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New York City Travel Tips and Information


Airports


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)
JFK , in Queens at the south end of the Van Wyck Expressway, primarily handles international flights.
There is a $45 flat-rate taxi cost from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan (excluding tolls and tips).
General Information: 718-244-4444
Parking Information: 718-244-4168

LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
LaGuardia, also in Queens on the Grand Central Parkway, mainly handles domestic (U.S.) flights.
Taxis to and from most points in Manhattan cost $20-$30 plus tips and tolls.
General Information: 718-533-3400
Parking Information: 718-533-3850

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Newark Airport in New Jersey handles both domestic and international flights. Although further from the
City than the other 2 airports, it is usually less crowded and has more modern facilities.
Taxis are available outside the terminals. Fare to most parts of Manhattan is $50-$70 plus tips & tolls.
General Information: 973-961-6000
Parking Information: 888-397-4636

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.

Subway

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.

A free subway map can be found online at our maps page. Maps can also be found at staffed token booths.

Every subway line is identified by either a letter or a number. Ignore the colors. Unless you restrict your subway use to the midtown area, relying on colors is a sure way to get lost. Token booth attendants can also be very helpful in advising you which line to take to your destination.

Some lines are Express lines. Express lines do not stop at every station, so make sure you get on the right train. Local and express lines use different tracks, but there is always a local line accompanying the express line. For example, the 2 and 3 are express trains for the 7th Avenue Line between 96th Street and Chambers Street in Manhattan, but the 1 runs as a local line alongside them.

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.

Note, for safety reasons, DO NOT wait for the trains near the edge of the platform or on the extreme ends of a station. Avoid subways late at night, and splurge on a cab after about 10pm.

MetroCards
You must have a metro card to enter the subway system. All stations have either (or both) a MetroCard machine or a token booth where you can buy cards. Single rides are $2.25 (single ride cards must be purchased at a machine). You can transfer from one subway line to another for FREE as often as you like at designated transfer stations (any station where you can cross over to a different line/direction without exiting through a turnstile).

With a MetroCard, you can transfer from subway to local bus, local bus to local bus, express bus to subway, or express bus to local bus during a 2-hour period for FREE.

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.

MetroCard

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?
It depends on how long you plan to stay, how you intend to use the system, and how often you intend to use the system. The base fare is $2.25 which you pay when you board a bus or pass through a station turnstile for the first time. However, most MetroCards discount this fare:

  • The Single Ride MetroCard is available for $2.25 at stores and at MetroCard vending machines in subway stations. You cannot buy this card at a token booth. This card allows no free transfers to other buses, or subway lines, if you leave the system. It is only valid for up to two hours after purchase.
  • Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards are available from $4 to $80 at vending machines and token booths. Any purchase over $8 gives you a 15% bonus (every $10 gives you an extra $1.50). Transfers between bus and subway are available. This is the best option if you are spending a few days in New York and plan on using public transportation occasionally.
  • One-Day Funpass available for $8.25 from stores and MetroCard vending machines (but not at token booths). Unlimited use of subways and buses from the time you first use the card till 3 a.m. of the next day. An amazing deal if you plan on using the transportation system heavily for one day.
  • Seven-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard available for $27 from token booths and vending machines. Valid from the time you first use the card to midnight of the seventh day. At under $3.60 a day, this is a great deal for anyone spending a week in the city. It's not valid on express buses or the JFK AirTrain.
  • 14-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, at $51.50, and 30-Day, at $89, save more money for longer visits. If you buy them with a credit or debit card, you can get a prorated refund in case of loss.
  • More specialized variations include the Seven-Day Express Bus Plus pass at $45, which also includes unlimited use of the express buses (mostly serving Staten Island), and two JFK Airtrain-specific options: a 30-day unlimited AirTrain pass for $40, and a 10-trip pass for $25, both of which are valid only for AirTrain.

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.

Taxis


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.


By Ferry


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.

Cars


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.