Living in New York?
New York: Local Life and Transport
Humans of New York
New Yorkers are notorious for being unfriendly and sometimes even mean. Despite this popular stereotype, most people in New York are actually quite friendly and obliging, perhaps even more so than one might expect in a city of its size. It is not uncommon for passers-by to stop and offer their help if someone looks lost, or for neighbors to be on friendly, even familiar, terms.
However, friendliness shouldn’t always be mistaken for friendship. While New Yorkers are certainly open and welcoming and will try their best to make you feel at home, relations tend to be somewhat superficial until you really get to know someone well. It is only polite to take an interest in your new acquaintances’ lives, but too personal questions and revelations should be avoided at first.
Hot and Cold: Climate and Weather in NYC
New York City has a humid continental climate, with temperatures regularly reaching, and at times exceeding, 90°F (32°C) in the summer. On days with high humidity, the heat can even seem near-subtropical.
Especially in downtown Manhattan, this is exacerbated by air conditioning units in taxis, offices, and apartment buildings pumping hot air into the atmosphere to maintain constant low temperatures inside. From April to October, the sun shines bright on the Big Apple, but winters are cold and usually come with a mix of snow and rain.
Air pollution and smog can cause problems for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases, and the city government has been working hard to reduce CO2 emissions in recent years. According to the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission, for instance, 60% of New York’s yellow taxi fleet consists of hybrid-electric cars. Similarly, the city runs the largest “green” fleet with more than 2,000 buses running on natural gas rather than gasoline.
No Need for a Car: The Public Transportation System in NYC
The general census is that less than half of all NYC households own a car, which puts the city in quite an exceptional position in the USA. Unlike in most other parts of the country, public transportation is indeed the most popular form of transit in New York, and the majority of the population relies on it for the daily commute.
As to be expected, then, New York does have the best public transportation system in the United States. The extensive subway network operates 24 hours a day, and the large public bus fleet and a commuter rail network serve the suburbs and other parts of the metropolitan area.
The ticketing system is fairly simple. The MetroCard, which can be purchased at most subway stations, is valid for travel on buses and on the subway. It can be recharged and used on a pay-as-you-go basis, or even as a weekly or monthly travel pass.
For more information on New York City’s public transportation, such as fares and timetables, please refer to the website of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Links to all other train or bus operators can be found in the transportation section of the New York City government website.
You should also read our article on public transportation in the USA if you are looking for information on domestic flights, trains, and buses.
For the Sporty Ones: Cycling and Walking
Cycling and walking account for over 10% of all modes of commuting in New York City. Since 2013 the city has its own bike share system, Citi Bike, which has become an essential part of the transportation system. The Citi Bike system currently has 500 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Jersey City and 8,000 bikes. By the end of 2016, Citi Bike plans on expanding their bike fleet to 10,000 bikes and adding new stations in Manhattan, Jersey City, and the Brooklyn neighborhoods.
There are also free cycling maps available from the Department of Transportation and the Department of City Planning. The network of bike paths is, however, rather rudimentary, and riding a bicycle on Manhattan’s streets is not recommended for the inexperienced, casual cyclist.
The Famous Yellow Cabs
Even if you have never been to New York, the sight of a yellow cab on the streets of Manhattan will no doubt feel familiar to you. They are indeed a very popular way of getting around — so popular, in fact, that trying to hail one from the street when it rains can be well-nigh impossible.
To the surprise of many, not all taxi drivers know their way around, as many of them are foreign themselves. So be prepared in case they ask you, their passenger, for directions. Passengers are expected to sit in the back seat (unless there is not enough room) and to give the driver a 10% to 20% tip.
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