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New York City Travel Tips and Information
New York has 3 main airports. If you have questions about travel into and out of NYC airports you can find ground transportation and parking information at this toll-free number: 1-800-247-7433 (AirRide).
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Maps or Layouts of the 3 Airports can be found by clicking here.
We STRONGLY recommend that when you arrive at the airport you go straight to the Transportation Desk or taxi dispatcher to arrange your preferred transportation. DO NOT accept offers of rides from people hanging around in the terminal because there is a high risk of being cheated.
Connections between New York airports is poor. Unless you have plenty of time, we suggest using a taxi to make your connection, even though alternative transportation is slightly less expensive.
It would be very wise to allow at least 90 minutes for trips between midtown (Manhattan) and the airports, whether you use public transportation or a taxi. Rush hour traffic in NYC is notoriously bad, especially on the congested Van Wyck Expressway to Kennedy airport. The lack of elevators at most subway stations can also create difficulty moving luggage up and down subway stairs and peak hours should be avoided.
The New York City subway is the best way to travel around the city. The subway charges a flat fare of $2.25, regardless of the distance traveled. Do not be afraid of the subways. Go underground with you MetroCard (see below) in hand, and use the fastest transportation in the city.
Off-Hours / Weekend – Beware that while most of the subway is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, many lines do nut run on weekends or late nights. For a detailed look at what exactly each train line does during different hours consult the individual line maps on the MTA website: www.mta.info. Remember, if you feel confused, ask someone for help.
Swiping Technique – To pass through the turnstile, you must slide the card with the logo facing you and magnetic strip down. The trick is to hold the card out to your side in a fixed position and walk it through as if it were coming in for a landing. The cards are designed so that experienced users can swipe through without breaking stride. Swiping the card improperly or moving the turnstile incorrectly could mean forfeiture of your card (for pay-per-ride cards) or a lockout of 18 minutes (for unlimited ride cards). If this happens, go to a full-service token booth and explain the problem. The attendant will ask for your MetroCard, confirm that it was charged, and let you go through.
The New York City Transit Authority issues MetroCards for using the bus and subway system in the city. While it is possible to pay for a bus using exact change (in coins) you must have a MetroCard to enter the subway system. Cards can be bought online, at stations (either from a vending machine or token booth), or at many grocery stores and newstands (look for the MetroCard sign on the store window). Information on types of MetroCards and fares can be found online at the Metrocard website; www.mta.info/metrocard.
Which MetroCard is best for you?
MetroCards can be used to obtain discounts throughout the year at venues across New York City in the form of "MetroCard Deals”. Trains, buses, and stations will post signs announcing these "Deals”, which can be redeemed by showing your MetroCard at a ticket booth or a merchandise counter. The MetroCard website posts the current MetroCard Deals; www.mta.info/metrocard/tourism/mc_promotions.htm.
Current New York City taxi fare information can be found at this page – www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/taxicab_rate.shtml. At the bottom of the page you will find the Taxicab Rider’s Bill of Rights. Rates are also printed on taxi doors. The base rate on entering a taxi is $2.50.
Yellow Cabs: Real NYC taxis are yellow, have a metal seal on the hood (“medallion”), a light with the medallion number on the roof, a meter for billing, stickers on the windshield for various licenses, special taxi license plates and a divider in the car. If the medallion number on the roof is lit, the taxi is available. If the medallion number on the roof is not lit or the off-duty sign on the roof is lit, the taxi is not available. Tips of 10%-20% are expected and passengers must pay all tolls. “Yellow Cabs” can be found in most of Manhattan and are also available at dispatcher lines in airports. They are more difficult to find in the other four boroughs. Cabs are now required to accept credit card payments.
Ferries provide a wonderful alternative to seeing New York. The most famous ferry is the Staten Island Ferry (www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/ferrybus/statfery.shtml), running from the tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to Staten Island. The ferry carries passengers and bicycles only, runs every 15 minutes during rush hours, and is FREE. The ride gives a good view of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. This trip is very popular with visitors…and did we say it’s FREE.
During baseball season, we would suggest seeing the Staten Island Yankees (www.siyanks.com), as their park is conveniently located next to the St. George Ferry Landing, and the Manhattan skyline can be seen past centerfield. A truly relaxing and wonderful place to see a baseball game.
Another service, New York Water Taxi (www.nywatertaxi.com) runs ferries between points within Manhattan, plus some connections to Brooklyn and New Jersey. Their boats are painted to look like taxis and their service is not free.
Visitors to New York City do not need a car and having one is definitely not worth the headache. Street parking is nonexistent near crowded areas and tourist attractions. Garage parking rates range from very expensive to absurd. Traffic is usually horrible and NYC drivers are extremely aggresive. There are very few gas stations, especially in Manhattan, where only a handful exist around the perimeter of the island. Gas prices are also much higher than normal. Unlike other places in the United States, making a right turn at a red light is illegal within New York City limits, except where posted. Major car rental agencies have offices throughout the city, but be warned that car rentals are more expensive than elsewhere in the U.S., and frequently require a deposit of up to $500 if you do not have a credit card.