Student survival guide
Learn how to make the most of NYC.
Mon Aug 3 2009
Despite its imperfections, the subway is the fastest way to travel in the city. Free maps of the subway system are available at all subway token booths (and on the other side of this guide). Traditional tokens are history; a bright yellow magnetic fare card (the MetroCard) is what you must purchase to ride all public buses and subways. Use this card, and you can transfer from bus to bus, subway to bus, or bus to subway for free. When you purchase a MetroCard for $10 or more, you get at least one free-ride bonus added to the value of the card. Seven- and 30-day unlimited-use passes are available for $24 and $76, respectively. One-day unlimited “fun passes” are available for $7 at stations with MetroCard machines.
For groups of three or four, traveling by taxi can actually be cheaper than takingthe bus or train. Never assume that the driver knows the best route—but know that it is your right to request it. Fares begin at $2.50 and go up 40¢ for every 1/5 mile. A standard tip is usually to round up to the dollar for low fares or add 15 percent. Trips from JFK International Airport to Manhattan are a flat fare of $45 plus tolls and tip. There is no set fare from Manhattan to JFK. If you leave something behind in a cab, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (212-302-8294 or 212-221-8294 Mon-Fri, 9am–5pm) recommends calling 212-NYC-TAXI to make a report. We urge you to take a receipt,since the medallion number listed on it will help them track the driver down. Lost items are usually dropped off at the 17th Precinct or the Central Park Precinct.
Buses are the best way to travel crosstown—and a fun way to travel up or downtown, as long as you’re not in too much of a hurry. Copies of the bus maps for the five boroughs can sometimes be obtained from subway attendants, or by writing to: New York Transit Authority Customer Service, 370 Jay St, seventh floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201. You can also look up bus routes on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s website.
MTA passenger information
MTA status and information hotline
MTA subway and bus lost and found
212-712-4500 (know the line or route you were on and the time of travel)
Long Island Railroad travel information
Metro-North Railroad travel information
What to do if you’re…
If you are arrested for a minor violation (disorderly conduct, harassment, loitering, rowdy partying, etc.) and you’re very polite to the officer during the arrest (and are carrying proper ID), you’ll get fingerprinted and photographed at the station and be given a precinct desk-appearance ticket with a date to show up at criminal court. Then you get to go home.
Arguing with a police officer or engaging in something more serious than jaywalking (possession of a weapon, drunken driving, gambling or prostitution, for example) might get you “processed.” In that case, expect to embark on a 24-to-30-hour journey through the system.
If the courts are backed up (and they usually are), you’ll be held temporarily at a precinct pen. You can make a phone call after you’ve been fingerprinted. After you’ve been through central booking, you’ll arrive at 100 Centre Street. Arraignment occurs in one of two AR (arraignment courtroom) units, where a judge decides whether you should be released on bail and then sets a court date. If you can’t post bail, you’ll be held at Rikers Island. Unless a major crime has been committed, a bail bondsman is unnecessary. The bottom line: Try not to get arrested; and if you are, don’t act like a jerk.
If you’ve been burglarized, don’t touch anything. Reportthe incident immediately to the police; they’ll help you make a list of stolen items and note the points of entry. To protect your belongings, Allstate and Nationwide offer rental insurance policies that cover personal property loss due to theft or fire. In Manhattan, Allstate’s plans start at $230 per year for coverage up to $28,000; Nationwide sells a $20,000 plan for $176 per year (buildings over seven stories are considered fire resistant, so the price drops to about $161). Other premiums vary depending on where you live: They are generally more for Brooklyn, less for upstate regions and doorman buildings. Most companies will not insure unrelated people under one policy.
Before coming above ground out of a subway, know that there is always a local neighborhood map on the wall of the station. Locate it, or ask a booth attendant to point it out, and use it to help you find your way.
Also, before attempting to find an address—especially if you’re walking or taking a cab—you should find out the cross street. For example, if you want to find Time Out New York’s offices but only know that the address is 475 Tenth Avenue, you could be wandering up and down the avenue all afternoon. But if you know that it’s between 36th and 37th Streets, you’ll make it here in no time. For help locating an address on a street, rather thananavenue, knowing what avenues the address is situated between is also helpful. Here’s a quick guide:
•Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between East and West (E 45th St as opposed to W 45th St, for example).
•The order of avenues, below 59th Street and going from west to east, is: Twelfth, Eleventh, Tenth, Ninth, Eighth, Seventh, Sixth, Fifth, Madison, Park, Lexington, Third, Second, First (Broadway runs diagonally, always falling somewhere between Fifth and Eighth Aves).
•If you don’t know the cross avenues but you know the address is on the west side, there’s a formula for figuring it out:
0–99 block: between Fifth and Sixth Aves
100 block: between Sixth and Seventh Aves
200 block: between Seventh and Eighth Aves
300 block: between Eighth and Ninth Aves
400 block: between Ninth and Tenth Aves
500 block: between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
•To find your way along the West Side waterfront to one of the many piersthat host concerts, outdoor summer movies, special events and more, remember this rule of thumb: subtract 40 from the pier number and you’ll know what street it’s at. For example, Pier 80 is at 40th Street and the Hudson River, while Pier 63 is at 23rd Street.
Have other issues
The magic number for anything city related is 311. So whether you can’t find your car and think it’s been towed, are annoyed by an outrageously loud noise or concerned about a possible building-code violation, dialing these digits is the way to go. You’ll get hooked up with an operator who will in turn connect you with the appropriate agency, and point you in the right direction if the offices are closed.
Seats for a song
Rush tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway shows can sell for as little as $5 apiece. Go to the box office of the theater on the day of the performance (most open at noon) and wait in line. Some sell rush tickets early, others an hour before curtain. Many shows also offer discounted rates for students and seniors.
Discount tickets are available for same-day performances through the Theatre Development Fund/TKTS, whose temporary location is outside the New York Marriott Marquis hotel on West 46th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Its hours are Mon–Sat 3–8pm; Wed, Sat 10am–2pm (for matinee tickets); Sun 11am–7pm. Cash and traveler’s checks only. Don’t assume that your chosen show will be available; it’s best to arrive with a few alternatives in mind. You can also visit TDF’s lower Manhattan booth at South Street Seaport, located at the northwest corner of Front and John Streets. Hours are Mon–Sat 11am–6pm; Sun 11am–4pm. At the Seaport TKTS booth, matinee tickets are sold the day before the performance only. Check to see if you qualify for TDF’s Mailing List Program. You could get tickets to Broadway shows for as little as $28 apiece; students, teachers, retirees and theater professionals are among those eligible. Visit tdf.org or call 212-768-1818.
Discount codes—which can be used when purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster—can be found at broadwaybox.com. This useful site provides links and phone numbers that will help you purchase Broadway and Off Broadway tickets for up to 50 percentoff.
Half-price tickets can also be purchased at box offices by presenting Hit Show Club vouchers, available at the club’s office, 630 Ninth Avenue at 44th Street, eighth floor; call 212-581-4211 or visit hitshowclub.com. Coupons for discount tickets are also available through Broadway Bucks. Go to the box office at 226 West 47th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, tenth floor; call 800-223-7565, ext 214; or simply visit bestofbroadway.com.
Students ages 13 to 18 can purchase $5 tickets to many Off and Off-Off Broadway productions through High 5 Tickets to the Arts. All tickets are $5 apiece for teens. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit high5tix.org.
Librarians, teachers and students can pick up vouchers for 30 to 50 percent off at the School Theater Ticket Program, 1560 Broadway between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, suite 1113 (Mon–Fri 11am–4pm). For more information, call 212-354-4722 or visit schooltix.com.
Being a broke student is never easy but these two student discount cards make it a bit easier.
The Student Advantage Card allows you to make myriad purchases—new jeans at Urban Outfitters, meals at a slew of local eateries, Greyhound or Amtrak tickets to go home for the holidays—all at hefty discounts. Visit studentadvantage.com for a full list of how you’ll save, and for details on how to get that piece of plastic into your wallet right away.
Find similar deals with the International Student Identity Card, which gets you big discounts on museum admissions, restaurants and travel services, worldwide. Get in free to local museums and attractions like the Bronx Zoo and up to 20 percent off of hotel and hostel rooms when you travel. For details on how to receive the card and where to useit, visit istc.org.