Last week, Josh posted his tips and tricks for surviving NYCC. It’s a good read on etiquette and good behavior for NYCC and conventions as a whole. But what if this is your first time in NYC? Well, as a lifelong resident, I offer you a guide to help get around and survive NYC Subway and Taxi rides.
What is NYC?
Here’s a brief history lesson for those who only know about NYC from the movies. New York City is comprised of five boroughs, three of them which are individual islands. Think of them as counties, because that’s what they are.
The island of Manhattan is pretty much what everyone thinks of as New York City. This is where NYCC is going to be, and where pretty much everyone in NYC commutes to for work and play. Queens and Brooklyn (and Long Island) are on their own island together, west of the city. If you’ve heard about a place called Astoria or Williamsburg, this is where they are. You’ll need to cross a bridge to get to them, or take the subway.
Then there’s The Bronx, north of Manhattan, which is the only part of NYC that’s connected to the continental US. It’s a great place to visit for great ethnic food, and to experience some deep NYC culture. Hip Hop was essentially born there, but if it’s your first time in NYC, it can be a bit daunting.
Nobody wants to go to Staten Island on purpose, but I hear they have some of the best Italian Food in the city. Stay off any ferryboats and you'll be just fine.
How to get around
In NYC, we use the subway to get around. Only a crazy person would want to drive in the city proper. This explains taxi drivers. First thing you should do is get yourself a Metrocard, then learn the subway. You can only get a Metrocard at the subway. Avoid anyone trying to sell you theirs.
The Metrocard works in two ways; pay per ride or unlimited. For about $30, you can get an unlimited ride metro card that lets you into any subway station at any time of day. Yes, the subway runs 24/7, but late nights service is reduced, and kinda crappy.
If you’re planning on seeing the city and are going to be in NYC for more than 5 days, get an unlimited ride. If you’re here only for the convention and will only use it once or twice, just pay per ride. It’s the best value.
Follow this Gizmodo suggestion on why you should put $19.05 on your Metrocard. The MTA just recently figured out that tourists don’t know how the Metrocard works, and are starting to nickel and dime you guys. It’s probably a Hydra plot.
The downside of the convention center is that it’s quite a walk from the closest subway station. If you’re commuting to the convention center, take the ACE trains to 34th and then walk West. On the bright side, you’ll probably meet a bunch of cosplayers or attendees on the way. Just follow them and you can't miss it.
The convention center is about three blocks from the subway at 34th Street. However, they’re long blocks. I mean really long. If you don’t want to walk it, take the M34 bus. It's the blue that runs East to West on 34th Street on on this Manhattan Bus Map.
Your Metrocard gives you a free transfer between trains and busses. Use it!
If you need to call a taxi, remember what I said about driving in Manhattan. The convention center is located on one of the western most parts of Manhattan, and the island is full of one way streets. Taxi drivers are pretty aggressive, which is cool if you’re in a rush, but you’re more likely to win a speed record swimming in molasses than getting through crosstown traffic. If you’re staying on the west side, it’s not so bad, since north and south traffic is pretty fast. Protip: avoid staying on the East side!
There’s some other tips about riding a taxi that are beyond this post. Check out this site and know your rights.
For those of you who use Lyft or Uber, I would lean towards using Uber over Lyft in NYC. I’ve not used either (I use Hailo) but I’ve heard Lyft has had problems with local government in NYC, and there’s not much adoption of the service.
Come on and see us sometime
If you manage to make it to NYC and the convention, stop by Booth 1266 and see us. Tell us you survived the subway and we'll give you a buck off our books!
More to come
On the next installment of this survival guide, I’ll talk more about nightlife and dining in NYC and around the con.
I’ll just leave you with this video of Johnny T, and his advice on how to appreciate NYC. Hint: Get the @#$% out of our way!