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New York rental guide - The subway

Central Park may be the lungs of New York City but the subway is the city's lifeblood. It's cheap, runs round the clock and is the fastest and most reliable way to get around. The subway may be loud, old and dirty, but it's absolutely essential to the functioning of New York City (and, by extension, of a large chunk of the American economy).

With around 650 miles of track the subway is well over twice the length of London's tube network (which has a mere 250 miles). Most lines originate in Brooklyn or Queens and run the length of Manhattan, with hubs and interchanges scattered throughout the city, before continuing north into The Bronx or looping back out into Queens. Getting to know your way round takes time but you'll soon know the routes you use most often and will start piecing the rest together. The best place to start, in the meantime, is the MTA website.

The subway can be daunting at first. It's easy to get turned around, enter on the wrong side or make any number of other novice errors while you're learning the fine art of using the world's largest mass transit system. But don't be put off, in time most New Yorkers develop their own ways of dealing with it. Some work out which carriage to get on in order to be closest to the exit they need at the other end. Others prefer comfort over convenience and figure out where on the platform to stand to avoid the most crowded cars and have at least a chance of getting a seat.

However you deal with it you'll come to know (and maybe even love) the subway. It's about as New York as you can get.


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