Danny's Nice Town

Riding the Subway in New York City


Riding the Subway in New York City


Riding the Subway in New York City is a great way to get around town.  The NYC subway may not be as easy to understand as the London Underground and it certainly can be confusing at times, at least to me.  But overall, the NYC subway can be very convenient.  Riding the subway is a great way to avoid the stressful traffic on NYC streets.  I wrote about this in another article on my blog, Driving in NYC.  Subway trains often arrive at the station every 5 to 6 minutes so you’re not waiting too long and enjoying the smell of urine. Seriously, the subway stations do not all smell like urine.  They only smell that way in the Summer.  And parts of Spring….and Fall.  But never in Winter.  OK.  Almost never in Winter.  But they are always convenient…well…most of the time.  This is a positive article on riding the subway.  I promise!

A few rules on riding the subway.  

Please don’t eat on the subway!  The subway is not a food court.  The subway car is not your kitchen or living room or wherever you eat in your home.  The subway is for riding.  Not dining. The people around you do not want to smell that fish sandwich or Big Mac you’re eating.  They really don’t.  More importantly, the last person to sit where you are sitting was a homeless person with really bad hygiene.  He touched the seat and the rail next to you so if you have also touched anything, and believe me, you have touched something in that subway car, you have touched feces and now you’re eating feces.  Avoid eating feces by not eating in the subway.

Dancing Days are Here Again

Dancing panhandlers think the subway is a great place to make some money.  A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the subway heading downtown and two guys, one carrying a boombox, loudly chatted up the subway riders advising us we were in for a treat.  “Oh no”  I thought to myself.  “Here we go”.  Out loud I said “Fuck”.  They definitely heard me.  One of the lads laughed and said to his buddy, “haha, this guy said fuck, hahaha”.  He proceeded to turn on the music and the two dancers started to wildly fling their bodies around the subway train, doing some sort of gymnastic dance routine.  One of the dancers came awfully close to kicking me in the face but I think that was part of the routine and he had no intention of actually knocking me out.  But I couldn’t be sure.  One of the dancers said when he finished, “See, no one got hurt”.   It was pretty annoying and some riders actually gave these two guys some money.  The rule is, no dancing in the subway but also, please don’t give money to subway dancers.  We do not want to get kicked in the face nor do we want to encourage subway dancing.

Can’t you smell that smell

I mentioned above the subway stations often smell like pee.  And they do.  However, the subway cars sometimes have a pretty bad stink as well.  The reason for this is normally due to one specific subway rider.  When the subway train pulls up to the station, here is what you should be looking for.  If the train is pretty full and you see most of the subway cars have lots of people inside, look out for the empty car.  That is the subway car that has a stench worse than death. The reason is simple.  All your fellow subway riders have managed to avoid that one car with the person sleeping in the corner with a blanket over his head who has just recently either vomited, peed, or worse.  That guy needs a shower or a washcloth or a moist towelette desperately.  It’s not his fault.  He has come on hard times.  Don’t blame him.  However, do avoid that subway car and shove your way into the next, better smelling car.

You are not the only one here

When riding the subway, you are probably not alone.  There are 8.4 million people living in NYC and some of them take the subway.  If you looked up from your smart phone for a second, you would see other subway riders.  Most, if not all of them, do not want to hear you sing.  They don’t want to hear the noises your game is making either, so plug those headphones in but please don’t sing.  Or hum.  Or whistle a happy tune.  Your fellow riders will thank you and will not want to punch you in the neck.  The subway is not your private home or music studio.  It’s a public place and the people around you want to have just a bit of peace while they are riding the subway in New York City.

Guys, Pay Attention

Women in the subway do not want to be ogled or touched or harassed in any way.  The subway is not a strip club.  Women are not riding the subway to entertain you.  They just want to get home or get to work without being creeped on.  Don’t be creepy.

Feel Free

Talking on the subway is ok.  Go on, talk to your friend or spouse.  No rules about talking. Mmmmmmmmm maybe one rule.  Please keep the volume down.  Speak loud enough for your wife to hear you over the roar of the subway train but not loud enough for the people on the 87th floor of the Empire State Building to know what you’re saying.  Enough said.

Riding the subway in a better world          


Just follow these rules when riding the subway and the world will become a better place…or at least the subway will become a better place.  The MTA, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, has all sorts of other rules that are posted in most subway cars. Don’t believe me.  Read them for yourself.

Here is a link to the MTA’s good rules called Courtesy Counts.

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4 thoughts on “Riding the Subway in New York City

  1. brother tom

    What advice do you have for the out of towner who has never ridden on a subway and has no idea how to get to where they want to go or how to pay for it?

    1. Danny Post author

      First, visit the MTA website. Lots of good information there. Second, if you have a smart phone, download the subway map app. It has been very useful to me. Third, ride with someone who knows the subway, if that is possible. Otherwise, there will be lots of trial and error. Talk to people in the subway, they are very helpful most of the time.