posted on February 10, 2016
Have you ever wanted to see the world? Visit the Statue of Liberty, spend a day in Istanbul, or see the Colosseum with your own eyes?
Public transportation is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to get around when seeing the sights. In our next three articles, we’ll be “exploring” three cities with some of the best, most extensive public transportation systems in the world!
The Big Apple
First let’s take a look at New York City, New York, the most populous city in the United States.
New York is made up of five boroughs, or five different administrative divisions. A borough is an incorporated town, smaller than a city.
The five boroughs of New York City include Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. The City of New York has a bunch of different methods of public transportation to accommodate the city’s large population!
To explore them, let’s pretend you’re spending a day in the Big Apple. If you’re not one of the estimated 8.5 million people who live in New York City—don’t worry—there’s a variety of ways to get there.
If you don’t live on the eastern coast of the United States, then you might get to New York City by airplane, one of the quickest modes of transportation.
New York City has three major airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport (simply known as JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark International Airport (EWR).
Located in Queens, JFK handles primarily international flights. JFK is 15 miles away from midtown Manhattan. Also in Queens, eight miles away from midtown, LaGuardia handles mainly domestic flights (so if you’re flying in from anywhere in the United States, you’d probably come through LGA).
Then there’s Newark International Airport, located 16 miles away from midtown Manhattan in Newark, New Jersey. EWR is generally more expensive to travel to/from than LGA or JFK, but is less crowded with more modern facilities!
Let’s check out some of the most famous landmarks in New York City.
The Statue of Liberty, located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, is a copper statue designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. The Statue of Liberty was built by Gustave Eiffel, a French civil engineer and architect, whose company also designed and built the Eiffel tower!
And did you know that over 40 percent of the United States’ population descended from the 17 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954?1
If you’re interested in seeing the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, you can take advantage of The Ellis Island/Liberty Island ferry. A round trip fare on the ferry includes admission to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Operating seven days a week, this ferry departs from both Battery Park in Manhattan and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. To get there, you could take a train, bus, car, or maybe even a taxi! Let’s take a closer look at some of those transportation methods.
Hailing a cab
Taxis serve as a quick and easy way for those travelling across Manhattan: a route easier to travel by taxi than by subway (the taxis might smell a little better, too).
The act of flagging down a taxi, called “hailing,” is achieved by simply waving your arm above your head at the passing yellow vehicles. When the number on the roof of the cab is lit, that means the cab is available for service.
Official “Yellow Medallion” cabs are the only taxis authorized to pick up hails, so be careful when a taxi is missing the official yellow color and the medallion on the front hood! Taxis must have a medallion to operate.
Taxis are operated by private companies and licensed by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (simply known as TLC).
Private driving services such as Uber and Lyft are changing the taxi business in New York City.
Now that we’re well-versed on taxis, let’s take a look at two methods of transportation near and dear to the true New York experience: city buses and the subway.
Taking the bus
Did you know New York City has the world’s largest fleet of buses?
Between the New York City Transit and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses, there are over 5,700 thousand public buses serving over 2.5 million people a day, and nearly 800 million people annually.2
The bus system is the perfect complement to the subway system, servicing routes not available when riding the subway (such as traveling east-west or to outlying areas of the city).
The downside is that the buses can be agonizingly slow, since they generally stop every two blocks or so. But if it’s your first time in New York City, it may double as the perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with the view.
MTA buses also serve as the main mode of transportation for K-12 students traveling to and from school, so from 8-9 a.m. and from 2-3 p.m., you can expect loads of school-aged children as fellow passengers.
Riding the subway
New York City and its subway system go hand-in-hand.
The New York City subway system is “one of the most efficient people transports in the entire world!” Over 5.6 million people ride the subway system each day, and over 1.75 billion people travel through the turnstiles each year.2
You can pay for both the subway and bus systems using a MetroCard, the primary method of fare payment. All subway stations and buses in New York City are MetroCard capable.
MetroCard’s can be bought on a pay-per-ride basis, or you can buy unlimited ride Metrocards for thirty days, seven days, or one day.
The subway system caters to Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens.
Getting to Staten Island
What about the fifth borough?
Since Staten Island is indeed an island, it’s a little more difficult to get to but definitely not impossible. You can travel to Staten Island using the Staten Island Railway (SIR) or the Staten Island Ferry.
The Staten Island Ferry is the main mode of transportation between Manhattan and Staten Island and it’s free of charge. The Staten Island Ferry is yet another great sightseeing opportunity, passing Governor’s Island and the Statue of Liberty on its route.
Next we’re going to explore the sights of Rome, Italy, and the streets of Istanbul, Turkey. To leave New York City and go abroad, we’d depart from one of the city’s international airports, which we now know to be JFK and EWR!