NYC Guide: Transportation in The City

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February 28, 2020
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NYC is wonderful for many reasons, and the plethora of ways to get around this city certainly make it stand out compared to the rest of the United States.

New York City has so many transportation options. The crown jewel of course being the 24 hours subway system, the only one of a kind in the world. But the subway isn’t for everyone. You might prefer riding the bus, biking, or hailing a yellow cab. This is why websites like Localize.City keep constantly monitoring and analyzing all the best transportation methods around your home.

The Metrocard is out, the OMNY is in.

Find apartments close to your subway

Before you find an apartment online you need to factor in how you want to commute. For most New Yorkers, 71% actually, when they search for a home on Localize.City they check the commute distance based on public transit. For most people that means taking the subway or bus to work.

When the just subway started, the fare was just 5 cents (compared to $2.75 today). That meant you could just pay for it with a nickel. Then it went up to 10 cents and you could use a dime. But in 1953, the same year President Eisenhower was inaugurated, the subway fare jumped to 15 cents. There was no 15 cent coin. So the city introduced the token. Fun fact, if the subway fare was tied to inflation, it wouldn’t only cost $1.45, based on the price when the token was introduced.

For decades New Yorkers hoarded tokens, some of which were very beautiful, and jangled their pockets to start their commute. Then in 1994 NYC implemented the beloved MetroCard, essentially a debit card of tokens.

It also allowed straphangers to purchase monthly, and at times weekly, passes. While the current fair is $2.75, a seven-day pass goes for $33 and a monthly pass goes for $127. The seven-day pass doesn’t quite make sense for commuters who take two rides a day, five days a week, but is a great deal for tourists who are taking many rides over a week.

The monthly, however, is a great deal for commuters and many companies offer benefits where your MetroCard costs are pulled from your salary pre-tax to save you money. Money that you can use to pay rent once you find an apartment.

But the era of the MetroCard will soon come to a close. OMNY will now replace the MetroCard. Out with the swipe, in with the tap. Now we’ll even be able to use our cell phones to pay for our fares. The city hasn’t rolled out monthly or weekly passes for the OMNY system yet, but they plan on doing so before the swipe cards are fully phased out. It’s an exciting time for commuters in New York.

Bus vs. Subway in NYC

Both the bus and the subway have the same fares, but they serve NYC in very different ways. The subway is great for traveling long distances, especially to Manhattan. If you find an apartment in Brooklyn, but your job is in Queens, you better hope that you live near the G train, the only subway line that doesn’t run through Manhattan (the Staten Island rail line doesn’t count).

Busses are way better for trips within a neighborhood. There is the famous new bus-lane on 14th St. that allows you to make crosstown trips quicker than ever before. Manhattan is full of crosstown busses. Most train lines in the Bronx go straight to Manhattan and don’t really traverse the borough, so if you need to go across that borough you’re required to take a bus. Like if you find your perfect apartment for rent in Riverdale, but work at Montefiore Hospital, you have to take the bus there.

Brooklyn and Queens both have robust bus networks in addition to many subway lines, so if your dream apartments for rent are in Bayside or Bay Ridge, you’ll be able to take the bus places you want.

Express Busses?

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In addition to the regular neighborhood busses, New York City operates a fleet of express busses across the city. These serve commuters from areas that don’t have as many subway options, like the Bronx or Staten Island.

The first few stops will pick people up, then they get to business districts in Manhattan and drop people off. You can pay for your fare on these with a MetroCard, but it costs $6.75 each way. These used to be run by private operators, but when some were on the brink of bankruptcy, the MTA took over.

Take the Ferry

In the last few years New York City launched an expansive ferry system to cover corners of the city near water and speed up riders’ commutes. In total there are 9 existing, or planned, ferry routes across the city. It costs $2.75 for each ride, but you can’t use a MetroCard or OMNY and have to get a separate ticket.

Metro-North and LIRR

These are commuter rail trains. For the most part they serve the near suburbs in Westchester and Long Island. But if you find an apartment online in NYC in the Bronx or Queens, it might be a very long subway ride to midtown.

The Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains do have many stops in NYC, in places like Riverdale and Bayside, but also near Yankee Stadium and even in Harlem. They have far fewer stops than the subways and can get you to your office very quickly. These trains do not take MetroCards or OMNY. Instead you need to buy a ticket at the station, or on an app, to use the train.

It’s also very nice because a conductor walks through the car to check your ticket. So if you’re lucky on these short rides they won’t even get to you and you can save your ticket for another time. Prices are dependent on how far you are traveling, but if you take either the Metro-North or LIRR within city limits on weekends, you’ll be able to buy a “City Ticket” for just $4.50 in each direction.

So what is the PATH Train?

You land your dream job, but it’s in Hoboken, and you don’t want to live in New Jersey. What do you do? Go online, search for apartments for rent in Manhattan and commute on the PATH train. The PATH serves nearby parts of New Jersey like Hoboken, Jersey City and Harrison. There are a bunch of Manhattan PATH stops, including near Penn Station, near the World Trade Center, and everywhere in between.

Chelsea, FiDi, or the West Village are all great neighborhoods to search for apartments for rent in Manhattan if you need to take the PATH train to New Jersey. It costs $2.75 a ride, and you can use a MetroCard to take the PATH, but your NYC monthly MetroCard will not work and you need to pay per ride.

And Citi Bike?

If you care about biking to work, Localize.City can show you apartments for rent in Manhattan, or across NYC, that are good for cyclists. Things like how many bike lanes there are, how safe are the streets for cyclists, and how far are you from a Citi Bike dock. Citi Bike has many pricing options, including a single 30-minute ride for $3, a day pass with unlimited 30-minute rides over the course of 24 hours for $12, and a year membership, with unlimited 45-minute rides for $169. 

Is it cheaper to take a taxi or an Uber in NYC?

how to find an apartment near the subway

For many trips, either crosstown in Manhattan, longer trips on the weekends when some subway lines are shut down for construction, or to and from the airport, it makes sense to take a car. Many New Yorkers own cars, and if you can move it once or twice a week for alternate-side parking, street parking is free.

But if you are a tourist, an environmentalist, or just don’t own a car you’ll need to pay to get around. So the big question arises, is it cheaper to take a taxi or Uber in NYC?

Well there isn’t a simple answer. Sometimes the taxi is cheaper, sometimes the Uber is cheaper. It all depends on surge pricing. In The Bronx and Queens and some parts of Brooklyn it’s frequently very hard to get a taxi. In those neighborhoods you’ll almost always call an Uber.

In much of Manhattan if you wait on a major avenue you can get a yellow cab quicker than an Uber. If there’s no surge pricing and traffic moves quickly the Uber is cheaper. But if it is raining, or a busy weekend night, the Uber may be more expensive. It comes down to what is faster and what you find most comfortable to use.

Popular neighborhoods like Murray Hill, Williamsburg, and Hell’s Kitchen have many homes far from the subway, so if you find an apartment in NYC in these places, there’s a good chance you’ll spend lots of money on cabs or Ubers.


NYC is full of great sidewalks, and when the weather is nice you can walk places. It’s absolutely free, and good for your health. When you find an apartment online, you can almost be sure there will be sidewalks to walk on, or nearby parks to walk through.

What does this mean for you?

So wherever you find an apartment for rent in NYC, or even a house to buy, you’ll have many options for how to get around New York, at varying costs.

Loved this article? Comment below. We are proud to be on of the leading real estate blogs in NYC and would love to hear your feedback.

Learn more about the transportation around your home on Localize.City

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