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New York City is served by three major airports, three smaller suburban airports, two major train stations and several interstate bus terminals.
John F. Kennedy International (JFK) is New York’s largest airport and the top international air passenger gateway in the United States. Located in the Queen’s borough, it is about 15 miles outside Manhattan, but traffic is often heavy and unpredicable. NYC taxis offer a flat rate to/from Manhattan (current rate is $52.80 plus 20% tip, ignore offers of transportation from solicitors in the terminal). Depending on the traffic and time of day, the train is often the best option between Manhattan and JFK. AirTrain stops at every JFK terminal and connects with both the NYC Subway (Howard Beach and Jamaica stations) and Long Island Railroad (Jamaica Station). There's also the NYCAirporter bus authorized by the Port Authority for $17.
LaGuardia (LGA) is the closest to Midtown and Upper Manhattan, and thus preferred by some travelers. LaGuardia is largely a domestic airport, with some flights to/from Canada and limited long-distance flights. It has the least convenient mass transit connections, but metered taxis are readily available and relatively cheap. The new Q70 Express Bus goes from LGA to the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Av/74th St/Broadway subway station where there are connections to the E, F, M, R, and 7 subway lines. The bus makes one more stop at Woodside for LIRR connections, before heading back to the airport. The M60 city bus from 106th and Broadway goes to LGA via Broadway, 125th St. and the Triborough Bridge directly to LGA and stops at all terminals. You can also take the M60 from the airport to the Astoria Blvd station for connections to the N/Q subway lines. Cost of any of these buses is $2.75 with a free transfer to the subway. There are also private buslines & going from LGA to midtown for about $15.00 run by Supershuttle and GO Airport Shuttle and the NYCAirporter bus authorized by the Port Authority for $14.
Newark-Liberty International (EWR) in New Jersey is the closest to lower Manhattan. International flights into this hub can be cheaper than those to JFK. The best route into Manhattan, especially at high traffic times of the day, is via New Jersey Transit trains, which runs frequently and quickly between the airport and New York's Pennsylvania station. Newark's airport rail station is serviced by Newark AirTrain, which stops at every terminal. Of the three larger NYC-area airports, taxis to/from Newark will cost the most and will often include excess fees given NYC taxis can't pick up passengers across state lines in Newark, and vice versa.
Many regional bus services use the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue and West 41st and 42nd Streets. Visitors from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware might consider Peter Pan, one of the terminal’s oldest discount bus services. For frequent service from Boston, Buffalo, Toronto, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Washington, many opt for Megabus. Frugal riders can compromise comfort for a $15 (or cheaper) ticket on “Chinese Buses” that arrive and depart in Chinatown. The comfortable Hampton Jitney serves Long Island visitors and the Hampton Luxury Liner goes to and from the Hamptons.
Visitors can navigate from the airport to the city via public transportation, cabs, shuttle buses or car rentals. If you flew into JFK, a free and reliable service-desk can help you sort through the options and book ground transportation arrangements or check all options on belanding. You can compare options using Mozio, an airport ground transportation search engine that has bookable options to and from JFK, EWR and LGA airports including shuttles like Supershuttle and GO Airport Shuttle or private livery services like Eastern Car Service and Carmel.
From JFK, use Airtrain ($5 per person, plus $1 if you need a new MetroCard) to get from terminals to subways or the Long Island Railroad. Airtrain’s Howard Beach line connects to the A train, which runs through Queens and Brooklyn before entering lower Manhattan; its Jamaica branch goes to Jamaica station, Queens, where you can connect to either the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) or the E or J/Z subway lines into Manhattan.
From Newark, Airtrain travels to NJ Transit Northeast corridor railroad line, which goes to Penn Station. For those on a tight budget (and not in a rush), use the PATH, aka the Hudson Tubes, formally known as the Port Authority Trans Hudson Lines. You will probably have to make subway or bus transfers so this option is time consuming (up to two hours of travel), but it only costs $4.75 total.
From LGA, the least expensive way (and often the fastest) to Manhattan is via the Q70 bus, or the Q48 or M60 buses. Basic fare is $2.75 per person. You will need to use coins or buy a MetroCard in advance of getting on the bus, because city buses do not accept bills. See this MTA webpage for bus and subway details for JFK and LGA. Metrocards are sold at LaGuardia Airport. The M60 stops at all terminals and at the Astoria Blvd Station of the N and Q trains in Queens before going along 125 St in Manhattan and stopping at four different subway lines in Manhattan. The others go for shorter distances to subway stations in Queens.
Note that the Q33 no longer goes to LGA; that service has been replaced by the Q70 Limited bus, which stops at "61 St.-Woodside Station" on the 7 and <7> express (as well as the Long Island Railroad), and at "74th St-Bway" (Queens) on the 7 local, which is the same station as "Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights" on the E, F, M, R trains of the Queens Blvd. line. After those two station stops, the Q70 bus runs non-stop on a highway right into the Airport. Note that the Q70 does not stop at the Marine Air Terminal; but the Q47 from Jackson Hts and the Q48 from 111 St (Queens) on the 7 line still stop there.
To go from LGA to JFK, take the Q70 bus to the first stop off the airport. (Jackson Heights), take the Jamaica-bound E train to "Sutphin-JFK", and the JFK Air Train to the terminals (for a total price of $7.50).
*More public transit details listed below.
JFK, La Guardia and Newark all have shared van rides into the city. It’s less expensive than a cab if you’re traveling alone, but it takes longer because you may need to stop at other hotels or addresses before arriving at your destination. From LGA or JFK, the Airport Express bus service goes to several locations for $13-$16 one-way. The NYC Airporter also provides shuttle service to and from LGA-Manhattan and to and from JFK-Manhattan for about $13.00 one-way. Be warned, GoAirlink Shuttle gets terrible reviews.
If you should be traveling to/from Brooklyn, Concrete Connect offers a safe, reliable, and convenient shared-ride transportation experience for customers traveling to NYC Airports, all at an affordable price! Concrete Connect has regularly scheduled departures from in front of LIRR AtlanticTerminal in Brooklyn going to JFK Airport. Concrete Connect is Brooklyn's JFK Airport Shuttle. For service to other NYC area airports and group rates, call 844-700-7433.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) operates subways and buses that can get you anywhere in the city, though you can also walk or take a cab. Note that “uptown” means north and “downtown” means south.
New York City is one of the world’s best walking cities. The sidewalks pulse with energy, and you might even stroll past movie stars, television personalities, music icons or models. Twenty blocks (e.g. 40th St to 60th St) is about a mile and usually takes 20 – 30 minutes to walk. You can generally get anywhere in Midtown Manhattan within an hour.
If you're exploring Greenwich Village, SoHo and TriBeCa, grab a map or ask for directions. But all of Manhattan north of 14th Street is laid out on an easy-to-navigate grid, with Avenues running North-South and numbered streets running East-West.
New York’s subway system is the fastest way to get around the city, and if you're traveling alone it's probably the most economical. A reloadable subway pass (called a MetroCard) costs $1 plus any fares that need to be added, and can be purchased at many stores and newsstands above ground, or at kiosks inside the subway stations. Single rides cost $2.75 if paid by MetroCard, or $3.00 if paid by a SingleRide ticket (available at subway vending machines only). Infants and children less than 44 inches tall can ride for free. MetroCards can also be used on city buses.
There are two types of MetroCards. The Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard carries a dollar balance and can be reloaded as needed. There is an 11% bonus for purchases over $5.50 on a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. It can be used on both the subway and city buses, and also on Express buses, PATH, and the Airtrain. A 7 day Unlimited Ride MetroCard may be a better value if you plan to ride the subway more than 13 times during your visit. However it can only be used on local city buses and the subway, and cannot be shared. MetroCards are reloadable and can hold both Pay-Per-Ride and Unlimited fares, however Unlimited fares will be used first. As of September 2015 a week-long MetroCard gave an adult unlimited travel on all subways and city buses for $31, plus the $1 to purchase the card. It is a very economical way for a tourist wanting to go all over the city all day long for a few days to a week.
Most NY subway trunks are four track - there are local trains that make every stop, and expresses that only make some stops. It's important to know which you want, or you will waste a lot of time backtracking. In most stations the locals are on the outside tracks, and the expresses on the inner tracks. But there are some exceptions, so look for the signs above the platform and listen to announcements
Once you're on the subway, you can transfer as many times as you want. Plan local public transportation using the MTA Trip Planner, Google Maps, or Hopstop.com (if you have an Apple device). Both websites provide excellent online directions in and around the city.
The Lexington Avenue Lines (4, 5, 6) run north/south on the East Side and are helpful if you’re going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium and Chinatown.
The Seventh Avenue Lines (1, 2, 3) run north/south along Broadway and then Seventh Avenue. It can help you reach the West Village, Chelsea, Tribeca neighborhoods and ferries to Staten Island.
The Eighth Avenue Lines (A, C, E) runs north/south on the West Side and can take you near the Natural History Museum, the west side of Central Park and JFK Airport.
The Sixth Avenue Line (B, D, F, M) runs north/south through Manhattan for access to the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Some lines run east to Brooklyn or Queens.
The Broadway Lines (N, Q, R) go down Broadway below 42nd Street and on Seventh Avenue above Times Square. They can help you get to Chinatown, SoHo, New York University, Union Square, the Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall and Central Park, as well as the Financial District and Brooklyn.
Bus routes thoroughly cover all major areas of the city and, while not as fast as the subway system, they provide an inexpensive alternative to cabs and another great way to encounter everyday folks. Pay with a MetroCard or change; fare boxes don’t accept bills.
The route designations include a letter and number. The letter is the borough: M=Manhattan Q=Queens B=Brooklyn Bx=Bronx and S=Staten Island. Most routes stay within the borough, but there are exceptions such as the Q32 that goes to Penn Station in Manhattan. Express buses for commuters are marked with an X above the window; these cost more and most visitors won’t have any use for them.
Boats & Ferry Service
For excellent views of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island or skyscrapers, take the Staten Island Ferry, a free commuter ferry that operates year-round between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in Lower Manhattan. When you get to Staten Island you must get off the boat, but if the weather is nice you might take a stroll along the waterfront promenade or watch giant cargo ships glide by. Note: the Staten Island Ferry does not actually stop at the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.
Statue Cruises also operate ferries to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, but you have to buy a ticket. Advanced purchase online is highly recommended, though you can get same-day tickets at Castle Clinton.
If you’re traveling in a group of two or more, this is probably the best way to travel in New York City. You can easily get anywhere in Manhattan for no more than $10 - $15, less than a subway ride when split between a group. Popular ride sharing applications like Uber are usually cheaper than taxis. If this is your first time in New York, the promo code UBER20$$ will get you 20$ credit and a first free ride. Ask your hotel concierge or a doorman to call a taxi for you, or just head to the street and raise a hand in the air. Real NYC taxis are yellow with a metal seal on the hood, a meter for billing, a divider inside the car and special taxi license plates. Look for one with a lit light on top but no “off duty” mark.
Commuter rails go between the city and its suburbs, though you can use them for intracity transit, too, since some tourist destinations are closer to their stops than the subway. The Long Island Railroad runs from Penn Station to Queens and Brooklyn, while Metro-North Railroad provides service from Grand Central Terminal to the Bronx and north suburbs. MetroCards aren’t valid on these trains, so buy a separate ticket online or in the stations before you board.
Information source about New York Travel Phone Apps from the MTA dot info