New York City (Manhattan) has one of the best public transportation in the United States. More than 7 million people commute daily to work and go out of the city. There are few things to be considered to make your life easier as a visitor in New York City. The most economical means of commute is the use of Air-train and subway trains which gets you right to midtown Manhattan in less than 60 to 75 minutes for less than US 7.50$. Alternate options are shared shuttles from the airport which are economical ( Approx 15-20$).
Below are the key things to know about Transportation in New York to make your life easier :
1. Getting to & from NYC airports: There are a total of 3 airports around New York (Manhattan) areas and each of them can slightly different depending on where you have your accommodation.
[ JFK ( John F Kennedy International Airport), Newark International Airport(EWR) and LGA ( Laguardia Airport) ]
a. JFK ( John F Kennedy International Airport) : This airport is one of the biggest airport with 13 terminals and one of the primary airport for low fares for international & domestic travels. If you have your hotel accommodation in Manhattan it may take up to an hour and half depending on traffic by taxi or subway. All terminals have helpdesk in the baggage claim terminals to guide you easily.
i) JFK to Midtown Manhattan(NYC) by subway : Each terminal have airtrain stations. If you decide to use air-train and subway ( get a free New York City Subway Map at the station or airport )you can reach Manhattan with lowest fare ( 7.5$) in 1.5 hours. If you are on a budget travel this can be the best bet.
Once you arrive at baggage claims, look for signs that says Air trains. Take train towards Jamaica station ( 5$) on a short ride. From Jamaica station look for signs that says SUBWAY ( F train (marked in orange ) or E train ( marked in purple ). You may have to take a subway card(Metro Card) from one of vending machines or from local stall for 7.50$ which is one way fare to Manhattan. Once you see subway signs follow the the F train that goes to downtown. It will take approx an hour to reach midtown Manhattan ( new York City). Get down at Columbus Circle , 42nd Street Bryant park subway station or 34th Herald Square depending on your hotel accommodation. Other option : You can take the E train and get down at 42nd Street and Port Authority. ( roughly an hour) or final station near World Trade Center station(downtown). There are other subway trains but this is the easiest to reach Manhattan. You can always catch yellow cab once you reach midtown to your hotel.
ii) JFK to Midtown Manhattan(NYC) by Taxi : If you don’t want to go on subway or have kids or checked bags subway can be bit adventurous and you can opt for taxi which can be one of the easier option. Taxis are available in all the terminals. You can get a flat fare Yellow cab which costs approx $52 + tolls + tip = 60$( approx) . Alternatively you can also take the black cab where you can negotiate some number but for visitors this is not recommended. It may take anywhere from 40 minutes to 70 minutes depending on the traffic.
iii) JFK to Midtown Manhattan by Shuttle: Shared Shuttle can be one more economical and easier one but there may be a small wait. Prices vary but you can reach NY city as low as 15$/person and time is approx same as taxi times. More details is available at Shuttle bus: NYC Airporter, Go Airlink NYC and SuperShuttle.
iv) JFK to Jersey City, NJ by Taxi : With lot of developments this has been one of option to stay for many passengers. Either you can take F and get down at 34th Herald Square station and take path Train to New Jersey or take a taxi which costs between 110 to 130$.
v) Car Rentals : Driving in New York City can be a experience of its own. Unless you are leaving the city, car rentals are not recommended because of heavy traffic and expensive parking prices in New York City. Public transportation and taxis are your best bet. If you have to take car rentals then you can rent from major companies like Avis, Hertz, Enterprise and lot more.
More on JFK airport : http://www.panynj.gov/airports/jfk.html
b. LGA : This is a small yet a busy airport but there is no direct connection to public transportation but this is nearer to Manhattan compared to JFK. If you are a visitor taking taxi is your best bet and it will cost you 40 to 45$ at maximum to Manhattan. Other option is shuttle services as mentioned above which will cost you approx 15$.
c. EWR ( Newark Airport ) : This is technically in New Jersey but often considered as New York airport. It connects easily to Manhattan and economical if you use airtrain,Nj Transit and path train. If your accommodation is in NJ or downtown this place can work very well and easier than to JFK or LGA.
3. Public Transportation : Undeniably one of the best in New York City. You will see connectivity easily using New York subway. One of the easiest ways to see the city economically.
4. Taxi : While you are in the city even the local residents travel using Taxi . Tons of nice yellow cabs and they are any day better than driving yourself. There are a lot of private ( black color cabs) and often those end up cheating in the city because they dont have Fare meter. Hence yellow city is recommended for Taxi unless your hotel arranges you black cabs.
5. Uber : Everyone is aware of uber and this works great but on the expensive side