NYC Subway: Yay or Nay

NYC Subway Yay or Nay

There are pros and cons to every form of transportation in a busy city. This is especially amplified in a huge and bustling city like New York City. In New York City the most popular choice is often the NYC Subway system. It is an interesting facet of the way the city functions and above all else it is part of what keeps the city running! As a tourist attraction it can be a complex subject. Use this guide to the NYC Subway to decide for yourself if it is a Yay or a Nay.

I think it’s always best to end on a high note so let’s cover the downsides first…

  • Remember you are in a city…a hugely populated city that never seems to stop moving. The subway is always busy and from a tourist standpoint this can be extremely overwhelming especially with kids.
  • Again, hugely busy and full of all kinds of travelers…the subway is going to be dirty and often it is clouded by the elements. Because it is underground it is semi protected but it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • The underground location and the natural (and unnatural) dirt attract a variety of furry critters. Don’t be surprised if you see mice, rats, and other rodents.
  • Because the NYC Subway system is such a large part of how people who live in the city get around you should expect it to be busy and crowded. That being said, not everyone shares you sense of hygiene or manners. Touch things and then sanitize or keep your hands to yourself!
  • The trains run underground for the most part so you shouldn’t plan to be able to work on emails, text messages, etc. Cell service can be intermittent at best.
  • Like all forms of transportation that run on a schedule you can miss trains, or be late because the train is running behind…plan ahead.

Don’t let that list overwhelm you! There are some really cool points about the NYC Subway system and some great pros to taking a ride!

  • Trains run 24/7. You can almost always get a ride heading in whatever direction you need to go. Unless there is a malfunction the subway system is largely a dependable form of transportation that moves you around the city without all the road blocks and traffic.
  • It is a NYC institution. If you are only going to be in New York City for a short time, or even just once in your life, you should take a ride just for the novelty of the institution. It’s amazing to think about how much work went into creating the system of tunnels and trains and also how much work goes into monitoring, maintaining, and managing the network.
  • There are often lots of live entertainers who perform in the subway for tips! If you are coming from any other place in the country or even the world this can be an entirely new and exciting experience!
  • Most of the stations have digital train maps that show updates, time schedule, etc. You can always see how long it’s going to take to get a train and where you can go with that train! If it’s your first time on the subway it can be a pretty fun experience to just ride the rails for part of the day, fun and really cool things to see!
  • Because the cell service is so poor in most spots you won’t have to listen to the guy next to you arguing with his girlfriend! (see that cell service can be both good and bad!)

No matter if you decide to ride the New York City Subway or not, it’s definitely something I would recommend checking out while you are in the city. There are so many stations, trains, and places to go it’s a fantastic network that moves the city. Amazing just to explore and learn about!

About Taylor Nikaci

95 comments

  1. Jeanette

    I have rode the New York City subway many times and I have to be with you it is a great way to travel just remember it is crowded and people don’t always smell good and not always all that nice! It can be the opposite also where it is a really nice ride and people are more than friendly just remember you can go either way and you will do great on the Subway!

  2. Tara

    Sometimes the subway can be a great mode of transportation but if you have multiple stops it can get confusing for travellers. We usually check out the subway at least once in a major city. Thanks for the great yay or nay list, good things to think about.

  3. Clarissa

    My family and I travel to NYC pretty frequently and we use the NYC subway as one of our main ways to get around the busy city. I love that you can buy a Metro card and keep it for your future trips to NYC.

  4. Chelley @ A is for Adelaide

    I love the subway… but I am not sure that I could do it during high times with the kids. NYC is hard (with me) for the kids anyway, though. I love that you broke this down… it’s gonna help travelers so much!

  5. Kathy

    I have never been on a Subway before. I know they can get really crowded and busy too. I think it would be a nice experience to go on one though. I know NYC is very busy as it is, so this is probably a good option.

  6. Mistee Dawn

    Ya know, I have actually never been on the NYC Subway. But I would definitely give it a try.

  7. Chelley @ A is for Adelaide

    You totally should! NYC SUbway is an experience for sure!

  8. Neely (@Neelykins)

    Ive never had an issue in all the times I have traveled to NYC. The subway system has always worked great for me.

  9. Alicia Taylor

    Wow! 24/7 public transportation options? We did not even have that in Minneapolis or Orlando. I have never been there, so didn’t realize it was like that.

  10. Lisa Favre

    I grew up in a city where the public transportation was highly praised and way advanced for its time. I can say about the same thing about New York City’s subway system. Not necessarily the newest carts but their timing and scheduling works very well and their map is really broad!

  11. Aubrey

    NYC sounds busy…sounds like a train station is what pheonix is in need of! haha

  12. Liz Mays

    I take it when riding with someone who knows it well. Otherwise, I just do the cab thing.

  13. Theresa

    I’d do it with someone who could help me too. I would probably be paranoid of getting lost the first few rides!

  14. Theresa

    I am not big on public transportation simply because I don’t like being up close and personal with strangers. However, when we go to NY, I will take the subway once just for the experience.

  15. Inspiring Kitchen

    I am also not big on transportation and when I need to commute, I usually take the bus. I would try the subway, though when I go to New York City.

  16. acowboyslife

    I LOVE the subway! We don’t really have good mass transit where I live, so when in NYC we take advantage of the subway. Anything that gets us out of cars on vacation is a good thing:)

  17. Jennifer

    I have never been on the NYC subway but I can only imagine how busy it is. I love public transit as a whole, it makes life much easier.

  18. Ann Bacciaglia

    I loved the New York City Subway. I can see how it could be overwhelming to young kids. It is a great way to get around.

  19. Lisa Bristol

    I did not realize the New York City Subway ran 247. I would love to use it to travel around the city. I am hoping to get to New York next year.

  20. Liz Mays

    It’s pretty convenient but super busy. I think it becomes second-nature to New Yorkers.

  21. Autumn

    I’m not good at riding the subway, but it makes me feel legit as a New Yorker when I travel. We don’t have public transportation like this in Dallas!

  22. Sandra Shaffer

    I love taking the subways when traveling! So convenient and reasonably prices. I’ve never taken NYC subways, but I would ride them in a heartbeat!

  23. Crystal

    I love taking the subway when I’m in New York. You’re right about it being an institution. It makes it feel like you’re in New York. With that said, my sister did require stitches after falling in a busy train.

  24. Aimee

    I love the subway as a tourist! Such a great way to see so much and you can buy a pass for so much cheaper than taking taxis.

  25. milenabarrett

    We live by NYC and use the subway all the time. It really is an experience. When we travel to other states I like for my kids to ride their “subway” system so they can compare and experience travel as a local.

  26. maria @ close to home

    I don’t think I ever took subways in NYC. I grew up in Chicago and did all the time.

  27. Mitch

    My biggest pro is the lack of traffic. Not always, but generally it is the fastest way to get around NYC!

  28. Katrina | TOTSFamily.com

    I went to NYC last summer for the first time. I was nervous to take the subway (I live in a farming area) but it was super easy. I missed my stop once or twice but I just stayed on until I got back to where I wanted to go.

  29. Amy Desrosiers

    I can honestly say I am petrified to visit the subway. I hope to never have to go down there because I am claustrophobic.

  30. Annemarie LeBlanc

    I have been to NYC a few times but I did not have the chance to visit the subway or ride the train. I must remember and make time to do so the next time I go there.

  31. Heather Lawrence

    We are going to New York City next month and honestly, I am not sure if I really want to go on the subway. We have a “LRT” here and it goes underground so honestly I think if pass on it then that’s ok. Besides, NYC has a ton of stuff to do!

  32. momknowsbest15

    I enjoyed the subway last time I was in NY. It just took a while to figure it out.

  33. Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    I went to college in NYC. I took the subway all the time. You can’t beat the convenience and ease of using the subway!

  34. Paula h

    I’ve been to NYC but never had the chance to ride the subway! I hear it can be very entertaining and Its on my must do list next time I visit for sure!

  35. April @ illistyle

    I love that you ended on a high note and still showed both sides. And “sanitize or keep your hands to yourself” is my new favorite line. lol

  36. Amanda Love

    Being a New Yorker, I wouldn’t get around any other way. It’s way faster than the bus and even taxi’s.

  37. Chrishelle Ebner

    I am such a country bumpkin. Riding the subway would be like a huge adventure. My girls and I want to make it to NYC and the subway ride will be on our to do list.

  38. Pam

    The Subway is definitely a New York institution. It’s a great way to get around, especially considering how bad traffic is, but it can take some getting used to.

  39. Brandy

    This is great, as I live in a small town I don’t really have the subway decision to make but these are great points!

  40. Val

    Thanks for the lists on whether to take NYC subway or not, interesting information here!

  41. Cindy Ingalls

    The subway is the fastest and easiest mode of transportation in NYC. It can be overwhelming, but it is pretty easy to navigate and if you get lost or aren’t sure where to go, NYers are actually very happy to help you find your way. Just remember to stay to the right when walking up and down the stairs.

  42. Jeanine

    I’ve never been to NYC but I ride the subway here in Toronto, I think if I were to go to NYC I would try to experience the subways there… I think it would for sure be interesting!

  43. Rebecca Bryant

    Riding the subway was part of the adventure for us on our trip to NY. We had a great time.

  44. Amy Jones

    I’ve never been to New York but if I ever do, the NYC Subway is definitely one of my destinys

  45. Bella

    I have been on the NYC subway many times! Although it is very busy – it is a great way to get around and avoid being stuck in traffic.

  46. Bonnie @wemake7

    I’ve never been on a subway before. I think I personally would be scared to but maybe someday I will try.

  47. felicia

    I have definitely used the subway system before and it was a fun yet scary experience. Those doors close soooo fast!

  48. Mary Edwards

    Love your pros and cons list. I remember taking it the first time I was so nervous. Now, I LOVE it..but still won’t take it alone. Not b/c of safety but b/c Im afraid I will get lost. Ha!

  49. Elizabeth O.

    The subway is an easy way to get around the city, without traffic or anything like that. You should expect a lot of people though, since it’s a convenient form of transportation for many. I think it’s nice to ride the subway, if you’re hesitant, make sure you have someone with you.

  50. Debra

    I really like riding the subway. I think that it is part of the experience of being in NYC. Wouldn’t miss it!

  51. Carmela Mempin

    I never been tried riding in a Subway in NYC but I ride on a subway in some other place, at first I felt so nervous on the first time I ride on a subways but on the other part, its a great way to avoid stuck in heavy traffic.

  52. Rebecca Swenor

    New York City is indeed on my bucket list of places in the U.S. to visit. I don’t know if I would have rode the subway with my kids when they were little but I would now because they are men. New York is a place we are going to try to visit this summer and we will check out the subways system too. Thanks for sharing the information.

  53. Karlaroundtheworld | Karla

    I’ve never really thought about the fact that I encounter less cellphone users whenever I’m in an underground subway. But maybe everyone’s either online with an app or something with better signal or if it’s just that they know it already. I haven’t used NYC’s subways yet but I simply just want to as part of the experience of living there.

  54. Seattle Travel Blogger

    My father-in-law swears by the NYC subway in general.
    I know he took my husband on it as when my husband was just a kid, as you mention, for the cool experience value.

  55. Marcie W.

    We have a trip to Philadelphia planned this summer and were considering taking the train into NYC for a day. These subway tips are sure to come in handy!

  56. aziel morte

    I never been in nyc and riding for a subway was a good experience for me

  57. Nicole Escat

    I am so far from NYC but I am afraid to take a subway. I am just not comfortable.

  58. Wendy Polisi

    I’ve never taken a subway in NYC. I did do the Marta train in Atlanta and to be honest, I don’t think I’d do it again.

  59. Courtney Gillard

    I go to subway very frequent. I also make sure that I have someone accompany me.

  60. Lexie Lane

    I am always afraid of taking subway especially when I am alone. I think its a nay!

  61. Stacie @ Divine Lifesytle

    I LOVE riding the subway when I go to NYC. Good or bad, it’s SO New York City. I love it!

  62. Shaylee Field

    I’ve never been to NYC but I really want to go! I would probably ride the subway just to say I did it!

  63. Kelly Hutchinson

    I know it may sound weird, but I have always wanted to ride the NYC subway! I think it would be really fun.

  64. Jeni

    The Subway has some cons for sure but it is definitely something that everyone should witness. From the performers to the overall experience it’s worth it.

  65. Alicia Vanatta

    I have not been to NYC since 2005 but we never went on a subway so I’m not sure how they are. I would think with no vehicle, it’d be a neccessity for work and such.

  66. Angela

    I have never been to NYC but I would take the Subway! I did do the Metro in Washington DC, I think you captured both the good and bad well!

  67. Lisa Thompson

    I’ve taken the subway in NYC, but it was a long time ago. Reading about rats, mice and other rodents makes me never want to take the subway again! YUCK!

  68. CourtneyLynne

    Hehe I have even on the NYC subway before…. Honestly I think it’s probably great for locals, but if you’re just visiting, definitely a pain to deal with if you’re not familiar with it. I usually stick with cabs. Cabs are blonde proof lol

  69. Joyce Brewer (@MommyTalkShow)

    As a native Long Island-er, I love taking the subway whenever I go home. I always double check the maps and ask police officers if I get confused.
    Yes, the subways are particularly nasty at times. But it’s still the best way to get around.

  70. Chrysa Kieke Duran

    The subway has its pros and cons definitely! If you are not sure of the subway it can be intimidating.

  71. alexandria

    I’ve been to NYC a few times, but never wanted to ride the subway. Seemed confusing and yes, a little scary. But I love when celebs ride it to award shows and stuff. So normal!

  72. Whitney S

    When I went to NYC when I was in high school, they told us not to get on the subway hahah. But when I went to Washington DC to go to my husband’s brother’s wedding, we rode the metro. It definitely seems like it could be confusing!

  73. Shannon P

    I say yes! If for nothing else, then just the experience! It’s SUCH a new york thing to do!

  74. Nicole Etolen

    The subway is a little bit scary place, I am not sure about NYC subway. For now, its a no!

  75. Rosey

    I have taken the subway in NYC. I prefer it if I’m going long distances, it’s an easy way to get around. Just don’t miss your stop (which I have done, oy!) or it can be a real time waster too!

  76. Laura Starner

    My friend has spent the last four days riding the subway and going to all of her destinations ion NYC,. Riding the subway was part of he experience for her.

  77. alissa a apel

    That’s all I used when I lived in Atlanta. I say, (YAY). I miss it actually. Here they don’t have one.

  78. rika

    I have never been to NYC. I would definitely visit the NYC subway and try the ride

  79. Marielle Altenor

    I only rode in the NYC subway once, when I was 10 years old. In the movies and the news, there’s always some weird stuff happening in the subway. Where I live (Montreal) the metro station is the most popular way people travel around. If I do visit NY soon, I’d totally ride the subway again.

  80. Melisa Bartlett Dodrill

    I love the concept of the subway, but it was always so crowded that I preferred a car service.

  81. She Joh

    I’ve never been on the New York subway but to someone who has never been on it I can imagine it’s overwhelming but an iconic experience. Thanks for sharing!

  82. Reesa Lewandowski

    After living in the tri state area for 34 years, I have NEVER liked the subway or understood how to get anywhere LOL.

  83. Brianna George

    It really is an experience in itself. I say a MUST DO in NYC!

  84. Amanda McMahon

    I love hearing new travel tips. I’ve taken the subway and I’ve taken even trains in India… but I am afraid to do local night trains!

  85. Beeb Ashcroft

    I have never taken the subway before. I would like to think it would be a great adventure in culture and people watching in theory. I guess I will never know until I try for myself. Great tips.

  86. Paula

    I love the subway and try to make a point of taking public transportation whenever I travel. I like to make sure I have completely mapped out my travel on the subway before getting on a train, that way I’m not panicked and curious if I’ve missed a stop.

  87. Jasmine Watts

    I LOVE the subway! I have never been on the NYC subway but I can imagine how busy it is.

  88. Kathy Kenny Ngo

    I would definitely go ahead and give it a try. The subway is a huge thing for a lot of people and if I get to visit, then yes I will brave all the negative to try this out.

  89. Ashley

    While it is definitely an awesome option for transportation, I’m really glad I don’t have to rely on it where I live. Too many people in a small space, for me!

  90. Mardene Carr

    When I think of NY subway the only thing that comes to mind is huge rats and lots of them. Nay..nay..nay and a thousand times nay

  91. Ana De Jesus

    It reminds me of the tube in England, except probably worse. I use the tube because I have to but it is a great mode of transport which I imagine the subway is too.

  92. Anosa

    Though never rode the NYC subway I do prefer subways than other forms of transportation in busy bustling cities

  93. Adrienne

    I’ve been on the NY subway many times so I say “yay”. It can definitely be a little scary at times, though.

  94. chasing joy

    I recently spent the day in NYC. The subway was so overwhelming. I was glad I was with someone who could navigate it. It was super efficient though and we never had to wait long for the trains.

  95. Mhaan Arambulo (@momyrockinstyle)

    NYC looks like a great place to visit with the family. I wish we could go there someday.

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