Find the best ways to travel around the City with our guide to subways, buses, ferries, biking and other modes of transport.
If you can’t walk to your destination, mass transit is the next-best way to get around. The City’s rail and bus system is run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and known as . It’s inexpensive, environmentally friendly and a great way to see sights throughout the five boroughs—and it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
All public transit buses are accessible to passengers with visual, hearing and mobility disabilities, and so are portions of the subway system. For more information, consult the and its , as well as our article on .
The MTA has introduced a new contactless payment system dubbed (One Metro New York) for all buses and subway trains. Card readers at train stations or buses will accept credit, debit and prepaid cards; digital wallets from Google, Apple and Samsung; or wearables such as Apple Watch and Fitbit. Alternatively, you can buy and reload (with cash or credit card) a dedicated OMNY card at stores across the city (like CVS and Walgreens). Simply wave your card or device over the reader to pay. A single trip costs $2.75, no matter how far you travel (express bus rides costs $6.75). Use the same card or device to get a free transfer within two hours of first use. After you spend $33 in fares (that is, made 12 trips and paid with the same device) you receive free, unlimited rides for the rest of that calendar week (Mon–Sun).
The current MetroCard system will be retired in 2024; until then, MetroCards and SingleRide tickets ($3) will still be valid on buses and the subway. You can buy MetroCards at stations; you must put a minimum value of $5.50 on the card (up to a maximum of $80), not including the card fee ($1), when initially buying it. An unlimited MetroCard allows users to ride as often as they like within a fixed time period: options include cards that last for seven days ($33) or 30 days ($127). The MTA offers a 50 percent discount for seniors (65 or older) and riders with disabilities (you must apply for and be approved to receive this , which features your name and photograph). Reduced-Fare OMNY cards will be available sometime in 2023. Also, up to three children with a maximum height of 44 inches each can get on subways and buses for free when they are traveling with a fare-paying adult; children under 2 can ride express buses for free if they sit in the lap of an accompanying adult. For the most up-to-date information on MetroCard prices, visit .
The easiest and quickest way to travel around NYC is by the subway. Riding the subway is also a fantastic way to feel like a local during your stay in New York.
• Subway trains operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• For $2.75 (the cost of a single ride when using a pay-per-ride MetroCard or OMNY contactless payment), you can use the system citywide and transfer to other subway lines as many times as you need, as long as you don’t exit through a turnstile.
• You can transfer from subway to local bus or vice versa within two hours of using your pay-per-ride MetroCard or OMNY payment (all transfers are free with an Unlimited Ride MetroCard, but it cannot be used at the same subway station or on the same bus route for at least 18 minutes, nor can it be used on an express bus).
• Subway stations on the same line are generally about 8 to 10 blocks apart on local lines (the stops on express trains are usually farther apart).
• The subway does not travel to Staten Island. To get there, board the free Staten Island Ferry or take a bus. The connects the ferry terminal in St. George to the island’s southern tip at Tottenville, stopping at several communities along the western side of the borough, and connecting with numerous buses.
You can get a free subway map from booth attendants or at the , or . You can also use the MTA’s for a customized route (but it’s still a good idea to carry a subway map when you’re out and about). The Trip Planner offers routes for MTA bus lines as well. Sometimes subway routes change or trains temporarily stop running—especially on weekends and late nights during weekdays—so be sure to check for up-to-date MTA service information at or by calling 511 or 718-330-1234.
Public buses are a scenic way to see the City and reach destinations not convenient to a subway stop. It’s also worth noting that mass transit is central to New York City’s efforts to become more environmentally friendly, and a growing number of NYC’s buses are hybrid-electric and electric models. The MTA aims to have its entire 5,800-bus fleet made up of zero-emissions vehicles by 2040.
• All city buses accept the MetroCard, OMNY contactless payments, and exact coin change (no pennies or paper money).
• Check the route sign on the front of the bus before boarding, and make sure you know if it’s making all stops or only “limited” stops (the limited buses don’t make all stops along the route).
• Enter and pay at the front of the bus. The exception to this is on SBS (Select Bus Service) routes, where payment kiosks are on the sidewalk next to the bus stop.
• A single fare will take you any distance until the end of the route (and you can transfer for free from one local bus to another within two hours of paying your initial fare); you may be able to remain aboard, however, if the driver is beginning the route again and isn’t scheduled to return to the bus depot.
• Many buses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but be sure to check whether your route offers overnight service. A schedule and route map posted at the bus stop indicate when the bus should arrive and where it will go.
• Buses run about every five to 15 minutes, or at longer intervals, depending on the time of day.
• Locate your bus stop’s six-digit stop code on the sign posted and text that plus the route number to 511123—or, if you have a smartphone, that’s also posted or visit the page—to receive information about when the next bus is expected to arrive.
• Buses generally stop every other block on avenue routes and every block on cross-street routes. Late at night and early morning, from 10pm to 5am, drivers for local and express buses will stop wherever you ask them to—as long as they can stop safely (and, if it’s an express bus, only when they are dropping off passengers).
• MTA service information is available at or by calling 718-330-1234.
The MTA’s is the most reliable source for up-to-date information about routes and fares.
With the swipe of a MetroCard, the Roosevelt Island Tram gives you an aerial view of Midtown East along its path from East 60th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. The tram got its start in 1976. It provides direct service seven days a week (Sun.–Thurs., 6am–2am; Fri.–Sat., 6am–3:30am) for more than 2 million riders annually, with free transfers available to and from MTA subways and buses. Up to three children with a maximum height of 44 inches each can ride the tram for free when they are traveling with a fare-paying adult. The tram is expected to switch to the OMNY contactless payment system once MetroCards are retired in 2024. For more information, visit .
If you are in need of more ways to get around the City, we have you covered. Bikes, ferries and cabs can take you to all corners of NYC.
The City’s fleet of yellow taxicabs and green Boro Taxis are licensed and regulated by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission. Grabbing a cab can be ideal when tired feet, heavy luggage or shopping bags weigh you down.
• Taxis are available 24 hours a day.
• Hail taxis whose numbers are illuminated on top—they’re on duty.
• Board and exit the cab curbside.
• Hotel doormen can hail a cab for you; a $1 tip is customary for this service.
• Minimum metered fare is $3, which increases 70 cents every fifth of a mile or every minute, depending on how fast you’re traveling.
• There is also an MTA state surcharge of 50 cents per ride and a $1 improvement surcharge.
• An additional $2.50 rush hour surcharge is added to the meter Monday through Friday, 4–8pm (excluding holidays), and a $1 surcharge is added daily at night and early morning, 8pm–6am.
• There’s also the New York State Congestion Surcharge of $2.50 (yellow taxis) or $2.75 (Boro taxis) for all trips that begin, end or pass through Manhattan south of 96th Street.
• All taxis accept cash and credit, debit and prepaid cards.
• Tip 15–20 percent at the end of a trip; bridge and tunnel tolls are extra and added to the metered fare.
• Yellow taxicabs pick up street-hailing passengers anywhere in NYC. Green Boro taxis provide street-hail service and prearranged service in northern Manhattan (above E. 96th St. and W. 110th St.) and in the other boroughs. Visit the for more information.
• Dial 311 in NYC to inquire about lost items or other concerns; visit the for more info and the organization’s for additional fare details as well as specifics regarding different destinations.
• Drivers are required to take passengers to any destination in New York City. It is against the law for drivers to refuse a person based on race, disability or destination within the five boroughs. If you believe you have been subject to discrimination, file a complaint by calling 311 or visiting .
• In addition to cabs, there are numerous local car services, as well as popular app-based options like and , to get you from place to place. For airport transport, choices include , which guarantees car seats for those with kids.
Given the efficiency of public transport in New York City, it’s not the best idea to drive, especially in Manhattan (roads are very busy and parking is very expensive)—though there are select areas of the boroughs that a car may make more accessible or convenient. If you’re planning to drive around the City, use to help you navigate New York City roads; there are also apps like to help you get around. Make sure you know where to park. The venues on our site, for instance, list nearby parking spaces courtesy of the app, so you can compare parking rates and locations and make reservations. If you need to rent a car (note that all the major car rental companies have locations at the airports and elsewhere within the City), it may be worth considering and , which offer car-share programs that allow members to book vehicles for as little as an hour and as long as a week (for Enterprise) or 14 days (for Zipcar), 24 hours a day. With use of either program, the City offers —a pilot program that was extended indefinitely in 2021.
Biking the City is good for the environment and your body, and can often be faster and cheaper than fuel-powered transportation. Cycling hot spots like Central, Riverside and Prospect Parks are great options for hitting the City on two wheels, as are bike paths along the Hudson and East Rivers and on many bridges—but just about all of NYC is bikeable. The NYC Department of Transportation publishes a downloadable and a , and provides additional resources for bicyclists.
is New York City’s bike-sharing system, and it has gained a quick adoption since its inception in May 2013. There are around 27,000 bikes at some 1,700 stations, available 24/7 every day of the year. Unlock a bike at any station, ride wherever you want and check in the bike at any other station. Single ride ($4.49), daily ($19), and annual passes ($205) are available.
Plenty of operations rent bikes by the hour, two hours, half-day and full day, with many such companies located near the major biking destinations mentioned above. Some, like and , also offer guided tours or suggested itineraries for independent exploration.
If you want someone else to do the pedaling for you, hop in a pedicab (sometimes called a “bike taxi” or “bicycle rickshaw”). You won’t have to look too hard in the busier parts of Manhattan—the drivers aren’t shy about offering their services. Pedicab rates are not fixed, so always agree the price before you get in—usually $3–7 per minute.
As a waterfront city, New York is home to an extensive ferry system that can get you uptown or downtown in Manhattan and across the rivers to Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey.
The , operated by the City since 1905, is a staple of many morning and evening commutes—and taking a ride on it is a must-do on any sightseeing itinerary. In use since 1905, the route between Staten Island and Manhattan’s Whitehall Ferry Terminal is a glorious 5-mile, 25-minute mini-cruise with great views of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and Lower Manhattan—and it’s free.
is an extensive waterway transportation network, with multiple stops in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens; a couple in the Bronx (Soundview and Throgs Neck) and one in Staten Island; as well as Roosevelt Island, Governors Island and Rockaway Beach. You can take a boat ride on any route for $4 (it’s just $1.35 for senior citizens 65 and over, and for any customer with disabilities)—and children under 44" ride for free. Transfers are free within two hours of your first trip. A 10-trip pass is $27.50. You can also bring your bike on board for no extra charge (the first 8–10 non-folding bikes only, otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the next ferry). For the route map and schedule, visit the NYC Ferry .
operates several commuter ferry routes between points in Manhattan (along the Hudson River at West 39th Street in Midtown, and at Brookfield Place/Battery Park City and Pier 11, near Wall Street) and various points in New Jersey, plus various harbor and sightseeing cruises. Fares vary according to route, ranging $9 to $11.25. Free shuttle buses in Midtown and downtown Manhattan and in New Jersey transport riders to and from ferry terminals.
If you’re bringing a dog or cat along on your NYC adventure, you’ll have no trouble getting around—but it’s important to know the rules.
Only pets enclosed in containers or carriers are allowed on MTA buses, subways and trains, as well as in taxis. Properly harnessed service animals are also permitted on mass transit. Taxi drivers may, at their discretion, pick up passengers who have dogs without carry cases. The City is also home to several pet-taxi companies that can help transport pets, especially those that are not allowed on ordinary public transit.
Pet Chauffeur: 212-696-9744; www.petchauffeur.comK9 Cars: 718-683-2152; http://k9cars.com