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Old 04-07-2010, 04:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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New York Tips and Tricks

With Keith's Stand-up and other events occuring next week, I was curious if anyone had any interesting bits of information to share for myself and any other newcomers. This is a good opportunity to share with fellow KATGers things that you wish someone had mentioned when you first showed up, or those of us who have never been can ask any simple, but specific questions.

Questions like:

How do I go about hailing a cab? Is it like tv where I just put out my hand and lunge for the door of a stopped cab before someone steals it?

If I try to hail a cab and a grey 1991 Nissan Altima with a cardboard sign with "Ian's Cab" taped to the roof pulls up, should I get in?

How much am I supposed to tip a cab driver? Is it percantage-based or a set amount (like $1) per block?

Should I get a metro card or can I pay cash/tokens to ride the subway? Can you even use anything besides a metro card these days?

If my hotel is known to contain numerous Canadian narcoleptic smokers, is it safe to leave my valuables in my room?


Preferably you have done some research before asking, but if you can't find any trustworthy sources or don't mind your obvious question being ignored, go ahead and ask it. Or if you have valuable insight that you want to share so someone doesn't end up in Central Park at 11pm dressed in an Elmo suit without their wallet or keys, like your first time in NYC, let the rest of us know.

My question: I know tipping cab drivers seems to be the standard 15-20%, but did people buy 1-day subway passes and end up using it twice or did they drop $20 on a prepaid card and wish they had just gotten a day pass each day?

Also, Empire State Building - worth it to say you did it or not really?
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Old 04-07-2010, 05:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i don't know how to answer transportation questions, but the empire state building is a waste of time. you have to wait in line forever, crowd into an elevator with a bunch of smelly tourists, and then when you finally get to the top, you can't really see very well because there are bars all around so nobody can jump off. don't waste your time/money.
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I always got a metro card for the week when I visit because the subway system is amazing and easy to use I think even if you only use it for two trips a day you are already saving money vs paying each ride but don't quote me on that.

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Originally Posted by shantastic View Post
i don't know how to answer transportation questions, but the empire state building is a waste of time. you have to wait in line forever, crowd into an elevator with a bunch of smelly tourists, and then when you finally get to the top, you can't really see very well because there are bars all around so nobody can jump off. don't waste your time/money.
I agree the Empire State is not worth it but I highly recommend the Top of the Rock/Rockefeller Center: still a lot of tourists but no bars to block the great view. Try and find out the time for sunset so you can go when the sun is still up and you get both the day and nigh view at once - amazing!
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Life's too short to worry about crap.

So buy a 7 day subway card, it's in the ballpark of $25. You've done that, now load the subway maps onto your ipod and grab a paper map when you see one. Done and done, you are now able to get around NYC entirely without the aid of a cab.

Oh, but maybe you won't get your money's worth, you wonder? When you rush down the steps and see that the train is coming and it's after midnight(meaning the next train won't be for 20+ minutes), you didn't miss it trying to buy a single subway pass from the machine or inattentive booth worker. What's that worth?

Some people, they spend their life running. They run to catch a crosswalk light. They run to catch the train. They run to catch the ferry. They run to to do all sorts of things, things they would just miss if they hadn't run. They arrive everywhere 30 seconds faster! But what sort of life is that? Be prepared, don't run, enjoy life. Done and done.
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Altruism View Post

Questions like:

How do I go about hailing a cab? Is it like tv where I just put out my hand and lunge for the door of a stopped cab before someone steals it?
NY has tons of cabs, so hailing one shouldn't be that difficult. Cabs have lights at the top. Middle (medallion #)-on duty, all lights-off duty, no lights-in use by customers/passengers. Make yourself known; just standing there looking displaced won't aid you - do the cliché arm signal. Cash only used to be the universal currency, but now they accept credit/debit cards (see more: NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission)

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If I try to hail a cab and a grey 1991 Nissan Altima with a cardboard sign with "Ian's Cab" taped to the roof pulls up, should I get in?
All cabs are yellow, don't be silly. If it isn't, it's a private car and it isn't yours.

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How much am I supposed to tip a cab driver? Is it percentage-based or a set amount (like $1) per block?
Treat it as you would when paying for a restaurant meal, 20% minimum is considered typical. Giving more is an entirely circumstantial (and personal) decision. If you're rattling on to the driver about the same shit every other passenger does, it's nice to give a little extra for them putting up with you. If you ask the driver to wait (which they do not have to, by law; the meter runs slower when the car is idle than running so if they were waiting for every passenger, they would be losing money ultimately), compensate them for it.

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Should I get a metro card or can I pay cash/tokens to ride the subway? Can you even use anything besides a metro card these days?
I am staying for four days, so I am getting a 7-day unlimited metro card for $25. NY has a huge subway system that connects to almost everything (except LaGuardia, bah!), so you would be making worth your while. It applies to buses as well obviously. EZPass is entirely separate and used for tolls.

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If my hotel is known to contain numerous Canadian narcoleptic smokers, is it safe to leave my valuables in my room?
I trust nobody with my items, but this is a personal decision. After all, they're Canadians... harmless!

Quote:
My question: I know tipping cab drivers seems to be the standard 15-20%, but did people buy 1-day subway passes and end up using it twice or did they drop $20 on a prepaid card and wish they had just gotten a day pass each day?
As stated above, I am personally getting an unlimited metrocard; I find it will be useful when getting around the city. Costs will rack up big time if you are constantly buying tokens. Pay-per-ride metrocards start at $2; if you're going to be traversing the city the entire time you stay, you're looking at costs well beyond what you expected. The big problem with unlimited metrocards is that you cannot use the same card at the same station or bus route for 18 minutes (probably to prevent abuse and letting your dozen friends through on the same card), so know where you want to go beforehand. I've done the "oh shit, wrong station, *turn on heel*" thing at the stations in my city where they have a nearly identical setup. If you want comparisons: MTA/New York City Transit - Unlimited Ride vs. Pay-Per-Ride (Regular) MetroCard

There is also the option of a 1-day "fun pass" for $8.25. This allows you unlimited subway/bus from first use until 3 a.m. the next day.

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Also, Empire State Building - worth it to say you did it or not really?
Cliché tourist spot. Visit the MOMA, you'll be better off.
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by spooky View Post
Some people, they spend their life running. They run to catch a crosswalk light. They run to catch the train. They run to catch the ferry. They run to to do all sorts of things, things they would just miss if they hadn't run. They arrive everywhere 30 seconds faster! But what sort of life is that? Be prepared, don't run, enjoy life. Done and done.
Is a NY state of mind since we can say, for the most part, our public transportation is spot on.
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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All cabs are yellow, don't be silly. If it isn't, it's a private car and it isn't yours.
There are also Lincoln town cars which is a little more classier. They do not run with the meter letting you know how much your rate is up to though.
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shantastic View Post
i don't know how to answer transportation questions, but the empire state building is a waste of time. you have to wait in line forever, crowd into an elevator with a bunch of smelly tourists, and then when you finally get to the top, you can't really see very well because there are bars all around so nobody can jump off. don't waste your time/money.
This doesn't even begin to describe how terribly awful the Empire State experience is. First they trick you into thinking it won't take long by getting you inside the building relatively quickly. But then you find yourself in a long winding queue to get through security checks, then another queue for the tickets, a queue that leads to a photographer, a queue for the elevator, a walk up at least four flights of stairs (in lieu of yet another queue for an elevator), a standing room only crowd at the top, a less than impressive view and, just when you have had enough ... a queue for the elevator down again and a forced exit though a gift shop. I've blocked out exactly how long it took, but I'm confident I'm not exaggerating when I say it was at least four hours from joining the line to making it outside at the top. Don't go.
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I hear there are some places in NY to get clothes on the cheep? I'm looking to buy some nice but not $100 dressy shirts. Where in NY will I best be able to find cheep apparel, I don't ming if it's made with slave labour either.
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:32 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I hear there are some places in NY to get clothes on the cheep? I'm looking to buy some nice but not $100 dressy shirts. Where in NY will I best be able to find cheep apparel, I don't ming if it's made with slave labour either.
Macys......
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