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Getting Around the Big Apple

This article has been excerpted from The Business Traveler Guide to New York City, available from Entrepreneur Press.

One of the great things about New York City is that virtually everything you could possibly want or need is located within Manhattan or one of its suburbs. Thanks to multiple forms of efficient transportation, getting around town is easy.

In fact, you'll often find it easier and significantly cheaper to utilize public transportation (taxis, subways, buses and limousines, for example) than to drive and have to park a rental car within Manhattan. As you'll soon discover, parking a car at any New York hotel will cost about $50 per night. Parking in short-term public lots located throughout the city can cost upwards of $10 to $20 per hour.

Taxis
To get around the city, taxis are the most convenient, but not the cheapest, form of transportation. There are many taxi companies that service New York City and surrounding areas. Fares are governed by the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, so they're consistent for all yellow medallion taxis. Each taxi can hold up to four or five passengers (depending on the vehicle model) plus luggage, for the same rate.

The benefit of utilizing taxies is that they're readily available, 24 hours per day, and they provide convenient door-to-door service. Drivers are required to take passengers to any destination in the five boroughs of New York City, Nassau County, Westchester County, and Newark Liberty International Airport. The fare within New York City is the amount indicated on the meter at the end of your trip, plus any tolls and tip.

Upon entering the taxi at the start of your trip, be prepared to tell the driver the exact address of your destination, including the cross streets. When you're ready to exit the taxi, use the door facing the curb. Never exit on the side of oncoming traffic. Be sure to gather your personal belongings from both the passenger cabin and the trunk, and take the printed receipt from the driver upon paying the fare displayed on the meter (plus tolls and tip, if applicable).

Chauffeured Limousines and Town Cars
For the upscale business traveler, getting around New York City in a chauffeured limousine or town car is a preferred and convenient way to travel. Chauffeured stretch limousines, standard limos and town cars can be rented by the hour, half day or full day. Rates vary among the companies, but the average rate ranges from $40 per hour (for a basic limousine) to $80 per hour (for a superstretch limousine), plus tip and tolls.

Many of the hotels provide limo service upon request (for a fee), or you can book directly with any of the companies listed later in this section. You can also reserve limousine service online, at www.limos.com.

All the limousine companies listed in this section offer airport pickup and drop-off service, typically for a flat fee. Once you make your reservation, keep the limo company's phone number, reservation number and pickup location handy. You want to be able to contact the company if your travel itinerary changes or if the limo is late.

Subways
New York's subway system operates 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The subway system includes about 25 routes, which are designated by a number or letter. Throughout the city and surrounding areas, there are more than 468 subway stations, which travel along more than 714 miles of track (most of which are located underground.) The subway system's 5,800 cars are air-conditioned, heated and well-lit. Trains operate every two to five minutes during rush hours (6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.), every 10 to 15 minutes at other times during the day, and every 20 minutes between midnight and 5 a.m.

Every subway station entrance displays the routes the subways follow from that stop. Located above the tracks at the platform, you'll also see signs displaying specific routes and the direction the subway travels from that specific platform. Most subways are handicap accessible.

Tips for Using the MTA Subway System

  • Ask for detailed directions or study the MTA subway map, so you know which trains to take and which stations to utilize in order to reach your destination quickly. You can also use the MTA's automated Trip Planner guide (http://travel.mtanyct.info).
  • If you're traveling alone, stay in crowded, well-lit areas of the subway stations, and don't stand too close to the tracks. Look for "off-hour waiting areas" and utilize them. Avoid entering empty subway cars, especially at night. Once aboard the train, consider riding in the front car near the conductor for added safety.
  • In every subway station there is a Customer Information Center bulletin board that displays the subway map, train schedules and information about changes in service due to construction. Many subway stations also have a station agent available 24 hours per day to answer questions and provide directions.
  • To enter the subway stations and access the trains, you need to swipe your MetroCard at the entrance turnstile. Upon doing this, a green light marked "Go" will appear, indicating you should move forward.
  • Upon entering the subway station, follow the appropriate signs that'll lead you to the subway you need to board. Pay attention to the direction the train will be traveling (uptown or downtown, for example).
  • The front and side of all subway trains display the route number or letter. Local trains make every stop along the designated route, while express trains skip some stops. The subway maps indicate express and local stops.
  • As the train makes stops along the route, pay attention to the signs in the stations. While announcements are made aboard the train, they're often difficult to hear or understand.
  • While riding the subway, always try to appear confident and look like you know where you're going. Avoid showing cash or your wallet in public. Keep in mind the subway system are generally safe; however, pick-pocketing and mugging can occur. Keep a firm grasp on your briefcase, purse and wallet. Never leave your belongings unattended on a bus, on a subway, or within a subway station.
  • If you need directions while riding the subway, consider asking a friendly-looking New Yorker. Most people will be happy to assist you.
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