A Parent’s Guide to NYC Transportation

IMG_3895City living can either be amazing or awful. Some days it’s both. But one thing that will ruin your day faster than a diaper blowout with no baby wipes in your bag is not preparing in advance for getting around the city with your little one in tow. Public transportation is here to help you navigate the city easily, though, not always effortlessly—especially when you find yourself carrying a stroller, diaper bag and baby. Here is a simple guide to New York City transportation that will make even a tourist a pro!

1. The subway

The infamous NYC subway. You don’t earn your New York City parenting badge until you’ve conquered the underground system with 50 pounds of stroller and baby—alone. The subway does have its perks: it’s fast, the rocking usually lulls babies to sleep, and it is relatively convenient. However, it’s always better to map out your trip when taking the subway to try and eliminate as many steps as possible. I personally find it easier to get off one stop early and walk a few block more above ground than to transfer trains (think tight, smelly and hot stairs) underground. Proper etiquette for entering the turnstiles: You must leave your child and stroller at the emergency exit door while you swipe through the turnstile yourself, and then proceed to open the door from the platform side and pull them through. Non-parents may look at you like you are abandoning your child, but it’s all part of the experience. Just make sure after all this effort you get on the correct train. Nothing is worse than realizing you’re heading uptown when you’re supposed to be in Battery Park City. Been there, done that.

Downside: Not all stations have elevators, so prepare to do some heavy lifting. Also accept the fact that at some point there will be a rat within a few feet of your precious cargo.

Tip: The west side trains in Manhattan are typically less crowded than the east side trains (we’re waiting for the Second Avenue line to open in 2016!).

2. The bus

The bus tends to get a bad rep, but it’s actually one of our favorites. It’s always clean, less crowded (and cooler) than the subways, and you’re above ground—meaning you still have cell phone service (hello wifi and YouTube!). The only thing that tends to be tricky is figuring out where to get on and get off. My suggestion: Download the MTA app. It has a map that shows you the bus routes, and even times of when the bus will arrive. Or check the little boxes attached to every bus stop—they list the times and stops for the bus route too.

Downside: The waiting outside. If it’s raining or snowing you’ll be enduring the weather until the bus shows up—and sometimes that can feel like forever. And you must fold up strollers. Unlike the subway, you cannot leave a child in a stroller—even if your baby is sleeping. You’ll have to wake them up to compact the carrier.

Tip: Try the crosstown buses. Everyone complains how hard it is to get from east to west in the city (since most subways run north and south), but you can always grab a bus.

3. Cabs

At some point, you will need to take a cab—it may be because you’re just too tired to wait for a bus or subway, or you’re running late. You may be asking yourself: “But taxis don’t have car seats.” You’re right, they don’t and it’s actually legal to take children in New York City cabs without car seats. (Make sure to hold them tight and, if they’re old enough, buckle them in the cab’s seat belts.) Yellow cabs are required by law to take you wherever you need to go—including the boroughs—but they sometimes give you a hard time about out-of-Manhattan trips. Green cabs are new to the city—they’re similar to yellow cabs, but are available in the outer boroughs and certain parts of Manhattan only.

Downside: Cabs can be expensive (especially if you get stuck in traffic). Also, if you’re not comfortable taking your child in a car without a car seat, reread options #1 and #2 above.

Tip: It’s easier to hail cabs on the Avenues (and during non rush hour times). If you’re on a numbered street, walk a block to your closest main intersection to hail a cab. Most Avenues are one-way, so before you start walking, make sure you are heading to the Avenue that is going your way.

4. App car service

The newest form of transportation on the block is virtual cab hailing. These services are life-changing—not only can you hail a black car from the touch of your phone in the comfort of your own home (think not having to stand on the corner waving down a cab in the rain), but they also allow you to hail a taxi. (Uber charges an additional fee to have a yellow or green cab pull up right in front of your door.) Plus, the drivers (and passengers, so be nice!) are all rated on a five-star scale, meaning they will take you wherever you need to go without argument, and even pick up your stroller and put it in the trunk for you.

Downside: If you are trying to hail a car during peak hours, it can cost you three to five times the original rate. Yes, that means an average trip from Manhattan to Astoria can run you up to $75!

Tip: Uber NYC has multiple options, such as requesting a car with car seat (additional $10 and part of the company’s uberFAMILY plan), hailing a regular taxi instead of a black car, or even asking for a large SUV (think lots of luggage if you’re heading to the airport).

5. Rental car memberships

Every time I tell my non-city friends that I have a car rental membership, they laugh. It really is, though, every city dwellers dream car situation. Instead of paying hundreds each month for parking, insurance, and gas (all in the hopes that someone won’t hit or steal your precious auto), you can have access to multiple vehicles parked and ready to drive near you. Usually these services are cheap (around $12 to 18 per hour) which also includes gas and insurance.

Downside: No car seats. That means you have to lug your own, plus a stroller and baby/toddler to the car. If I plan to rent a car on my own with baby-in-tow, I usually have to take a cab to the rental car and back. This can tack on extra costs, so try to plan to pick up the car while someone can watch the baby, or with an extra pair of hands to carry everything.

Tip: I’m a fan of Zip Car—it’s the original and best in the city. You can get a membership for only $60 per year, and we’ve personally been able to find lots of available vehicles at various times throughout the five boroughs. However, I would recommend reserving a car in advance if you plan to take one out on the weekend.

What type of NYC transportation have you used with your little one? 

 This article was originally posted on MommyNearest.com.

By | 2017-11-18T12:55:24+00:00 March 17th, 2015|attractions, Growing Up Astoria, Kid Friendly New York City, Motherhood|Comments Off on A Parent’s Guide to NYC Transportation

About the Author:

Stephanie Barnhart is an award-winning blogger, columnist, and outdoor enthusiast writer featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and other media outlets. She is also the NYC Editor for MommyNearest.com.