The subway in New York, the “T” in Boston, or the Metro in D.C. No matter what you call it, the public transportation systems in major U.S. cities can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating if you’re not familiar with them. Fortunately, there are some foolproof tips that will make your experience getting from point A to point B a little bit simpler in any metropolis you need to navigate.
Grab a Map
Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist — ending up where you’re supposed to be is totally worth any slight embarrassment that may result from whipping out that handy-dandy map. You can usually pick one up at most subway stations, or the city’s visitors center. If you’re really self-conscious about it, you can always pull up the directions on your phone prior to the ride, and take a screenshot. This technique is not only stealthy, but can be a huge help when you’re underground and lacking service. If all else fails, ask a transit employee. That’s what they’re there for, after all!
Grab a Card
For the easiest and quickest experience, you’ll need to load up a pre-paid card at the station before you board a train. Faster than digging for cash, and you’ll feel like a local.
You can never be too safe, especially in a city that’s new to you. Keep an eye on your possessions at all times, and avoid wearing backpacks or bags that can be easily accessed by pickpockets. Try your best to utilize the buddy system and travel with a friend if you’re out at night.
While you should be aware of your surroundings for your own safety, it’s also important to consider your fellow riders and treat them with respect and courtesy. See an elderly, pregnant, or disabled person? Think about giving them your seat. Listening to music or chatting with your friends is cool. However, keep the tunes and the talk at a reasonable volume. And, while it’s become a bit of a joke on the internet, “manspreading” is a very real thing. Don’t be that guy.