If you are a long-time New Yorker, using busses and subways is routine. However, if you are a newcomer, you need to learn how to use the city’s public transportation system. Here are some key points you should know.
Traveling around the city is easiest by bus, but fastest by subway. The local busses typically stop every two blocks, but if the sign on a bus says Limited, the bus will stop at major intersections only, every 5-10 blocks. All busses have several seats up front dedicated to seniors and disabled people.
Now, the good news: If you are 65 years or older, you can travel at half fare on all MTA local busses and subways. Even if you’re just visiting NYC! On city busses, you show your Medicare card to the driver and pay $1.25 in coins (no pennies). On subways, you need to purchase from the ticket agent a single fare, $2.50 Metrocard that includes a free return.
Note: The senior fare is not available on Express busses or some commuter trains during weekday rush hours.
The easiest way to make sure that you always get your discount is to apply for the reduced fare Metrocard for Seniors. This can be done by mail, or in person by visiting a Metrocard van in your neighborhood or at The MTA Customer Service Center 3 Stone Street, in Lower Manhattan, Between Broadway and Broad Street. Hours: weekdays, 9 AM to 5 PM, except holidays.
Using your Senior Metrocard you will automatically get the reduced fare. And if you sign up for the Easy Pay option and link your Metrocard to your credit card, it will automatically fill up to the amount you have selected (for example, $10) whenever the card is empty, so you never have to wait in line to fill up your Metrocard.
Many newcomers to the city are nervous about using the subway, but traveling by subway is fast and safe. The trains run every few minutes and many stations have now signs that indicate how many minutes you have to wait before the next train arrives. The downside to the subway is that many stations don’t have escalators or elevators, so if you have difficulty with stairs, you need to find out beforehand if the station is accessible. If you are concerned that the elevators and escalators may not work, you can always check out the repair status of the stations you’ll be using.