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How to Ride the Subway

Welcome Tourists and Visitors

Planning a trip to New York?  Welcome! With a MetroCard farecard in hand, we'll help you acquaint yourself with the subways and buses so you can get around town like a New Yorker.  Read through this 'How to Ride' page first. Then visit our MetroCard City pages for airport information, sightseeing tips, and more so you can make the most of your trip and enjoy your stay in New York.

Riding Safely

Subway fare is $2.75*, payable with MetroCard. People 65 years or older and people with qualifying disabilities who show a proper form of identification (including Reduced-Fare MetroCard or a Medicare card) are eligible for reduced fare.

* The cost of a SingleRide ticket is $3.00. Sold at vending machines only.

Click here for Reduced-fare information .

People with disabilities who are unable to use subway or local bus service may apply for Access-A-Ride door-to-door paratransit service.

Click here for information about Access-A-Ride/Paratransit.

Photograph of MTA NYC Transit station agent assisting customer
The New York City subway has 472 stations serving 27 subway lines - more than any other system in the world. Routes are identified by letters, such as A line icon B line icon C line icon or numbers, such as 1line icon 2 line icon 3 line iconetc. These routes serve Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The Staten Island Railway (SIR) serves Staten Island.  Ask for a free subway map  at subway station booths, or view it online.

Click here for Maps

Across-the-platform transfers and connections

Many subway stations let you cross the platform to change from one route to another.  However, at times trains leave before customers can make the connection.

This usually happens during rush (peak) hours when the subway is busiest and trains run more frequently. If a train doesn’t proceed it can affect the schedule, backing up trains behind it and slowing service all along the line.

During off-peak hours, when the subway is less crowded, conductors can hold trains that enter the same station at the same time, and passengers can transfer across the platform.  Subway personnel can do this as long as both trains are on schedule and waiting will not disrupt either train’s schedule.

Getting Information in the Station

Photo of station entrance sign
As you enter the station, look for the sign (usually above the stairs) that tells you when the entrance is open, and if a station agent is available at the booth. Although the subway operates 24 hours a day, not all station entrances are accessible at all times or have full-time agents.


Photo of customer information center bulletin board
There is a Customer Information Center bulletin board near the main booth in every station. You'll find a subway map, train schedules, and information about changes in service due to construction or other work to improve and maintain the system. Station agents can give you directions and a free subway map.

Going through the Turnstiles

Animation of customers swiping through the turnstile
Swipe your MetroCard through the slot in the top of the turnstile. Walk through when the turnstile screen says "GO." Customers who use wheelchairs may pay their fare by alerting the station agent that they are about to enter the system. The customer can then pay their fare by swiping their MetroCard at a turnstile, and rotating the turnstile arm. The station agent will open the special service entry gate.

Many accessible subway stations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn are equipped with AutoGate, an automatic entry/exit gate that allows customers who have ambulatory disabilities, are accompanied by a service animal, or use wheelchairs to enter and exit the subway system. You need a Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard to enter or exit the subway system through the AutoGate.

Waiting for Your Train

Photo of subway sign for Downtown & Brooklyn B and C trains

Follow the signs for the subway route you want to take. At the platform edge you'll find signs that tell which trains stop there and the direction the trains are going, such as Uptown (northbound), Downtown (southbound), or Brooklyn-bound.

In general, trains run every 2 to 10 minutes during rush hours (approximately 6:30 - 9:30 a.m., and approximately 3:30 - 8 p.m., Monday through Friday), every 5 to 10 minutes during the midday (approximately 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday), every 5 to 12 minutes in the evening (approximately 8 p.m. - midnight), and about every 20 minutes during the late night hours between approximately midnight and 6:30 a.m. Some intervals between trains may be different, depending upon the line, the time of day, the direction of service, and/or on weekends; consult subway timetables for more detailed information by individual subway line or use Trip Planner+, our online travel tool.

Platform Edge Safety

Please click on the following safety message to learn more about platform edge safety.

Safety on Platforms

Click here to watch a video about platform safety.

Stuff happens. If you drop something, leave it!

Help Point intercom
Be aware of your surroundings. See someone at risk? Get help.

Be Safe. Be Smart. Stand Back.

Waiting for Your Train during Non-rush Hours

If you're traveling when it's not rush hour, especially at midday or at night, we suggest you wait in the Off-Hour Waiting Area. A yellow sign, usually suspended from the ceiling, identifies them. When you're in one of these areas, a station agent will be able to see you.

During non-rush hours, many trains have fewer cars. Look for black and yellow signs telling you where to wait on the platform.

Most subway lines have a two-person crew – a train operator and a conductor.  One-Person Train Operation (OPTO) controls six routes at various hours.  For example, OPTO runs on the Franklin Shuttle and the Rockaway Shuttle at all times; on the G and M lines weekends only; and on the Lefferts Shuttle and the Dyre Av Shuttle during weekdays, Late Nights.  

Many of our stations have electronic annunciator signs that tell you when a train is coming. The sign is usually located near the Off-Hour Waiting Area, and also indicates if the train is traveling "uptown" or "downtown". You will hear a repetitive beeping sound to alert you that a train is about to arrive.

Boarding the Right Train

Photo of the side of a train displaying C train route and letter

The front and side of every train displays the route number or letter. In many instances, more than one train route stops at particular stations so you'll want to be sure to read the route number before you get on.

Keep in mind that a local train makes every stop while an express train skips some stops. Subway maps indicate express and local stops.

Step aside and board the train only after the people who want to get off have exited. Be careful of the gap between the platform and the train. Never try to hold closing doors open.

For Your Safety

If you do not get a seat, hold onto a railing. Please don't lean against the doors. When you ride during non-rush hours, we suggest you ride in the car with the conductor. The conductor's car is usually in the middle of the train. You can also ride in the first car with the train operator. During certain times, trains are operated by one person. Click here to find out more about OPTO (One-Person Train Operation).

Click here for Bicycle Safety in the Subway

Knowing When to Get Off

Conductors make announcements so you'll know the next stop along the line. To be sure you're traveling in the right direction, check the subway map. Every subway car usually has two maps posted in it on either side of the car. The newest subway cars have strip maps that show stops along the line, a digital readout of the upcoming stop, and a mechanical voice that announces the current and next station.

In Case of Emergency

Animation of staffed station booth and agent with radio
Alert the train crew if you are on board, or go to staffed station booth, where agents have radios or phones to contact emergency medical services and the police. In some stations, station agents as well as other NYC Transit employees or the police may be available in different parts of the station.

You can also go to the train's first car (where the train operator is) or the middle car (where the conductor is usually located). Our train crews have radios that they can use to call for help. During certain times, trains are operated by one person. Click here to find out more about OPTO (One-Person Train Operation) .

Evacuations aren't often necessary. New York City Transit provides more than four and a half million subway rides each weekday and rarely has to evacuate a car. But to help ensure your safety, all on-board subway personnel receive training for emergencies on a regular basis.

Note for Customers who use Wheelchairs
Some emergencies require that stretchers be used to help customers in wheelchairs leave the train. When this happens, wheelchairs are removed separately and returned to the owners as soon as possible.

Click here
to learn how to evacuate a train in the event of an emergency (decals, diagrams and tips).

Click here to view Customer Safety - Train Evacuation Video.


Photo of passengers on subway Whatever the emergency, MTA New York City Transit personnel are there to keep you informed and assist you.


Photos of subway control center, passengers, and conductor


Travel Information

Photo of customer service phone agent


Plan your trip using TripPlanner+ or call 511, 24 hours/seven days a week. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay.



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