Any New Yorker you come across is going to have a lot of opinions - but maybe the strongest will be whether to take the bus or the subway to get around town. With such a huge city, driving by car is practically obsolete, unless you want to spend a few hours going ten blocks. The subway and bus are certainly your best options, but which is truly the most efficient? Here we weigh in on the NYC transportation battle: buses vs subways.
Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Subway has been an efficient part of NYC transportation for over 100 years now. Because of the role subways have played in many movies, many tourists may be fearful of going underground, thinking it may be dangerous. Fortunately, these fears are unwarranted -- there are some 3,000 officers on the subway at all times in plain clothes, keeping watch over everything going on. As far as comfort goes, the subways themselves are heated and air-conditioned, but the underground stands are not -- making them about twenty degrees hotter in the summer, and twenty cooler in the winter. Just like in any large city, pickpocketing will be an issue, but you simply must be careful about where you're placing your wallet or purse.
As far as cost goes, the subway offers many options. For a two-hour period, you'll pay $2.50 for a ride, plus the $1 cost of a card (which you can then add money to). There are discounts for seniors, students and children to be aware of when purchasing. Once on the subway, you can transfer to any line for free as long as you aren't leaving the station. For locals, most can by a "family" card, which can be swiped up to four times for riders. If you're staying a week, you can grab a 7-day unlimited card for just $30 -- and if you're staying a month, the price rises to $112.
Getting around on the subway can be a bit tricky at first if you aren't familiar with the maps, but in general, you just need to know if you're going north or south. All subways run in this direction, so knowing where you need to go from a compass-standpoint is useful. Of course, many apps and websites now exist to get you from point A to B with total ease.
If you need to travel east or west, many New Yorkers recommend grabbing the bus, because they can drop you off right in front of your destination -- which the subway cannot in these directions. If you're going to combine the two, you can do so for free within a two hour period of the first ride. Of course, with the bus, you have to be prepared to get stuck in traffic every ten or so blocks -- so bide your time well.
The cost of the bus is $2.75 for a ride, with discounts for seniors and children, payable by a metro card or exact change (don't hop on the bus with a twenty hoping for change -- the drivers don't carry any cash on them). Luckily, the Alliance for Downtown New York's Downtown Connection offers free rides to many top destinations, including Battery Park City, the World Financial Center, and South Street Seaport. The buses run daily every 15 minutes or so, making dozens of quick stops along a 5-mile route from Chambers Street on the west side to Beekman Street on the east side.
To use the bus system, you have to find your way to the exact stop, and you better be quick -- they only stop for a few seconds for riders to hop on. Every major avenue has its own bus route, and stops aren't very far apart, making it easy to hop on from almost any destination.
Overall, the real decision is to made by each individual, but each system offers its own benefits and drawbacks. Luckily, you're in the greatest city in the world -- enjoy NYC!