New Yorkers: Walking vs. Bus vs. Subway vs. Cab

This is for the NYC denizens:

What determines when you walk, take the bus, the subway or a cab? Does distance, neighborhood and time of day factor in? How do you choose?

yes to all.
Example, I would take a cab home after midnight, otherwise I would take the subway. If I was with 2-3 other people, it might make better sense financially to take a cab, unless traffic was really bad for some reason, then the subway would be better. Some neighborhoods are not served conveniently by the subway, so you end up walking there, or getting a cab if you’re in a rush. Also, if I’m wearing dress shoes or its really hot out and I’m supposed to arrive where I’m going looking good, I might take a cab because the subway has a disheveling effect in the summer.

I almost never take the bus in Manhattan. For certain crosstown trips, it does make a lot of sense but usually I’d just walk (relatively few subways go across manhattan, and none above 50th street). In Brooklyn I’d take the bus as the stops are usually closer to my house.

New Yorkers walk alot. It’s a 10 block (~1/2 mile) uphill walk to the nearest subway stop where I grew up. I have also been known to walk great distances "just cause I felt like it " (like, Metropolitan Museum to Theater district, 40 blocks) . Or Wall street area to Grand Central Station (also proably 40 blocks).

Another reason to walk is that you want to stop at various shops or destinations that are spaced rather evenly along a long route.
Example, let’s say I take the 4 to 23rd. I Go to the tack store on 24th street. I walk South to Union Square. I go to farmer’s market. I walk South to the Strand. Shop for books. I walk South to chinatown. Buy chinese vegetables. I get on train and head home. I think that has to be 30 or 40 blocks all told. but with 4 stops along the way it doesn’t make much sense to wait for the subway.

Also bear in mind that some of us formed our subway habits when there was no unlimited pass available (such as the unlimited weekly or monthly pass). So, not every trip was worth the 75cents/1.00/1.15/1.25 etc it would take to get on the subway and go 5 or 10 blocks.

Number of beers is certainly a factor.

How far away is it? How quickly do I have to be there? Is it snowing? Is it hot?

My preferences go like this: Walk. If it’s too far to walk, take a bus. Too far or too inconvenient by bus, subway. Too far/ fancy/ late/ tired, have my husband drive me.

Yeah, we have a car in the city. It’s only our second. We’ve been married 19 years and only just bought our first car 3 years ago. My husband loves it. Mostly it is a big ole money pit if you ask me but nothing beats it for getting away from here with the kids.

Forgot to add–

The subway trumps all when it is snowing.

I take the subway most of the time. I live pretty close to a station and I’m lucky that that train runs right to my office.

Late at night I may cab it home but that costs 15-20 bucks so I have to be flush with cash.

I very rarely take the bus, I’m not sure why but I just don’t like it. The bus route map looks really complicated and I’m too shy to ask for help.

I will walk quite a bit. Unless it is hot and humid, like today. Or if it is raining or sleeting. I don’t mind the snow. I love the city when it snows. I will usually walk if the subway ride is three stops or less and I’m not in any hurry. I also don’t like to transfer between trains. So I will walk past a subway stop to get to a line that runs direct to where I’m going.

For longer trips the subway is the fastest way to go.

What is this bus of which you speak?

Walking is my #1 choice for getting around. It’s fast, convenient, free, and fun. Like Hello Again, I’ll walk for many miles without a thought, either because I have the time, or because I have a lot of things to do on the way. I’ve rarely felt uncomfortable in Manhattan at any time of day or night, so that’s not really a factor. After dark, I’m more likely to stick to well-traveled streets, however.

If it’s just too far, I’ll take the subway.

I’ll only take a cab if there’s some particular reason to do so, like if I’m carrying something bulky and heavy, or if I’m very dressed up. Actually, even then I’ll probably just take the subway anyway. It just doesn’t occur to me to take a cab. It’s usually faster and cheaper to just take the subway. Of course, if I’m with someone of limited mobility, the cab’s door-to-door convenience is worth it.

I almost never get on a bus. They’re slow and annoying. As Hello Again said, they provide much better crosstown service than the subways, but Manhattan is narrow enough that a crosstown trip is easily walkable for me.

I know a lot of people who live in the outer boroughs take express buses, or depend on the bus because the subway is spread thinner there. I’ll just take my car if I’m going someplace without good subway service.

My mom was stuck underground on a stifling summer day for 6 hours in the blackout of 1964. She avoided the subway for years, and took the bus in Manhattan. But in the last decade or so, she’s reverted to the subway, because Manhattan buses just suck.

OK, I don’t live in New York City, but when I visit:

I walk if it’s only about five blocks. If it’s more, I take the subway because it’s cheaper than a cab, and usually more entertaining. Plus, people don’t smoke on the subway, and I can’t tell you how many nasty-smelling taxis I’ve ridden in there. But, if I’m buzzed and traveling with friends, we might split a cab. I never ride the bus.

If it’s within about 20 blocks, I’ll walk. If it’s nice out, and I have time, extend that indefinitely.

The bus is for crosstown trips, mostly from the 4-5-6 to my home, which saves walking a few long blocks. It’s nice with the free transfer, if the bus is readily available, I won’t wait for a bus to save a 5 minute walk. If traffic is light, and I’m on 1st ave, I’ll take a bus up, rather than walk all the way over to Lexington to take the 4-5-6 just to walk all the way back when I get uptown. The buses are actually fairly nice.

The subway is for any longer trip.

I’ve lived here over a year and took a cab maybe twice.

Raining: whatever’s nearest, bus or subway

In immense hurry and/or complex route with heavy packages: cab

< 10 blocks or in mood: walk

All else: subway

I’ll walk for most things, unless it’s > 2 miles, or raining. Other than that, subway.

I haven’t taken a Manhattan bus in years, but my girlfriend convinced me to take a Queens bus a few months ago. I don’t think that will be happening again soon.

The only time I’ll take a cab is home from the airport, or if it’s real late and I’ve missed the LIRR to Forest Hills. Those local subways at night are a bitch.

I live near the Queensborough bridge, so subway service isn’t great. Neither is bus service, since it gets jammed by cars heading for either the bridge or the FDR…

Therefore if I’m travelling solo, I usually jump on my bicycle (Manhattan is a great biking city IMHO, mostly because of all the nutjob couriers and delivery guys). No gridlock, no waiting, no fares.

If it’s a trip under 30 blocks N/S and I’m not in a rush, I’ll walk. More than that and I’ll take the subway as my first choice, but if pressed for time or tired I’ll take a cab.

If I’m with friends, we’ll do a cost/time analysis for subway v. cabs to decide what to do as a group.

I’ve taken a cross-town bus a couple times, but only took one southbound once-- big mistake.

I have yet to take a cab with Babyrian, but have walked lengthy distances carrying her, and taken her in the subway down to Canal. Haven’t used her carseat yet (which is required for taking cabs).

The bus is an necessary evil, one to be avoided if at all possible. As for transportation choice, I use them all, depending on environmental conditions, general state of feeling, time of day, cash situation, available, and/or how I’m dressed.

You forgot bicycle. I’ll bike down Riverside Drive on nice evenings from the 140s even down to the Village. There’s some kind of bike path most of the way, and it’s really quite pleasant. At night it’s a little underlit in spots. Biking on the streets I avoid.

I will walk 30 or 40 blocks quite often, as many as 100+ in a single marathon about once a year or so. The subway is for most trips downtown and to Queens or Brooklyn. The bus is theoretically handier for simultaneously going downtown and crosstown, but if it’s anywhere near rush hour I’ll just take the train downtown and walk crosstown. Also, I know the routes and names of maybe 3 bus lines. Go to the MTA’s website ( and check out the bus map PDF.

Since I stopped dating a really fancy investment banker a few years ago, I’m in cab perhaps twice a year. It seems like an indulgence to me. A few months ago I took a cab home because the 9 train blew up in the 96th Street station while I was waiting for the transfer, and it was late and raining and I didn’t feel like walking 50 blocks.

I never take the bus. It’s just not convenient for my customary destinations.

I fairly recently moved to Long Island (where really it’s a driving a car situation), but when I lived in the 5 boroughs, it was always either walk or subway or some combination thereof.

The only times I really take a cab are if I’m in a tearing hurry, dressed really nicely or carrying bulky items a fair distance.

What are you talking about? The E cuts across Manhattan on 51st street. :wink:

Me? I like to walk, it’s the only time I get to think. Kind of funny that walking through swaths of people is the only time I get a little “alone” time, but it’s true. When I need to move quick though, I utilize the subway, and my 18 minute metrocard. Sometimes it’s better to exit the system and “transfer” above ground to another line, because they normally wouldn’t cross paths. For example, I catch the G at Hoyt to go home. I can take the A/C to Hoyt and walk across the platform to the G, or I can take 2/3 to Hoyt (same name station, but two blocks away), and transfer “above ground”. I’ve spent way too much time trying to prove how NY savy I am.

Well having lived here for a week now i have found its pretty easy just to walk everywhere in Manhattan, just as i used to do in London.

I usually subway it, as I normally travel big distances in one trip, and then walk to various destinations before subwaying it back to East Harlem. However, I do a LOT of walking during the day (2-4 miles), unless it’s snowing, in which case, I’ll take the subway even one stop.

I too, avoid the bus at all costs. Slow as hell.

Yeah, the bus is slow, but it’s great for catching up on my book reading. I really don’t get to read otherwise. Sometimes I just like looking out the window and listening to music. I find the bus genuinely enjoyable a lot of the time. You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about.

I live about 100 feet from the east river, so the subway’s about a 15 minute walk. I use it sometimes but going to work I’ll mainly take the bus or walk. No matter how I do it, walk, subway, or bus, it takes me 40-50 minutes to get to work. The only reliably quicker way is to ride a bicycle. Then it takes 20 minutes, but by the time I get to work I’m in a lather.

On weekends, getting around with the family is usually on foot.

Cabs are for if I’m in a terrible hurry, or if I simply don’t want to deal with mass transportation, like if I’m at my sister’s and it’s late and it’s a 10 minute cab ride vs. 45 mins on buses with two fussy little girls.

For buses, after a while you pretty much learn which route runs best at which time.

I live a block away from a subway stop and therefore take the subway everywhere when possible. I have no problem riding at all hours of the night and have never been mugged, beaten or murdered down there.

Obviously when you take the subway it will necessarily involve some amount of walking to get to the final destination.

Taxis are a ripoff and I only take them if I’m in a hurry and don’t want to walk, or if I’m carrying heavy objects.

I think I’ve taken the bus maybe five times since I moved here.