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Monday, August 13, 2012

TRAVEL TIPS--GETTING AROUND NEW YORK


photo by Hyku (inhabit.com)

With parking fees ever on the rise, a shortage of on-the-street parking, a dismally clogged traffic pattern, and the inability to visit more than one section without moving your car, public transportation works beautifully.  Negotiating New York City’s transit system isn’t really an intimidating task thanks to some helpful websites and available apps to aid you on the go. 

As I write this, the cost of a single ride ticket is $2.50.  If you have a metro card, it is $2.25.  For more information on fares and your choices, go to http://www.mta.info/default.html.  This is a very good site which includes a trip planner and an explanation of how to use the metro cards in the subway and on busses.  It also deals with the Long Island Railroad, Staten Island, and MTA, so you can see how easily you can come in to the city.  You find all the information you need as well as a trip planner for directions. 

Tickets and Metrocards are available in subway stations for cash or credit.  Metrocard or exact fare is necessary on the bus. I add that if you have any problem or question at the Metrocard vending machines in the subway stations, some New Yorker is always ready to help in a friendly way, so don’t be shy.  Once you use the system once, you’ll feel like an old hand.

I’ve begun using the MTA’s New Jersey Transit to come into the city.  Parking is significantly cheaper; I travel out of peak hours so I have a comfortable ride to and fro (which gives me time to read or snooze), and I experience no angst caused by the fear of being late, being stuck in traffic, etc. etc.

 If you are looking for directions within the city, at the very top of my list is http://hopstop.com and its free companion phone apps.  It’s the best for all around ease of navigating both their site and the city.  It’s the place to go for directions.  Simply enter your starting and ending locations and voilĂ , you have a helping hand every step of the way—including estimated times. 

The site has a wonderful feature called “Smart Route” if you want to compare options for getting from one place to the next.  Once you fill in the start and end information, HopStop lists several options.  Take a bus or a train or choose to walk. You can even search wheelchair/stroller friendly routes.  There are taxi estimates as well as private car services.  But if you know your mode of transportation, simply disable it, and you’ll get just what you are looking for.  It works as a phone app as well, so if you are in the city and wish to go to another destination, just go to HopStop.

HopStop is definitely user friendly.  Not only can you get directions but also transit maps and schedules, and, if you use their city guide, directions to restaurants and special sights to see. 

If you insist on driving in to the city, you can avoid exorbitant parking garage fees by using Best Parking at http://www.bestparking.com. I am giving you the link to their home page, and you will see that this site encompasses far more than New York City.  But I have saved a lot of money through this site by checking before I leave my home, printing off the guaranteed price, and presenting it at the garage.  Recently the difference was $10.00 between the Best Parking price and the garage’s posted price.

Once again, the site is easy to negotiate, has a phone app that is not quite as reliable, I’ve found, but still worth trying, and will definitely save you money.  That leaves you more to spend on something enjoyable.  Works for me!
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