Wednesday, August 15, 2012

GET LOST: A New York Tour Guide's Guide to New York #12c


While there is very little subway crime these days, especially if you're not being stupid, buses have always had far less of it. Very late at night, this is a good cheap option because you can stay above ground. They may run extremely infrequently which is more of a pain if it's cold or bad weather. Mostly I mean wind and/or rain; subway stations are not climate controlled and can be hotter than outside in summer and just as cold in the winter. During the daytime, buses have the benefit over the subways that you can see more of the city's sights. Despite some dedicated bus lanes, however, buses are a very slow at getting you from point A to B due to traffic. In some cases, I'd even double my expected travel time.

Nonetheless, buses are indispensable for traveling crosstown (east/west). In addition to the diagonally oriented Broadway trains, there are really only three places to get east or west by subway: 14th, 42nd, and 57th Streets. The only other way is above ground. Especially where the island is divided by Central Park, it can actually be surprisingly fast and convenient by bus. Most times of the day, crosstown traffic zooms right through the park, covering two avenues of distance in about half the time it would take further downtown. The trip across the park by vehicle is not particularly scenic. The park's roadways are sunken below ground so as to not disturb its peaceful qualities. The trip across on foot is what you want if seeing the park itself is your goal.

Buses also get you much closer to a lot of destinations than the trains do. The north/south buses are extremely helpful for the great expanse east of Central Park. Although it's mostly residential, anyway, this area is served by only one subway line, the 4, 5, and 6. That's it, at least until the new Second Avenue line is complete in the year 4637. The Lexington Avenue trains can require walking many, many blocks to find the nearest station. Even if you have a pay-by-ride Metrocard, transferring from subway to bus and/or back again is a free transfer. It will often make good sense to use both forms of transport in a combination.

This is a discussion of the New York City public transit bus system. I'm not talking about the double-decker tour buses. Although I've never been on one, and actually wouldn't be caught dead on one, I must say I cannot imagine why anyone uses them. I'm sure I will convince no one who is already bent on utilizing this service for whatever reason. The hoards of people pouring out of those buses wearing plastic trashbags because they're sitting on the open-air top level of a tour bus in the middle of a freezing rainstorm look so completely idiotic, I can think of no money savings or convenience to using them that would be worth it. Personally, I would much, much rather go through the trouble of figuring out the public bus system (which is not rocket science, mind you). It may actually be cheaper in the long run, if planned properly, and far, far more civilized, relatively speaking.

©2012, Ryan Witte

12d. Taxi Cabs