cover the original mosaic work from when the station was built. Its sister stations at Cortlandt, 8th, and 23rd Streets had the cinderblock tiles removed and the original mosaic tiles fully restored.
The Rector Street Station is a part of the subway system and is the last stop in Manhattan before crossing into Brooklyn. It is only one stop to the north of Whitehall Street and is on the Broadway line. This train station is not accessible to wheelchairs or other mobility vehicles.
New York City Subway
Address: 3rd Avenue E. 14th Street, New York, NY 10003
The NYC subway is a beast like no other but it really is the fastest way to get around NYC; they operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. It can be very intimidating for visitors not used to the system, but for locals, it is nothing to hop on and off subway trains and move about the city.
If you are planning on utilizing the NYC subway system, be sure to get a Metro Card and preload it so all you have to do is swipe it and go. You can also use your Metro Card to ride the city bus. Most of the stations on the same line will be about eight to ten blocks apart, express trains are spaced further apart. It's a wonderful way to move about if you're enjoying a day shopping!
Clark Street 2/3 Station
Address: Clark Street and Henry Street, New York, NY 11201
The only way to access this station is by elevator however, the platform is not wheelchair accessible, there is a flight of stairs and no elevator leading down to the platform. The Clark Street Station only has the 2 and 3 trains of the subway coming and going.
It is the first stop in Brooklyn and can be crowded during certain times, especially during the weekend. Explore the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood when you are planning on checking out this station.
Nassau Boulevard Station
Address: Nassau Boulevard Station, Garden City, NY
Located in Garden City on the west side of Nassau Boulevard, with only five Long Island Railroad stations in the village, it is a pretty popular place for both locals and tourists. The station was first used for Stewart’s Central Railroad and built in 1907.
The station was built using Alexander Turney Stewart’s plans almost four decades after his death. Stewart is the founder of Garden City and he envisioned a railroad line that only served the village and provided a quicker way to move about.
How to get around New York City by bus
Riding the public bus in NYC is pretty much the same as in any other major city across the U.S. The bus system, like the rail system, is operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, and is an inexpensive way to move about the city. Although, most city buses are not wheelchair accessible. You can contact MTA or check out the accessibility guide on their website about select bus services.
The bus system does have stops in all five boroughs and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You will want to purchase a MetroCard and preload it so you can move about the city easily by swiping your card, although most buses accept cash. Be sure to keep your MetroCard so you can keep refilling it and not have to pay for a new card each time.
Local bus rides are cheaper than taxis and express buses are about double the cost of the local fare. Riding the bus is a great way to see more of the city without having to navigate large crowds. Bus stops are located a few blocks from subway stations and buses usually stop every block on cross-street routes and every other block when on avenue routes. You even get a free transfer using your MetroCard.
The front of each bus displays its route so be sure to check the bus emblem before boarding to make sure you are on the right bus. You can find the entire bus route on the MTA website or pick up a printout of the schedule from any booth at stations throughout the city, some hotels keep copies of the bus schedule and subway map on hand for guests. You can also ask about bus tours of NYC.
How to get around New York City by car
NYC streets are always congested and making your way through the city by car can be difficult and time consuming. Driving around the city may sound like a good idea, but in reality, it will be a bigger pain with trying to find parking, navigating through the streets, and dealing with other drivers who can quickly become irate. There are several major car rental companies to choose from.
The official NYC taxi is yellow and operated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Their rates are also printed on the door of each taxi. In NYC only yellow taxis can pick up passengers hailing them. An available taxi will have its light on and you have to grab the driver’s attention quickly before someone else snatches your lift.
In the outer boroughs including midtown Manhattan and upper Manhattan, the taxis are generally green not yellow cab and the green taxis are not allowed to pick passengers up below West 110th Street or East 96th Street. Passengers can, however, be dropped off past those points.
You are expected to pay a base fee, plus a congestion fee and any tolls. Then the taxi is metered and you will pay a set price per mile and they mostly accept cash. Some taxi drives can be brusque and somewhat outspoken, but if you are wanting to stay above ground and move through NYC, it is probably your fastest option to get around the city.
For the most part, rideshare services will work the same in NYC as they do in your own hometown or closest major city. Generally, rideshare is less expensive than a taxi, but still pricey, and you can find an available car using an app you download and it is better than public transport.
To save money, you can opt to share your car with friends or even strangers. Drivers for rideshare services are usually calmer and not as loud as taxi drivers in NYC and the ride may be more pleasant for you.
Can I get around New York City by foot?
Many New Yorkers prefer to make their way through parts on NYC on foot, especially if you are only going a few blocks. It is generally easier to just walk a few blocks, however, if you are going longer distances, using public transportation or hailing a taxi are the better options.
There are several areas in NYC, especially in Manhattan and Staten Island where pedestrian walkways are almost always congested. With over eight million people calling NYC home, you can bet the streets and public transportation hubs will be crawling with people day and night.
Sometimes, walking is the only way to get where you need to go, especially when the streets are flooded with cars during rush hour creating traffic jams and the train stations are jam packed with riders. Wear comfortable shoes and pick the areas you want to explore on foot by taking a few walking tours.
From Greenwich Village to Jersey City
Learning how to get around New York City from South Brooklyn to the upper east side and all points in between can be tricky if you are not a native. The public transport system including NYC subways and NYC taxi service is a very unique beast and will take some getting used to. Even the Staten Island Railway and Roosevelt Island Tram can be challenging.
As you begin to learn the ins and outs of getting around the city you will see more of this magnificent place including Central Park and Wall Street and feel more at ease traveling further into the different boroughs. Wondering where to stay in the city? Our ultimate NYC neighborhood guide can help you decide!