All the Different Ways You Can Commute to New York City

Benjamin Korman
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You’re about to start a new job in NYC. Now it’s time for the real challenge—figuring out your commute. These tips will help you plan the best (and least-stressful) way to get to the office on time and in one piece. Here are some options:

By Subway/Bus

If you live within the five boroughs, the subway is your best bet—the average underground commute is about 40 minutes, but it depends on which neighborhood you call home. Check out this interactive map to get an idea of how long your trip will take.

Buses are also a reliable—and often underused—resource. Each bus is equipped with a GPS, and you can use this site to see how far they are from your stop.

Cost: $2.75 per ride; $121 for an unlimited 30-day MetroCard.

By Bike

For those who are able, there is no better way to get to work than by bike. There are more than 1,133 miles of bike routes in NYC. And biking to work can be a real “breath of fresh air” after years spent riding the train.

Don’t have your own wheels? Jump onto a Citi Bike. Pay with your credit card at the dock, or sign up for a membership.

Cost: Citi $169 Citi Bike membership annually; $3 per ride.

By Car

Driving to work in NYC is ill-advised. But if you have no other choice, here’s the low-down on getting to work behind the wheel:

During rush hour, every route into Manhattan will be backed up, with the Holland and Lincoln tunnels serving the worst wait times. It’s not unusual to sit on the highway in Staten Island for 2 hours before making it to Brooklyn, much less Manhattan. And headed cross-town? Fuggedaboudit. You’ll be lucky if you can cross from river to river in under 20 minutes.

Don’t forget about cabs. Yellow cabs charge $2.50 fee and 40¢ for each additional minute. You can also use ride-sharing apps like Uber, Lyft, Juno, or Via. A ride can cost as little as a few dollars, but rush-hour surge pricing can go as high as $40+.

To get the behind the wheel, check out Car2Go, which lets you rent a smart car for 41¢ a minute.

Cost: Routes through the Hudson River: $15 toll; tunnels through the East River: $8.50 toll.

By Ferry

For residents of Staten Island, the ferry is the way to go. The 25-minute trip to Manhattan’s Financial District leaves every 15 minutes during rush hour.

Cost: Free

NYC also offers a series of ferries that will take you from locations along the outer borough and New Jersey coasts to busy points around Manhattan. And you can bring your bike.

Cost: $2.75; +$1 with a bike. Monthly passes cost $121 or $141 with bike access.

By PATH

If you’ve decided to settle down in Jersey City, Hoboken, or Newark, you can hop on the PATH, which travels along 6th Avenue to  Midtown and the World Trade Center. A commute from the terminus at Newark to Penn Station takes 30 minutes. A trip from Jersey City could be as little as 5.

Cost: $2.75

By Metro-North or Long Island Rail Road

Working in NYC doesn’t have to mean city life. Commuter rails are essential for suburbanites. Here’s what the MTA has to offer:

The five Metro-North lines, venture north into Westchester, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Connecticut.  An express commute from Westchester Grand Central Station will take 30 to 55 minutes, while a journey from the Poughkeepsie, Wassaic, or New Haven will take two hours. Many Bronx residents ride Metro-North for crowd-free commutes to midtown.

The Long Island Railroad stretches from NYC’s Penn Station to the very ends of Long Island. Commute times from nearby Nassau County average 30 – 40 minutes, while a trip to Montauk will take 3 hours.

Cost: $6.75 – $24.75.

By NJ Transit

NJ Transit is the most comprehensive transit system for the Jersey-bound, and will take you anywhere in the state from neighboring suburbs to Trenton, Atlantic City, and Philadelphia.

Cost: varies by route. Bus tickets range from $1.85 to $48.50; Train tickets range from $4.25 to $16+

By Amtrak, Greyhound, BoltBus, MegaBus or Chinatown Bus

Perhaps you live somewhere else entirely, like Philadelphia, Boston, or Washington D.C. Here are some options for you:

Amtrak. This is nicest (and most expensive) way to get in. Trips from Boston or Washington DC take a little under 3 hours, and you can get in from Philadelphia in less than an hour and a half.

Cost: Advance tickets will run you about $70; at the station, $200 or more. They also offer multi-ride passes.

Boltbus & Megabus. These busses are inexpensive and reliable– and they provide a steady trip time (2 hours to Philadelphia, and 4 hours to Boston or DC). Definitely the most reasonable option.

Cost: about $10 – 60

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 20, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Benjamin Korman

Benjamin is a New York City-based writer.
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