Navigate the subway like a pro
Swipe your MetroCard with superiority, thanks to these tunnel-expert tips.
Tue Jan 18 2011
Photograph: Jolie Ruben
Which door is closest to your exit?
If your commute is so early (or your ride home so late) that you can't remember which end of the train is uptown or easternmost, Exit Strategy NYC (exitstrategynyc.com) is one app that can do the thinking for you. For $3.99, it tells you the exact subway car and the door nearest to the exit at your destination. The app includes zoomable subway maps for every line and station, Manhattan street maps with address ranges and bus maps for all five boroughs. Plus, it doesn't require an Internet connection, so it always works underground.
What cars tend to be emptier, and what's the best way to score a seat?
Know the flow of ridership patterns and locations. Benjamin Kabak is the blogger behind Second Avenue Sagas (secondavenuesagas.com), which has tracked the progress of the Second Avenue subway and other transit news since 2006. He explains that because of the way entrances are staggered, back cars are less full. To get a seat, try to board at a major transfer point, where people tend to exit en masse. David Holland, who runs Transit Blogger (transitblogger.com), recommends looking for wear and tear on the edges of platforms, near the tracks—this allows you to guess where the doors will open, so you can swoop in quickly and grab a seat. "There are certain spots that will stand out, because [the doors on] each train open in practically the same spot every time," he explains. "The repeated foot traffic will eventually leave marks."And if all else fails? "Start coughing," suggests comedian Tom Sibley, the guy behind Subway Douchery (subwaydouchery.com). "It makes people nervous. They'll be too worried about getting whatever disease they are certain you have to grab the empty seat."
Will I ever be able to recycle my MetroCard?
The MTA is finally encouraging reuse. In the second half of 2011, the agency will introduce a $1 surcharge with each new MetroCard. Maybe now you won't be so inclined to throw them on the floor.
Which trains come the most often?
Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign says the 6 and 7 trains run the most frequently during rush hour, arriving on average every two-and-a-half minutes. For a better chance of catching a train no matter the time, Kabak recommends walking to a station that offers more than one possible subway connection. "If it's late and I'm trying to get back to, say, Brooklyn from the East Village, it's often better to walk to Broadway-Lafayette to wait for a D or F than it is to sit at Second Ave for 20 minutes waiting for an F to show up."
What should I do if I lose my MetroCard?
When a pay-per-ride card goes MIA, you're out of luck, but if you purchased a 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard or 7-Day Express Bus MetroCard with a credit card or debit card, you have balance protection: As soon as your card is lost or stolen, call the EasyPay Account Service Center at 877-323-7433. If you reach voicemail, leave a message. The MTA will deactivate the card and can send you a replacement in the mail. But don't wait: The MTA reimburses you according to the remaining time it has on record for your card.
When will the next fare hikes begin?
Even though the MTA just raised the rates on December 30, 2010, it's planning another 7.5 percent increase for 2013. For what it's worth, the subway really did cost just a nickel "in olden times." In fact, the fare was just 5 from 1904 until 1948, when it doubled to 10.