When it comes to transit fares, New York City, unlike many large cities actually has a pretty simple fare system. It would be nice if more cities would keep their fare structures as straight forward as New York does. For maximum convenience they offer the Metro Card which will save you money off the regular cash fares.
The MetroCard is a magnetic 'smart card' that comes in a Pay-Per-Ride version that will save you .25¢ compared with single cash fares or a 7 or 30 day Unlimited Ride version which provides unlimited rides for a flat rate during the respective time frame. It is valid on all NYC subways and buses, Long Island buses and the Staten Island Railway. There is a $1.00 additional charge when you purchase a new MetroCard for the first time.
The Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard can be used to pay for up to 4 people at a time by swiping it multiple times. With the Unlimited Ride Card each passenger must have their own card. Also note that there is an 18 minute waiting period to reuse the unlimited card at the same subway station or on the same bus route. The video above is worth a thousand words of explaining the purchase and use of the Metro Card.
Keeping it simple for you
For your convenience the table below summarizes NYC transit fares when using a MetroCard. New York has the rather unusual concept of determining eligibility of children for free rides, by their height, rather than their age. A maximum of 3 children under 44 inches tall can ride with a fare paying adult for free. There are no intermediate discounts for children or students beyond this.
|New York Metro Card Transit Fares||Adult||Children under 44 inches tall|
|Single trip local fare - includes one free transfer within 2 hours (Bus to Subway, Subway to Bus and Bus to Bus if direction is the same).||3.00 ($2.75 with Metrocard)||Free with Adult|
|Express Bus Fare||$6.50||Only infants under 2 are free|
|7-Day Unlimited (Doesn't Include Express Buses)||$32.00||Free with Adult|
|30-Day Unlimited (Doesn't Include Express Buses)||$121.00||Free with Adult|
You can visit MTA Fares at a Glance for more information.
Where to Purchase: You can purchase a Metro Card from vending machines located at many stations, from subway station booths or from neighouhood stores that display the MetroCard sold here sign.
Prior to swiping your MetroCard at a subway station, make certain you are at the entrance for the direction want to travel, as many stations have a separate entrance for each direction of service. There are no refunds if you swipe at the wrong entrance.
Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad: Both of these regional railroads have a fare system that is separate from the rest of New York system. Fares are determined by the number of zones travelled and the time of day. You can purchase your fare onboard for cash only, however you will pay a hefty service charge, so be sure to purchase your fare before boarding at a ticket booth.
You can download a PDF fare table and Zone Map for either railway from the links below.
PDF Download: Long Island Railroad Fare Table
Staten Island Ferry: The Staton Island Ferry is free for all passengers.
NY Waterway The NY Waterway is a private ferry service that operates from numerous points around Manhattan providing both scheduled commuter service and tours. For information on fares visit their website: NY Waterway.