Disclaimer: I hate calling the city “the apple”, but I wanted a pun in the title.
Whenever I bring friends unfamiliar with the city into the city, they seem oddly confused by the subway. I always thought that the subway was rather easy to navigate, especially since MTA puts multiple maps in every car. Even after explaining the basics, such as how most trains follow the paths of certain roads, generally avenues in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens Boulevard in Queens, Grand Concourse in the Bronx, and so on, it still doesn’t seem to completely make sense. Since technology seems to make us understand things better (or not, depending on who you ask), here are some apps to make your travels easier throughout the boroughs and beyond a breeze.
My first pick for people who are completely lost, although it is a very generic choice, is Google Maps. If you have no idea where the nearest subway entrance or bus stop is and have no idea what stop is most convenient for your destination, get transit directions on Google Maps. You can change the options to give you the route with the fewest transfers, least walking, or handicap accessibility. You can also set preferences if you prefer the subway to the bus or vice versa.
If you have a decent understanding of MTA routes, and you’re like me, you won’t want complete directions to get to your destination. You already know what stop to get off at and where to walk from there, so you just need to know about delays, detours, and other lovely MTA products. For Android users, MyTransit NYC is the app you need. The first window on the app tells you about subway delays and planned service changes. Scroll right to get similar reports for MTA buses, the LIRR, and Metro-North. Scroll left, and it filters results to only show routes near you. The app can also show you estimated arrival and departure times and route maps. If you use some routes regularly, set up alerts for those trains and buses so you’ll be notified when there’s planned work or random delays. New York Subway – MTA is a similar app for iOS.
Since most people reading this have to cross the Hudson River to get to the city, I have to recommend the NJ Transit app. It’s much easier to use e-tickets than it is to prepare $3.5o exact change before getting on the 126 bus or waiting on long lines at ticket machines inside Port Authority Bus Terminal. Another recommendation is to buy 10-trips for the PATH – each trip is 65 cents cheaper than full price.
Finally, some neat technology for the drivers. Waze continues to be my go-to driving navigation app. It has the most current and extensive traffic data of any app I’ve used, period. However, your biggest problem is likely going to be parking. Fortunately, the Best Parking app is available on both the App Store and Google Play. Before you leave, enter your destination, arrival, and departure times, and see how much you’re going to pay for parking at nearby garages. You can filter your search to only include SUV/minivan lots, lots with EV charging, among other options.
Keep these apps – and your navigation skills in general – handy. You’ll need them for next week’s recommendation.