New York Newb

The train pulls up to the station and just as the doors open, someone exits the train and runs (shoulder first) straight into you, knocking you back.  What just happened?  It’s one of those “Welcome to New York” moments you should be prepared for.

Guides and Tips

Subway Rules

When riding the train, there are a few pointers that can help you spare all the other New Yorkers some violent emotions. From getting on to being packed in and trying to get out, these tips can help make your ride smooth and as trouble-free as anything else distinctly New York.

The Ticket Booth and Turnstile

Most station entrances have ticket booth operators to help answer any questions you might have. The important thing to remember is that despite reasonable pay they will most likely be asleep or unresponsive. If you have a question that needs answering, your best bet is to call 311, use your smartphone to go online and search for an answer there, or pray. If you are able to get a ticket booth operator to respond in any way other than "no" or "I dunno", you've just accomplished something incredible.

During busy times like rush hour, having your metrocard out before you get to the turnstile will prevent the pending traffic jam behind you from exploding into anger.

The Train

When waiting for the train doors to open, stand to the side of the doors. Once those doors open, the passengers getting off the train have the right of way. This "right" will be enforced through commuters' shoulders and elbows if you happen to be blocking the doors - pedestrian rage is a pervasive illness afflicted many New Yorkers. After passengers have exited the train, you may then board and move towards the middle of the car between doors to make room for others.

In that same vein, try not to block the doors when you're in the train but it isn't your stop. When packed in like sardines there isn't much you can do about this, but the same rules apply to people getting on the train when the doors are blocked, to people getting out as above. People won't hesitate to get rough when getting on or off a train when someone blocks the doors.

When you're on the train and standing, don't lean against poles with your body, propping yourself up against the pole. This causes problems when someone else needs to hold onto something and all that's there is your shoulder or butt.

With that said, let's say the train pulls up to the station and, despite it being rush hour, the car you're about to enter is completely empty. You might jump for joy at the extra leg room, but think fast and enter into a different car. Empty cars (especially in summer) mean one of two things, either the air conditioning is off and you're about to step into 120º heat, or something atrocious happened in that car and it smells like horror. Speaking from experience, you might think you can tolerate a bad smell for two stops but don't fool yourself.

To make one more note about the train, if you're riding the subway late at night, be careful which car you get into. As the train pulls to the station, you'll generally want to be in the same car as the conductor. On some trains in particular, riding on the last two cars at night can be an awkward step into trouble, particularly now where most doors between cars are locked.

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