New York City Subway | The Largest Subway System in the World

by Denise Marie

With a little planning and preparation, the subway in New York City is easy to navigate. The routes extend to four of the five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, with the Staten Island Railway serving Staten Island.

Open for business 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, is the ideal and most affordable way to get around the city.

The Subway System

The New York City subway has 468 stations that serve 24 subway lines. This is more than any other subway system in the world. All the subway cars and buses in New York City are air-conditioned and either new or renovated. The subway system extends to four of the five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.

To reach Staten Island, passengers must use the Staten Island Railway (SIR). There is no direct subway link to the SIR, but riders traveling to and from Staten Island get a free transfer to the New York subway lines.

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Each subway route is named by either a letter of the alphabet (A,C,E, B,D,F,M,G) or single-digit numbers (1,2,3,4,5,6,7). One you pay your fare, you can ride as many routes as you like as long as you do not exit the subway. The entire subway system is covered by your same single fare regardless of how long or how far you ride.

The New York City subway system is open all year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Typically every station is always operating. Free subway maps outlining the routes are available at subway station booths, or can be accessed online. Maps are available in several different languages.


The cash fare to ride the New York City subway is $2.50. Fares are cheaper if you use a MetroCard, which can be purchased at subway station booths, Metrocard vending machines, Metrocard bus and vans and neighborhood merchants.

Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on the New York City subway when accompanied by an adult.

Subway Safety

It can be very dangerous to stand to close to the edge of the platform. Riders are urged to stay well back from the edge and hold children’s hands when waiting for the train. It is advised not to lean over the edge of the platform to see if the train is approaching, as trains can come from either direction. Stay away from the edge of the platform. Before stepping onto the train, make sure the train has come to a complete stop.

Never go down onto the tracks if you have dropped something. Instead, use the station’s customer assistance intercom or tell a train station employee or police officer. Always keep off the tracks as they contain more than 600 volts of electricity.

When on a subway train, be smart and be aware of your surroundings. The emergency cord stops the train so use it only to prevent an accident or injury such as if someone is caught between closing doors. If someone is sick, do not pull the cord since it stops the train and prevents medical services from reaching you. It is better for the train to reach the next station so the person in need can receive medical attention as quickly as possible.


Due to the fact that many areas of the New York subway are more than a century old, not every station is equipped with elevators or escalators. Many stations are in the process of being renovated for wheelchair accessibility.

People with disabilities who are unable to access the subway may apply for Access-A-Ride door-to-door paratransit service. Paratransit refers to a “demand-response” service where customers who are eligible can book their trip in advance.

Click to visit the New York City Subway website.

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