The New York Metro (or Subway, always Subway, if you say metro they won’t understand you) is a complex and intricate thing, and one wrong staircase can land you on the other side of the East River in Brooklyn. In my two days in NYC, I have had plenty of experience in getting lost. So here are a few tips for you all to follow;
- The best way to get lost, and by far the quickest, is to forget which direction is uptown and which is downtown. If you are a bit directionally challenged this can be quite natural. However, forgetting that ascending street numbers mean uptown and descending mean downtown is a good way to do it. Say for example, if you want to go from 53rd St to 58th St (in Midtown), you would be going UPTOWN, but to get lost, you must forget and go DOWNTOWN. On certain lines this will land you over the East River in Brooklyn.
- Another sure-fire way is to confuse Brooklyn and Queens. Brooklyn – Downtown, Queens – Uptown. Very similar to method no. 1.
- Also, there are many entrances to each subway station. In the larger ones, getting into the wrong entrance can be rectified by a few down staircases, an underpass and an escalator. However, in the smaller ones, once you’re in the wrong entrance, you have 3 choices
a. Risk death, injury and/or fine crawling across the tracks
b. Exit and pay another $2.25 on the other side
c. Ride the subway till a bigger stop comes up and then change directions.
- Just because a train goes past a station doesn’t mean it stops. Even if both 5 and 6 trains run past 96th St/Lexington, doesn’t mean you can catch both 5 and 6. Catching the 5 will land you very close to Harlem.
- When one line intersects with another on the map, doesn’t mean you can change trains at that point, because it is (not so clearly) not a station, unless there is a dot on the intersection of the two lines. Misjudging this will land you at the harbour, most likely and 10:30 at night when most people look like they are carrying guns. Catching the train out of a sticky situation like this may also prove a bit worrying, because (knowing your luck) you will get stuck in a carriage on your own until the next station where two frat-like guys will get on, sit directly opposite from you and stare intensely until their stop at NY University. In such situations, and unless they are incredibly good looking, it is best not to make eye contact.