Oct 8 2009, 9:21pm
Post #51 of 51
Main MTA site.
Some random useful (and some silly) subway info.
[In reply to]
I hope people aren't afraid of using the subways based on horror stories from decades ago. Overall they're safe and -- if not what I'd call "clean," certainly clean enough. Signage is generally clear, and announcements have gotten a lot clearer too.
There's a lot more art in the subways too -- I hope you take a moment to enjoy it! My favorite is this one.
It makes different sorts of chirping noises. Even if no one else is doing it, I like to wave my hands in front of the thing, and I don't care how silly I look.
They've greatly improved the clarity of announcements, and some of the trains have nice clear pre-recorded station announcements. On the ones with live announcers, enjoy the different accents, though I think it's still mostly native NY'ers. "Please stan' clear uh duh closin' daws."
Unfortunately there are still some trains where the announcements sound like "whaarrrgaarrble," and you may want to ask someone "Is this the local or express?" or whatever. It may be stating the obvious, but the best way to do this is to address a specific person (after checking that they're not wearing headphones). Sometimes people just shout their question at the car in general, and no one answers because everyone is waiting for someone else to answer.
There is fare information here.
In my experience, it is usually not worth it to buy an "unlimited ride" card, partly because the regular MetroCards already have a 15% bonus, and partly because I rarely make as many trips as I originally intended. Especially if you're going to museums or something, it's easy to plan to make a lot of different stops, and then spend longer than you expected at the first one(s), and then you don't get much use out of your MetroCard. Maybe you guys are better at staying on schedule though.
If you buy the regular (pay-per-ride) MetroCard, you'll probably wind up with an odd amount of money on it. That 15% bonus will mess you up when you're trying to figure out how much to add to get back up to an even fare amount, and next thing you know you've got the value of pi on your card and you throw it out in disgust. That's what the MTA is hoping you'll do, which I think is pretty shady. So instead use this MetroCard Calculator which will tell you the right amount to add to get back on track. Easy! I still miss tokens though.
Don't feel embarrassed if you have trouble swiping your MetroCard at the right speed for it to take the fare. Most people do; I think the machines are just glitchy.
Occasionally there's a slight burning rubber smell on the trains. I don't know what it is, but it's normal.
Unlikely, but if you're on a train and there's a sudden high-pitched alarm sound, it probably just means that the cover for the emergency brake thingy is loose and opened by itself. Look for a small silver box up near the ceiling at one end of the car, and hit it with your fist to close it.
Notice how the different subway lines have different model cars, some dating back to the 1960's. On rare occasions, the MTA tries out a new car model they're thinking of buying from another country. Also on rare occasions they take a car from the 1940's or so out of storage and run it for a day, as a joke. They don't announce these in advance; they like to surprise people. So it's extremely unlikely, but there's a remote chance you'll get to see a futuristic or antique car, and everyone else on the platform will be just as surprised as you to see it come in.
Photography in the subway is legal. The official rule is "Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted except that ancillary equipment such as lights, reflectors or tripods may not be used." Oddly, police officers seem to have a persistent amnesia about this and often think that photography in the subways is illegal. Periodically someone gets in trouble for photographing in the subway, they sue over it, and the supervisors supposedly remind all the cops that photography in the subway is legal. Then somehow they all forget it again the next day.
If a cop hassles you about taking photos in the subway, you might want to gently remind him/her that it's legal. But of course if the cop seems to be on a power trip and acts threatening, you're probably best off putting your camera away, but make note of his/her badge number and please file a complaint if you have time.
In the (unlikely) event a cop gets totally out of line, the National Lawyers Guild NYC chapter has an emergency number: (212) 679-6018. They can help you document any unlawful police activity.
At some stations you can walk back and forth between the uptown and downtown sides, and at others you can't. You can't tell which is which from the map. If you accidentally get on a train going the wrong way, don't exit and pay another fare to re-enter; there's probably a nearby station that lets you cross over. Express stops are a good bet.
Avoid riding the subways during rush hour if possible. The crowding is just ridiculous.
If the above is interesting, you might want to check out the Transit Museum, and you can see how they built most of this stuff with hand-tools and horses.
Hope the above is useful. I'm sure I'll remember something else as soon as I hit "Post."
"I deemed it the worst part of all my journey, the road back, watching him day and night, making him walk before me with a halter on his neck, gagged, until he was tamed by lack of drink and food, driving him ever towards Mirkwood."
(This post was edited by Smeagirl/Girllum on Oct 8 2009, 9:25pm)