Help! What is MTA and how do I get anywhere?

Some of you may have read articles that the MTA (the Metropolitan Transit Authority, our public transportation system here in NYC) has been hit or miss lately. With some construction and a series of delays, one of our TC admits asked us, “What do you recommend?”

First off, feel free to stop by our Office of Admission for a subway map! However, since most of you would probably enjoy an easily downloadable app, we recommend Citymapper. It can get you anywhere in the city and updates your ETA with delays. You can even set it to read, “Arrive by___” and set your desired time of arrival so that you have an idea of when to leave in time! Although we find this app to be pretty up-to-date with delays etc, you never know what may happen! We always recommend leaving an extra fifteen minutes or so. You may also want to check the MTA’s service updates. As our subways operate 24/7, NYC typically allots time for construction on the weekends, so weekend service may be different. Weekend schedules are listed in advance on the MTA website.

In NYC, we have both express and local trains. Express trains make fewer stops while local trains stop every five blocks or so on a line. Always listen for impromptu announcements while on the train just in case an express train has a mishap and has to run local or a local train needs to run express. The conductor will typically announce if it is going to skip your stop.

Our other biggest subway tips? Never get into an empty car. This typically means there may be a bad smell or the air conditioning isn’t working.

But, what if I still manage to get lost? Don’t hesitate to ask your local neighborhood shops or bodegas for directions. New Yorkers are not as intimidating as you may have heard. As a resident of lower Manhattan, I am constantly asked directions to the Freedom Tower or Wall Street. I realized that this is usually when I am walking my dog–which brings me to my next tip! If you see someone walking a dog or pushing a stroller, they most likely live here. Those are the best folks to ask for directions!

Finally, rest assured that if something does go haywire and you’re late to your appointment or work, life goes on! Always allot extra time, but if there is a sick passenger on your train and you get stuck in a station, chances are your boss will understand. For NYC educators, this tardiness is typically excused as long as you can show the MTA record from your morning commute. (The MTA posts each incident on their website.)

And if Citymapper suggests driving could be the fastest? Make sure to check out cheaper pooling options such as Uber, Lyft, Juno, Gett, and Via.

We look forward to sharing our chaos with you! Welcome to New York City!

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