Take a Cheap and Dirty Ride on the New York City Subway

9 Sep

Riding the New York City subway is a cultural learning experience.

I’ve always had a strange fascination with subways, which is of course weird because I despise germs, dirt, and all stinky people in general. But whatever. I blame my parents. As a kid, they used to take me on the subway in Boston when we would visit my grandma. They would make such a big deal out of how cool it was to ride the train into the city, that I just figured this was the VIP way to cruise around Boston.

Well it may have taken 27 years, but after a recent trip to New York City I finally realized that my parents really pulled one over on me. It turns out that riding the subway is not actually the classy way to maneuver yourself around a big city. Who knew?

The New York City subway is a magically disgusting way to get around Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs. Magical because yes it’s fast and cheap, but disgusting well… do you even have to ask?! Consider the pros and cons of riding the New York City subway before deciding if it’s the right form of transportation for you.

There's nothing pretty about the New York City subway.

Pros of the New York City Subway

  • Cheap. For a mere $2.25 you can get from one side of the city to another. It’s true that there’s added costs you’ll need to take into consideration, such as you’re the loss of your dignity, but if you’re okay with that you can save big money.
  • Fast. Since the trains don’t have to battle any traffic, besides rats and the occasional homeless colony, they can buzz through the tunnels like a rocket. Sure, you might have a classier ride by taxi, but can you get from Greenwich Village to the Upper East Side in 15 minutes?  Probably not.
  • Convenient. It must be widely assumed that if you have to walk more than a few blocks, you won’t bother taking the New York City subway, so as a result there are stations about every other block. You can probably find a subway station and travel 10 blocks on the train in the time it takes to hail a taxi.

Subway transportation is cheap, quick, and dirty.

Cons of the New York City Subway:

  • Heat. In early September, the New York City subway is about as hot and smelly as a 400lb man’s boxer shorts. Yet, you don’t see people heading towards those, do you?
  • Rats. For some reason it never occurred to me that rats live in subway tracks. Regardless, I’d prefer to be oblivious and not actually see them. Well, well I got a nice pre-dinner treat one evening when I had the pleasure of seeing a rat boldly scurrying along the tracks with no apparent fear of being hit by a train.
  • Homeless People. You don’t just get asked for money on a New York City subway train, the homeless people give long, loud speeches about why they are entitled to a donation from you, or if you’re really lucky, they’ll rap you a nice song. A-W-K-W-A-R-D.

For extra tips on surviving the New York City subway, check out “Enjoying New York City’s Subway: The Do’s and Don’ts.”


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