Navigating the NYC Subway System with Young Kids

Navigating the NYC Subway System with Children 
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Navigating the NYC Subway System with Young Kids

New York City subways are a bustling network of trains, carrying millions of commuters and tourists daily.

For parents with young children, navigating the subway system can be a constant challenge. We’ve compiled a guide with tips to help parents keep their young children safe and ensure the journey goes as smoothly as possible.

Subway Etiquette

As a parent, we know that safety is always your top priority. Before venturing into the subway, take the time to educate your children about subway etiquette and safety rules.

Explain the importance of standing away from the platform edge, not running on the platform or inside the train, and keeping personal belongings close. For a complete list of MTA’s code of conduct, visit here.

Accessible Stations

Not all subway stations are stroller-friendly or equipped with elevators. Before heading out, plan your route using stations with accessible entrances and exits. Many subway stations have elevators or ramps to assist families with strollers, making it easier to access the platforms safely.

Fortunately, most major stations are now properly equipped. For a list of all accessible stations, visit the MTA accessibility page

Stay Visible and Connected

In the crowded subway environment, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your child at all times. You may have already heard of dressing your child in bright, distinctive clothing to make them easily identifiable in a busy crowd.

It’s a good idea to follow that tip yourself because just as it gives you peace of mind to easily spot your child, it puts your child at ease to easily recognize you. And always reinforce the idea of holding hands with a trusted adult!

Mind the Gap

The subway has gaps between the platform and the train. Exercise caution and make sure your child is aware of these gaps. While boarding and exiting, pay close attention to this gap and assist your children to step on or off the train safely.

Stand away from the edge, especially when waiting for the train, and ensure that your child stays behind the yellow safety line.

Use Apps to Your Advantage

Living in the digital age certainly has its perks. Several mobile apps provide real-time information about subway schedules, service changes, and station maps.

You can use child-friendly apps with interactive features that can engage your child during the journey. These apps can help distract young ones and make the subway ride more enjoyable for everyone.

Avoid Rush Hour

Riding the subway during rush hours can be overwhelming, especially with young children. If possible, travel during off-peak hours to avoid the busiest crowds. Fewer people on the platforms and trains will provide more space for you and your children and reduce the risk of accidents.

Know Current MTA Fares

You never want to be caught off guard by not being able to buy your tickets! The fare for most riders on subways and local, limited, and Select Bus Service buses is currently $2.75. Express buses cost $6.75. Keep in mind that subways do not accept cash.

You can pay your fare with contactless credit/debit cards or a smartphone using OMNY, or the old-fashioned way with a MetroCard. Up to three children under 44 inches tall ride for free when they’re with a fare-paying adult.

Safety and Health

Remember that safety and health go hand in hand. Even if the world wasn’t recovering from a pandemic, public transportation isn’t known for top-notch cleanliness.

It’s always a good idea to encourage your children to wash their hands after going out anywhere, but especially after visiting a crowded place that sees millions of visitors every day. And nothing is quite as handy as hand sanitizer!

Learn About T.R.A.C.K.S.

Together Railroads and Communities Keeping Safe is a joint project between Long Island Rail Road’s Corporate Safety department and the MTA Police to provide age-appropriate, customized railroad safety training to schools, camps, day cares, and other young community groups.

This program is led by the MTA’s kid-friendly mascot, Safety Sam.

Maintain Peace of Mind on the Train

Just like with any stressful situation, going in with a calm mindset will help things go smoothly. Children often pick up on their parents’ emotions.

There is a lot of fear and speculation surrounding NYC subways, but understanding the reality beyond the panic can help ease your anxiety. You might be interested to know that despite the discourse, subway crime accounts for less than 2 percent of all crime citywide. 

“We are very aware of the fear and perception many New Yorkers have in relation to using the subway system,” said NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper at last month’s MTA board meeting. “This is a very real problem and it’s a challenge we are working hard to combat. Our presence on every train line remains intact and our enforcement efforts are up dramatically.”

This year, overall arrests in the subway system are up 52 percent. This increase represents 2,410 more arrests compared to last year. Every borough, every district and every neighborhood are showing increases in arrests from the newly implemented presence of law enforcement.

“Although our crime stats are extremely important to us and we are very encouraged by them, we recognize that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Kemper. “Each day, millions of riders depend on our subway system as a means of transport. And as we’ve repeatedly stated, our riders deserve a safe experience.”

Other Helpful NYC Subway Tips:

  • Preparation is Key: Plan your route in advance and have a subway map handy. Explaining the colors and lines to your kids can turn the journey into a fun learning experience.
  • Stroller Strategy: Strollers can be a bit tricky, but many subway stations have elevators or ramps. Fold up the stroller if needed, and your fellow commuters might lend a helping hand.
  • Keep Them Engaged: Bring along books, puzzles, or their favorite toys to keep them entertained during the ride. Engaged kids mean a smoother subway experience for everyone!
  • Snack Time Success: Pack some snacks and water to keep those little tummies satisfied. Munching on goodies can also serve as a distraction during any delays.
  • Travel Off-Peak: If possible, travel during off-peak hours to avoid the rush and have more space to comfortably navigate with your little explorers.

Psst… Here are some tips to prepare for hurricane season in NYC

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