How Can You Find Your Way Through the NYC Subway System?


Quick Answer

To find your way through the New York City subway system, look for a map of the transit network in any subway station, on the trains, or online on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority website. The MTA website also has a Trip Planner function that allows you to put in your desired starting and ending locations and suggests the best routes to take.

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Full Answer

As of 2015, the New York City subway system has 29 different subway lines, each designated by a letter or number. Subway lines that overlap for part or all of their routes are grouped together into different colors. For example, the number 1, 2 and 3 trains are all red on subway maps, while the A, C and E trains are blue.

Many routes require passengers to transfer, taking one train part of the way and switching to another train to complete the journey. Local trains stop at every stop, while express trains "skip" stops and stop only at certain stations. On the maps, stations where you can transfer from one train line to another train line, or from an express train to a local train, are indicated with white circles. Stations that are not transfer stations are indicated with black circles.

If a train line ends in a different borough, it can be a "Queens-bound," "Bronx-bound," "Brooklyn-bound" or "Manhattan-bound" train. For trains within Manhattan, "uptown" and "downtown" are the designations for northbound and southbound trains, respectively. Some subway stations allow you to transfer between the same train line in different directions. Other stations require you to leave the station and cross the street to take the train in the opposite direction.

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