By far the biggest question I get when discussing my internship in New York City is, “what’s the trip like?” many people want to know what it’s commuting to NYC using the public transit system, and especially what is like as a teenager. Today I want to talk about what my commute to New York City’s like, so lets get right into it.
The start of my commute begins at my towns train station in Chappaqua. Here (if I don’t already have one) I buy a ticket and a Metrocard through the ATM-like machines. I usually buy two different types of tickets, one for peak hours and one for normal hours. Peak train tickets, when the majority of people are commuting (7-9am and 5-7pm) cost more than normal train tickets (the early morning, late night, and afternoon), and you can save quite a lot of money by buying two different types of tickets. However, conductors will accept Peak tickets for normal hours. Currently, I buy paper tickets, but you can also use your phone to buy tickets, which is probably easier and quicker. After getting tickets, I go out onto the actual platform of the train station, and wait for the train. The train pulls up, and I walk on to it trying to find an empty seat (which is easy to do in midday, but come peak hours very difficult to do).
As I sit down on the train, I have about 50 minutes of commute, to Grand Central Station. In these 50 minutes, I usually get some work done, or read a book. The train stops at many stations – the last stop before GC is Harlem, so when we get to the station I know that I have about 15 minutes left on the train. When the train pulls into Grand Central, I’ve already left my seat and I’m standing by the door, to beat the crowd. As the doors open, I leave the train and walk up the platform (which is underground), and navigate my way to the center of Grand Central Station. As soon as I’m in Grand Central, I walk towards the 42nd Street shuttle, which is a subway station.
After going down some flights of stairs, and a very cool hallway, you get to the turntables where you need to swipe your MetroCard in order to get into the subway. Surprisingly, a lot of seasoned commuters get stuck here because their MetroCards refused to work. I have a MetroCard that automatically refills itself, so I don’t need to worry about not having enough balance on it. You swipe your Metrocard (not too fast and not too slow) through the turntable and then push forwards which allows you to get into the actual station. Once I’m in the station, I head towards the 42nd Street shuttle (usually running to catch it) and hop on. I find that the best car to be on is the standing car, because you have the most room.
The 42nd Street shuttle takes about 3 minutes to get you from Grand Central to Times Square. When the shuttle pulls into the Times Square station, I get off and head up the nearest set of stairs. This either puts me up on 6th Avenue, the center of Times Square, where the corner of 7th. Depending on where I am, I’ll navigate to the right side of 7th Avenue, and walk downtown. I walk for about 10 minutes, until I reach my office which is 7th and 34th Street. I could take the subway (line 7, I think), but I prefer walking because I’m in the open air, and not stuffed into a sardine can.
Once I reach my office, I go on up and start my day.
My commute on a whole takes about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, depending on if there are any delays with the trains or the shuttle. When I go home, it’s the same route, I walked at Time Square take the shuttle to GC and end up at home an hour later. However, the commute home is a little bit different, because it’s very difficult to find seats on the train, especially if I catch one just as it’s leaving (which I usually do). If you can find a seat, consider yourself lucky. It’s very cool, going home at peak hour means that you hear a lot of in5eresting conversations (usually about finance), and meet some very neat people. I try to be as nice and outgoing as I can on the train, and meet as many people as I can.
The general attitude on the train is to keep your head down, and not talk to anybody, but whenever anybody sits near me I introduce myself. If they don’t want to talk, then they’ll just not and go back to what they’re doing, no big loss there. If they want to talk, then we’ll initiate a conversation, and I’ll meet a very interesting person.
In addition to people ask me about my commute to the city, they want to know about the difficulty of it. If it’s your first time going to the city, it will be pretty difficult to understand. However, Grand Central and all the subway stations are very well-marked, and pretty easy to follow with some common sense. Also, if you ever get lost, you can just go up, hail a cab, and get to where you want to go that way. For me, it’s not too difficult or stressful to get around.
I hope this post answered all your questions about my commute to the big apple and the difficulty of it. I think this commute is a great learning experience for me, and I’ve learned some that I think I’ll be using for the rest of my life.