Is there Public Transportation in New York City? (What you should know)

New york city skyline with Empire State Building, View from the Rockefeller Center viewing platform ‘Top of the Rock’

Being one of the biggest cities in the United States of America, New York City needs no introduction. Given its size and population of over eight million inhabitants, it is probably unnecessary to say that the place absolutely needs several modes of transportation available to its citizens and tourists. This article seeks to explain what these modes of transport are and how you can find them in the Big Apple.

New York City provides a great number of ways to travel throughout the area such as by bus or subway. There are also more recreational modes of transport available for tourists such as by ferry. Most of these modes of transportation require a good deal of monetary compensation, so keep that in mind.

As you can see there are many modes of public transportation in New York City. Each of these options has its own benefits. Read on to learn more about these different modes of transportation so you can figure out the best way for you to get around the city.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

The New York City MTA is a great service to get around the city. The MTA is a 24-hour bus service that stops by every 5-15 minutes. This is convenient for both the day and the nighttime crowd in New York City. Therefore, no matter what you will have a ride to get around the city.

All of the MTA buses are equipped with aids for those who are visual or hearing impaired. They all also come with wheelchair ramps so it is accessible to every person in New York City.

The best way to pay for the MTA is with a MetroCard. They can be purchased at one of the many subway stations in New York City. You are required to have $5.50 on your card at all times, but then from there, you can purchase tickets for the price of $2.75 for a regular bus or $6.75 if you are riding on one of the express busses that go through. To buy your first MetroCard the card itself will cost you $1. If you only want to ride one time, though, you can buy a one-time use card for $3. The most cost-efficient version, though, is the MetroCard.

If you live in New York City there are some multiple-use cards that give you unlimited rides for a base cost. For instance, there is a weekly version that costs you only $33. There is also a month-long option that costs you $127. Both of these are much more cost-efficient if you plan on using the bus system multiple times. These cards also work on the subway system that runs under New York City.


View from platform of red high speed subway train station behind closed doors

If you have a more urgent schedule to follow and do not care to see the more visually appealing parts of the city, then taking the subway is also an option. Taking the subway is one of the best ways to feel more like a local in New York. The entrances to the subway stations are not difficult to find, either. If you are walking just about anywhere in the city, you will likely come across several signs pointing you in the direction of the stairways that lead below the sidewalks and into the underground.

I am sure that if you have never actually ridden on the subways of the New York City underground, you have likely seen what the interior of these trains and the stations they stop at look like from watching basically any movie that takes place in this city — and of course, there are a lot of them. There are a variety of things to be found here — while most of them are not the prettiest or cleanest sights to behold. With that being said, be sure to keep your hands to yourself and not touch anything unfamiliar to you while making your way to the train. If you need to know which train to take, there should be maps and displays along the walls that tell you where you are and where the other stations are in relation to your current location.

If you plan to use the subway, the best way is to get a MetroCard. These cards allow you to carry all of the bus fares and subway fares you will need on a single piece of plastic. You can purchase one of these cards basically at any subway station for just one dollar. You will also need to transfer a minimum amount of five dollars and fifty cents onto the card before you can begin using it. Each time you use the card to travel by subway or take a single trip by bus, it will take two dollars and seventy-five cents out of the balance on your card while an Express Bus ride will cost six dollars and seventy-five cents.

The Roosevelt Island Tram

Another really fun option is the Rosevelt Island Tram. The Rosevelt Island Tram gives you an aerial view of the city, which is super fun for the family and a great way to get a good look at the city for tourists. The Rosevelt Island Tram also runs off of the MetroCard, which is very convenient for all citizens of New York City.

The Rosevelt Island Tram runs from 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. This gives you a large amount of mobility for one ride.

The Rosevelt Island Tram unlike the city busses or subways does not run non-stop. There is less of a need and therefore they cannot profit off of running all the time. The hours of the Rosevelt Island Tram are Sunday through Thursday from 6:00 am–2:00 am, and Friday through Saturday from 6:00 am–3:30 am.

One of the great things about the Rosevelt Island Tram is that if you want to ride it just for fun with your family you can take three children on the Roosevelt Island Tram per paying adult for free. This means you can save a little extra cost per ride.

Citi Bike

Are there not enough hours in the day for exercise? Do you enjoy transport that involves getting time in the sun for some vitamin D? If you said yes to the questions above then riding a bike around the city of New York might be a great option for you.

There are many concerns about riding around on a bike in New York City. Some people are concerned with how much slower bikes are than electronic transportation. Research has shown, though, that bike is the fastest way to get somewhere in New York City during rush hour. Bikes are even faster than taxis.

Other people worry about the safety of riding a bike in New York City. Researchers have found that if you are wearing a helmet and have the proper reflective gear on then you should be able to bike around New York City with minimal risk. Biking also provides such good health benefits that it will more likely prolong your life than risk it.

Overall, biking is one of the best ways to get around the busy city. The city has maps and paths created specificity for bikers and you are allowed and encouraged to bike anywhere in the city to help with the environment and cut down on traffic.

New York City pushing forth their biking has several bike rental options. The most affordable transportation service, though, is Citi Bike. Citi Bike owns 24,000 bikes at some 1,500 stations, available 24/7 every day of the year. Their stations are placed all around the city. The way to use Citi Bike is through a subscription. Citi Bike offers day passes, trip passes, and annual passes. A one-time trip pass from one location to the next will cost you $3.99, the day pass will cost you $15 and the annual pass is $185. Therefore, Citi Bike is a great affordable option to get around the city.

New York City also is equipped with a whole bunch of tour bike rides. This will give you a better view of the city. A great tour bike group is Bike and Roll. They offer tours all around the city covering the many attractions in New York City. Their tours range from $45-$125 per person based on the duration of the tour. Therefore, if you are just wanting to go around and see the city Bike and Roll might be a good fit for you.


Ferry connecting New York City, Liberty and Ellis Islands and Jersey City – USA

The Staten Island Ferry is a company that has been operating in the waters surrounding New York almost since the beginning of the twentieth century. It provides a gorgeous scenic route for all of its passengers for the amazing price of zero dollars and zero cents. That is right; there is absolutely no charge.

Now, the ferries that cost around the same amount that a typical bus ride would charge are called the NYC Ferry and the NY Waterway. These ferries are used for more transportive services than the Staten Island Ferry, which is used primarily as a tourist attraction. Therefore, if you have more of a destination in mind then the NYC Ferry and the NY Waterway might work best, but they are still rather cheap. A single-ride ticket will cost you $2.25. This means this is still an affordable mode of transportation.

Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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