New York City may not have America’s cleanest or most pleasant public transport system but it is certainly the best with an impressive network of subway and train lines plus bus services running all over the city. In fact the entire metropolitan area has three different metro systems, four different suburban train systems, several ferry routes and thousands of buses.
There are three separate metro systems in the New York metropolitan area including the New York City Subway, PATH and the Newark Light Rail; but the New York Subway is what New Yorkers mean when they talk about the subway.
With 468 stations and 1150km of track, the New York City Subway is one of the world’s largest metro systems. It runs 24 hours and is the quickest and cheapest way to get around the city. A single ride is $2.50, a one-day pass is $8.25, a seven-day pass costs $27 and a 14-day pass costs $51.50.
The Newark Light Rail, sometimes referred to by its old name, the Newark City Subway, is a small metro system that runs in Newark, New Jersey. It is unlikely that you will ever use it unless you are staying with friends in Newark. A one-way fare costs $1.35.
The PATH metro system consists of a couple of lines linking Manhattan with New Jersey. It is a handy transport option if you want to pop across the Hudson to visit Hoboken, Jersey City or Newark. A one-way fare costs $1.75.
Christopher Street PATH station in Greenwich Village
The New York area is served by four different suburban train systems, although very few travellers venture out to the suburbs when there is so much on offer in the city.
The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is probably one of the more useful rail systems and it is handy if you want to visit the Hamptons or if you have a flight from Long Island Airport.
Metro North trains depart from Grand Central Terminal and go to northern suburbs including destinations in Westchester County and Connecticut.
NJ Transit is the most useful of the New York area's suburban train systems as it lets you make excursions to destinations in nearby New Jersey including Atlantic City and Princeton. It is also the easiest way to get to Newark Airport. You can even travel as far afield as Philadelphia by taking a NJ Transit train to Trenton and transferring to a SEPTA train to Philly.
The Staten Island Railway is a small system providing a metro-like service in Staten Island. It is a single line running the length of Staten Island connecting Tottenville and St George (where you can transfer to the Staten Island Ferry). The service operates 24 hours.
The MTA operates over 4000 buses in New York City’s five boroughs and there are thousands more buses operating in the suburbs. Buses aren’t as useful as the subway and most travellers only hop on a bus if they are going to the airport. A standard one-way fare is $2.25 and express buses cost $5.50. Metrocards can be used on MTA buses.
NY Waterway is the main ferry operator with several trans-Hudson routes connecting Hoboken, Jersey City and Weehawken in New Jersey with Manhattan. NY Waterway's main Manhattan terminals are at Battery Park City and Pier 11 (Wall Street) in Downtown Manhattan and West 39th Street in Midtown Manhattan. NY Waterway also operates tourist cruises on New York Harbor.
New York’s best bargain is the Staten Island Ferry that connects St George on Staten Island with Whitehall Street in Lower Manhattan. This ferry offers brilliant views of the Statue of Liberty and Downtown Manhattan and it is absolutely free.