Tips for Novice Subway Riders

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Some of the world’s greatest cities offer underground transportation to help visitors and residents get around without clogging the streets with traffic. New York City has the subway, London has the Tube, and Paris has the Metro. Taking advantage of the subway systems in these and other cities can help you get from site to site quickly and cheaply, while also giving you a chance to see what transit is like for the locals.

If you’ve never ridden a subway however, they can be a little bewildering, with their spaghetti-like maps, crowds, and noise. Keep the following tips in mind to make riding a subway safe and enjoyable.

– Get a map or an app. Most subway systems offer free print maps, and some provide free apps for smartphones that can help you navigate their systems and timetables. Whether you go the paper route or the digital route, having a map is key to using a subway, as it gives you time to plan your route before entering a busy station.

– Buy your tickets before trying to board; most systems do not sell tickets onboard the trains. Tickets to subway systems come in various forms. Some systems issue paper tickets, while others rely on cards that can be loaded with money and used multiple times. In some cases, the rechargeable cards may be cheaper. Always buy your tickets from official vendors or vending machines and not from individuals around the station, who may be peddling counterfeit wares.

– Prepare for the turnstile. Subway systems often use turnstiles to make sure you pay before you board. You should have your ticket or rechargeable swipe card ready by the time you reach the turnstile to avoid causing a bottleneck.

– Practice good etiquette. Subway etiquette includes letting passengers exit the train before boarding, moving to the center of the car to make room for all passengers, and yielding seats to those who need them the most, like people with disabilities or elderly individuals. If the train is crowded, it’s also considered rude to take up a second seat with your belongings; instead, hold them in your lap or keep them at your feet.

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