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Whether you’re a tourist or a local, your smartphone is admittedly your best friend in New York City, and just like a friend would do, it tells you how to get from Point A to Point B without, hopefully, getting too lost. Here are my favorite NYC transit apps I’ve used daily or weekly.
I even go through how to use each app specifically for each NYC travel situation so don’t skip over a section even if you already use the app. It’s a totally different ballgame for traveling around New York!
Google Maps is the best NYC subway map app to use. Even though there are other NYC subway maps like Hopstop, Google Maps has been especially trustworthy and is the main app I use for directions because it’s an all-in-one travel app.
You can find out subway, walking, biking, and car directions on it. Even though I know a lot of the subway by heart, I still check with Google Maps to see what my options are based on time and comfort.
When to Use Google Maps in New York City
Taking the NYC Subway and Walking
Google Maps is fully integrated with the subway system so you can get NYC subway directions with walking directions all in one. You don’t need a separate app for subway directions then pull up another one for walking!
Before Taking a Cab
You’d think that taking a cab would be faster than a subway, but sometimes it’s not because of traffic! In rush hour times, it can actually take much longer taking a cab than the subway. This is why I check NYC subway directions before hopping in a cab.
Seriously, there’s traffic at the weirdest times like in the Lower East Side on a Saturday at 1AM. It’s totally unexpected at such an “odd” hour and slowly drains away the time that you could be out doing something fun. So use Google Maps to check both subway and driving times at once to see your best option for travel.
While Riding In a Cab
Cab drivers were born with tiny little GPS’ in their brains, but sometimes cab drivers need a little help because even the maps inside their head can’t predict a traffic jam due to an accident or construction. So I like to pull out my Google Maps and let them politely know of a less congested way to take.
Also, if you’re a tourist, they may pull a fast one on you and take a longer route. Most likely, they wouldn’t do that, but just in case, it’s nice to have the app out.
Ok, let’s be serious. I don’t bike in New York City, but if you do, Google Maps will tell you the best biking directions. Keep reading to learn about Citibike, a bikeshare program in NYC.
Checking for Uber
Again, Google Maps is an all-in-one transit map. It’s integrated with Uber and will tell you how much and how long an Uber would be.
Want to use Google Maps but don’t have data or wifi? No problem!
Google Maps allows you to save offline maps so if you don’t have a data plan when visiting New York, you can save an offline map and still access it with GPS when out and about. Here’s how to get the map offline.
Google Maps is the best New York subway app, but sometimes, I don’t find its construction / delay notices to be that reliable. Of course, the MTA puts notices around subway stations but to really plan ahead of time and avoid interruptions in the subway, I like to pull up the MTA Weekender, the official MTA transit app.
This MTA transit app tells you either by line or stop exactly where there’ll be construction and combined with Google Maps, you’ll be able to get around it with no problem.
Nonetheless, Google Maps is always improving and there are signs everywhere in the subway stations about construction, so you don’t necessarily need this app. It’s just nice to have!
Before Uber, I had to get a cab by figuring out which side of the street I needed to be on before waving my arm around frantically and yelling at a taxi to come if there was one at all. Now, with Uber, I just open the app, call an UberX a few minutes before I want to be picked up, and wait for the car to pull up right where I’m standing.
Here’s the benefits of my favorite New York transportation app:
- Uber is integrated with Google Maps so that the driver will take the best route possible so unlike in a yellow cab like I mentioned above, you don’t need to outsmart the driver with Google ’cause he’s already on it.
- You don’t need to fumble for your wallet and potentially leave it in the cab because Uber charges your card as soon as your ride is over.
Get $5 off your first Uber ride here.
Citibike is great if you want to bike in New York City as your mode of transportation. It costs $9.99 for the day or $100 for the year.
You are allowed to ride the bike for the first 30 minutes for free, and anytime after, it charges you extra. This is because the Citibike is supposed to be an alternative to transportation, not a source of bike rental for fun. However, you should be able to get to where you need to in NYC in less than 30 minutes so going past the 30 minutes won’t be an issue.
Recommended Reading: 10 Things Not to do in New York City
I love this app! I actually wanted to make this app myself at one point. Besides giving you the normal New York City metro map, it tells you exactly which part of the subway to stand at so you can leave the subway station at the best exit for where you need to go.
This can save minutes on your commute so you’re not stuck walking the whole length of the subway station out, which can sometimes be a whole city block or two underground! This is especially helpful for when it’s rush hour, you’re stuck with the commuter crowd, and you just want to get out.
This isn’t a NYC subway app to help you get around, but boy will you need this sometime! It’s notoriously hard to find a toilet you can use in New York City that doesn’t have a 20 minute wait (like at most Starbucks) or costs money. Use this app to figure out where you can pee for free, and even which toilets are clean and you can sit on and which ones are dirty and you need to squat over.
Other Helpful New York City Information
If you’re in New York for a couple of days or more, check out any of these other posts for a seamless trip!
- 10 Things Not to Do in NYC – local tips and must know advice
- Two days in New York City Guide
- 15 Cheap Places to Eat in NYC
- Places to Eat in NYC Under $5
- Best Apps to Get Around NYC
- NYC City Pass vs New York Pass: How to Save Money on Tourist Sites in NYC
- Where to Find the Best Graffiti and Street Art in Bushwick, Brooklyn
- Local pizza tour of Brooklyn
I hope these NYC transit apps will be helpful on your trip to New York! If it’s your first time in New York City, check out these 10 things not to do.
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