Are New York subways safe

Subway travel in New York City

The New York City subway network was developed since 1868 and comprises a total of 468 subway stations on 24 routes. The main part of the route is underground, the rest consists of the "ELs" (Elevated Trains), which rattle along the streets as elevated trains (no longer in Manhattan). The subway is fast, reliable and the most practical and cheapest means of transport for long distances. It runs 24 hours a day and is used by around 4.9 million people every day.

Table of Contents
Timetables | Lines and stations | Express / Local Trains | Subway entrances | Fares | security


There are no fixed timetables, but due to the density of traffic there are no long waiting times (depending on the time of day). Route maps (subway map) are essential for using the subway. They are available free of charge at the counters in the subway stations. In addition, each station has a notice board with a subway map and city map for the surrounding area.

Lines and stations

Lines are identified by individual letters or numbers. Each line has its own color in the route plan. The station names are made up of the

  • Street where the stop is located
  • the avenue or street under which the line runs, or
  • a well-known building (e.g. 66th Street / LincolnCenter).

The subways mostly go in the direction of Uptown (north; "Uptown Only") or Downtown (south; "Downtown Only"); there are also Crosstown Shuttles (east-west). The platform with the opposite direction is often on the opposite side of the station. Each train entering the station has the letter or number of the line on the front and on the side. If there are several lines on a platform, it can be reliably differentiated which subway is to be boarded.

Express / Local Trains

Each line has express and local trains. Local trains stop at every station on the line, express trains only at certain stations (they are therefore generally faster to reach a destination). The stops of the Local Trains are marked on the route maps with a black dot, the stops for Express and Local Trains with white dots or ovals.

Subway entrances

The subway entrances are mostly on street corners, stairs lead down. Entrances for Uptown Subways are usually on the east side, while those for Downtown are on the west side. The station is indicated by a green ball if MetroCards can be bought at the counter or machine. If there is no switch, the station is marked with a red ball. In order to get to the platforms, you have to pass barriers. The MetroCard is pushed through the slot at the top of the barrier. The black stripe of the MetroCard must point to you and the "M" of the word MetroCard must be inserted first. A “GO” will appear and you can pass. There is a car gate next to the barrier for wheelchair users. You have to report to the ticket vendor in the station who opens the autogate. If your MetroCard does not work ("it doesn't work"), you can also use this Autogate after showing the MetroCard.


The trip costs $ 2.25, but you can go anywhere. Payment is made either with the MetroCard or in cash with coins (the money should be "appropriate", no banknotes or pennies). Tokens are no longer accepted.


The subway didn't have a good reputation for years. It was considered unreliable, dirty and dangerous. Today it is officially classified as "safe". If you still have concerns, you should pay particular attention to the following:

  • Do not use remote entrances or exits, but follow the crowd.
  • Do not get into an unlit car or one in which you are the only passenger.
  • Especially at night, do not drive into areas that are off the tourist routes (Bronx, etc.).