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Riding the subway

Updated Sep 1, 2020
Find out about fares, maps, transfers, how to get on the right train, how to get help, and more.

Tips for riding

Masks are required when you ride with us. If you need one, ask at a subway station booth or look for mask dispensers on buses.

Subway service is suspended from 1-5 a.m. while we disinfect trains and stations. We run enhanced bus service during this time.

Download the app before you ride. Use the MYmta app (on iPhone and Android) for trip planning, maps, arrival times, real-time service status, station information, and more.

Waiting for your train

Stand back from the platform edge, especially when trains are entering and leaving the station.

Don’t go onto the tracks for any reason. If you drop something on the tracks, leave it and let an MTA employee know. We’ll do our best to help retrieve it.

Boarding and riding

Let others exit the train before you board. Stand to the side of the doors before you board, not in front of them.

Move to the center of the car (even when it’s crowded). It makes service faster for everyone.

Make room for others. Be aware of the space around you, especially during busy travel times.

Exiting trains and navigating stations

Don’t hold train doors open. It delays service for everyone.

Ask any MTA employee for help when you need it. You can also use the Help Point intercom on station platforms.

Riders Waiting at Subway Platform

A man leans against a column on a subway station platform as two women walk down the stairs to his left. Several signs are visible, including one for trains on the current platform, one for a wheelchair boarding area, and one for an exit and other train lines.
Look for signs that indicate which direction a train is going, where to find other trains and platforms, and where to exit the station.

About subway fares and free transfers

Riding the subway costs $2.75 for most riders. If you’re going to be riding often, an unlimited card might save you money.

We have reduced-fare options for people 65 and older, people with disabilities, and low-income New Yorkers.

How to pay the subway fare

Using a MetroCard

Hold the card so the black magnetic strip is facing you and on the bottom of the card. (The clipped corner should be on the upper right.) Swipe your card through the reader at a medium speed, similar to how you would swipe a credit card in a credit card reader. When the turnstile screen says GO, proceed through the turnstile.

  • Pay for multiple people: Swipe your pay-per-ride card up to four times at the turnstile to pay the fare for each person
  • Swipe it forward: You can use your unlimited card to pay for someone else’s fare at no extra cost, as long as you don’t accept money for the swipe.

Note: You cannot use an unlimited MetroCard within 18 minutes of swiping it.

 

 

Using a digital wallet or contactless card

We’re rolling out OMNY, a contactless fare system, throughout the system.

Tap your contactless card or smart device at the OMNY reader on the turnstile. It doesn’t matter which way the card or device is facing. When the reader shows GO, proceed through the turnstile.

You need to set up your device for contactless payment before you can use it with OMNY.

Learn more about OMNY.

A closeup of someone swiping a MetroCard at a turnstile. The blue and gold MetroCard logo is facing toward the camera and the person swiping it, with the black barcode visible at the bottom.
Swipe your MetroCard with the logo and the black barcode facing you and the clipped corner on the upper right.
A person holds an iPhone up to a small display on a subway turnstile. The display is flashing green and saying Go.
Tap a contactless card or a digital wallet at OMNY readers to pay the fare.

Finding stations and trains

Stations

  • Subway stations are usually on corners of streets. Look for green metal railings near entrances and exits. Many also have green globe lamps.
  • Some stations are in the middle of blocks, near business entrances, incorporated inside buildings, along parks, or otherwise tucked away, so look closely.
  • Black and white signs at the entrance tell you what lines the stop serves and which direction trains go. Some stations have trains that go in both directions. Some only have trains going in one direction.
  • Once you’re inside the station, signs direct you to the platform. All of these signs have arrows showing which way to go.
  • Many stations have booths near the turnstiles. You can ask the station agent for help if you need it.

Trains

  • Each train has a bullet — a colored circle or diamond with a white letter or number inside — that indicates what route the train runs. These are on the front and side of trains.
  • To see what direction a train is going, look for black and white signs on the platform, parallel to the tracks. These have direction indicators, like “uptown,” “downtown,” “Brooklyn-bound,” “Bronx-bound,” etc. Listen for announcements as the train doors open as well.
  • Local trains stop at every stop. Express trains skip stops. Maps show local and express stops, and train announcements will say whether the train is local or express.
  • Ask the train conductor if you have questions. They sit in the middle of the train. To easily find where the conductor will be when the train stops, look for a diagonally striped black and white sign on the platform, parallel to the tracks.

 

A woman with long, dark hair and a backpack walks down the stairs of a subway entrance. "Metropolitan Avenue" and the bullets for the G and the L trains are visible on a sign above the stairway.
A subway station entrance in Brooklyn.
People walk down the stairs in a subway station. A sign reading "Downtown" is visible on the wall on the left, and a sign reading "Downtown & Brooklyn," with bullets for the B and C trains, is visible overhead.
Direction for downtown trains in a Manhattan subway station.

What to do if...

...you lost something

Here are step-by-step instructions for what to do if you lost a personal item on the subway.

If you lost a MetroCard, see our instructions specifically for that.

...you see a crime in progress

Tell an MTA employee or police officer or call 911 immediately.

If you’re in a station, you can also use a Help Point intercom.

Read more about what to do if you see a hate crime.

...you need help planning a trip

Talk to an MTA employee, dial 511, use our trip planner, or download the MYmta app.

...you miss your stop

Stay on the train until you reach a station where you can transfer to a train going in the opposite direction. Take that train back to the stop you missed.

If you need help, ask an MTA employee.

Things you can and can’t bring on the subway

Don’t travel with more than you can carry on your own, and avoid rush hour if you’re transporting something big. Make space for other riders and don’t block doors, stairs, or passageways.

This is not a comprehensive list of what you are and are not allowed to bring on the subway. Find all details in our Rules of Conduct.

You can bring...

Personal mobility devices. Wheelchairs, canes, walkers, scooters and the like are allowed at all times.

Dogs and other animals. They must be in a bag or other container and carried in a way that doesn’t annoy other riders. Service animals and working animals with law enforcement agencies are allowed at all times.

Bikes. Avoid rush hour.

Strollers. Strollers are allowed as long as you’re using them to transport children.

Boxes, packages, and small furniture. Don’t transport large items during rush hour.

 

You can’t bring...

Motorcycles and other motorized vehicles. Personal mobility devices like motorized scooters are allowed, however.

Large wheeled carts. Carts that are larger than 30 inches in length or width are not allowed.

Anything that is so long it sticks out of a subway window or door.

Items that could be a hazard, interfere with MTA operations, or block traffic. Your safety is our biggest priority.

A sign with diagonal black and white stripes hangs above a subway station platform, indicating where the conductor will be when the train stops.
Zebra signs in the middle of platforms indicate where the train conductor will be when the train stops.
A blue sign with the words "Boarding area" and an icon showing a person in a wheelchair. On a different sign on the left is the same icon and an arrow pointing toward elevators.
Riders who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids can follow signs to elevators and boarding areas where they’re most visible to train crews.

Accessible travel

On the subway

Read our guide to navigating trains and stations with mobility aids and other assistive tools.

With Access-A-Ride, our paratransit service

If you have a disability that prevents you from using the subway or bus, you might be eligible for our paratransit service.

About the New York City subway

The New York City subway system has:

  • 22 lines, not counting permanent shuttle service
  • 472 stations
  • More than 665 miles of track. Laid end to end, our tracks would stretch from New York City to Chicago.