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Travel from JFK to downtown New York

by bzulu67 Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 5:34 AM

I will be arriving at JFK on a Sunday at 19:55 terminal 4. I plan to take the airtrain to Jamaica station, then I will take the Subway to get me somewhere near to my hotel (the Econo Lodge at 302 West 47th street). Is the Subway the same as the Metro, just a different name?
Looking at the airtrain map, it looks as if I need the subway/Metro line LIRR from Jamaica to say 50th street Subway/Metro station, then a short walk back to my hotel. Am I correct in what I've assumed, or would I need to take the E line from Jamaica. How long does it take the Subway/Metro to get from Jamaica to my destination and how often does it run. Presume I pay the fare at Jamaica?

Many thanks,
Keith

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13 Answers
  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by leics Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    Yes, the NYC 'subway' is, in effect, the same as the European Metro or the Tube. Some parts are overground but much is underground.

    You can see a map and info on the official subway site here:

    http://www.mta.info/

    The trip planner here:

    tripplanner.mta.info/MyTrip/...

    will give you itineraries, itinerary details and fares. You are looking at around 40-45 mins from Jamaica.

    Don't expect to be landside at JFK much before 2055 at the earliest. Queues at immigration/border control can be very long.

    After a long flight, and given that it will be quite late into the evening, you might prefer to take a taxi or a shuttle service:

    panynj.gov/airports/jfk-taxi...

    On my first visit I arrived at much the same time as you and ended up deciding to take a taxi (most unusual for me). There is a fixed rate taxi fare of 52USD (plus toll and tip) to Manhattan. Only use the official yellow-cab despatchers outside the terminal.

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  • yooperprof's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by yooperprof Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    Hi. I just did a very similar trip to this one three weeks ago - JFK to Midtown Manhattan.

    First, you might be lucky if you are on an international flight from a location that has US Customs pre-clearance before you board your outbound flight. I flew out of Dublin on Delta, and the passengers all went through complete US Customs at the Dublin airport. This meant that when our flight landed at JFK, we just got off the plane and went to baggage claim (or whatever else) - no formalities whatsoever. Otherwise, the earlier poster is correct - a moderate wait in a JFK Customs hall is normal.

    In order to get on the Airtrain you have to cross the road that is immediately in front of the various terminals. Look for a Jamaica AirTrain. (Not all of the trains go to Jamaica.) It takes about ten minutes. With the Air Train going to Jamaica, you pay at the Jamaica station. The fare is $5. There are ticket machines that accept either credit cards or US currency. You will want to purchase an MTA Card with a larger amount of credit on it - since you'll need it for the E Train, and you may be planning to use the subway on other journeys once you are in Manhattan.

    At Jamaica, you'll need to transfer from the AirTrain station to the MTA station. It's all indoors, but it does involve taking an elevator down several floors, and then about a five minute walk to the E Train platform. The MTA fair into the city is $2.25, so you'll need to have at least that amount of credit on your card.

    There shouldn't be a lot of people taking the train into Manhattan on a Sunday night, so you might have a relatively short journey time - maybe half an hour. There are also some express trains. Inside each train is a monitor that shows pretty clearly exactly which stops that train is making. Take the E train to 50th Street and 8th Avenue Station. Try to exit the station at the 50th Street end, since it looks like your hotel is on 47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. Should be just three or four short blocks!

    (Don't take the LIRR into Manhattan. It takes you into Penn Station, which is all the way down at 34th Street.)

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  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by nicolaitan Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    customs and immigration at terminal 4 is so variable. we have seen days with very small waits and, on our last transit, the wait was interminable. the airtrain and e train are safe at any hour of day or night.

    the airtrain has two tracks - your train will be on the outer track. as above, do not take the train to howard beach, choose the Jamaica train. many people will switch to the express f train across the platform a few stops down at continental 71st, but that runs down 6th avenue, several long blocks further to your hotel walking. so stay with the e local, lose about 5-10 minutes at most.

    hopefully you will use the atm at jfk for dollars. the exchange kiosks with a live person have brutal rates.

    do not accept rides from people who approach you in the terminal if you choose to take a taxi. as above, join the queue for a yellow metered taxi. the lines appear long but move very fast. if you are three or four people with heavy luggage, worth considering.

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  • akkipaa's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by akkipaa Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    How long you are staying in NYC? Remember, it's a large city and best way to travel there is Metro. If you are there longer, you can purchase e.g. one week MIT ticket, very useful:
    http://www.mta.info/fares/
    It was under 30$ when I last time used it, check the price from pages (it doesn't cover JFK-Jamaica, but can be purchased from Jamaica, right).

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by leics Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    You can't be pre-cleared to enter the US from the UK unless you fly via Dublin (with Aer Lingus, for example). It is something I have considered doing in future in order to avoid lengthy waits, but fares and flight times don't work particularly well for me.

    I only used the subway once whilst exploring (only) Manhattan. I just used my feet and the buses. You can see a lot more from a bus (and I don't like any sort of subway/Metro much anyway). :-)

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  • akkipaa's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by akkipaa Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    Yeah, as you know, it depends. With the MIT card you get Queens, Brooklyn, Bronxs and it's so fast that you can take more time to explore. Mid-Manhattan to Verrazano-Narrow Bridge (I don't recall the line, but it's one lineend in Brooklyn) is under one hour. With bus you are still in Manhattan :))

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  • 10028's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by 10028 Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    First, a minor correction. "Downtown" doesn't refer to the city center here, as it does elsewhere. Downtown can mean a direction toward the lower end of Manhattan, or the neighborhoods there. Your hotel is in Midtown West.

    We call our city rail system the subway, never the metro. Curiously, the fare card is called a MetroCard (because the system is operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, or MTA). But when we're giving directions, we always use the term "train" (as in, Take the A Train). And when you're looking at google maps, the subway stations are marked with a blue M. The terminology isn't really that important, but could be confusing. The Jamaica station is a big hub, with the Airtrain, the subway and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

    Anyway.... You pay the Airtrain fare when you exit at Jamaica. There are attendants to help you. The subway transfer is pretty well marked too. By the way, you'll notice the subway station is Sutphin Boulevard, not Jamaica. That's important because on your return trip, that's the station you want to exit. It's one stop before the actual Jamaica subway station. No worries, as that's where pretty much everyone gets off...you won't miss it. And your directions are correct -- take the Manhattan-bound E train to 50th Street. It'll take about 45 minutes.

    You've already been warned against accepting rides with touts who approach you. I'll also warn you about the shared van companies like Super Shuttle or Go Airlink. They are notoriously poor. You can use google if you want all the horror stories, they're out there.

    Oh, you will have a choice of metro cards between a pay-as-you-go or unlimited-ride. Which you choose depends on how long you'll be here. The break-even is about 4 days to make the 7-day unlimited card worthwhile, and it's a great bargain at $30. You can put the Airtrain (which isn't included in the unlimited-ride, and is $5 each way) and unlimited-ride amounts on the same card now. The card is also accepted on city buses (except express buses).

    One more thing about the metro card vending machines. If you're using a credit card, you'll have to enter a zip code. Just enter five zeros... 00000. (I guess it never occurred to the MTA that visitors don't all have zip codes!!)

    I hope this doesn't further confuse you!

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  • bzulu67's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by bzulu67 Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Thank you all so much. I fully understand the system now. I,m there for five nights (4 full days) so I will get the unlimited ride card for $30 and use the subway and buses to get around. Do they do a senior discount?
    Thank you once again, your all so knowledgeable.

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  • 10028's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by 10028 Online Now Mar 23, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    Senior discounts are available if you're 65 or over. You must apply for the discount and get an ID card, so it's usually not worth the bother for visitors. Info and applications are available on the MTA web site.

    By the way, because our system operates 24/7, repairs are done on mostly nights and weekends. Be sure to check the web site for weekend route changes and closures.

    http://www.mta.info/

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  • bzulu67's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by bzulu67 Online Now Mar 24, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    Thanks for that info 10028.

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  • ter1413's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by ter1413 Online Now Mar 29, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    I may be late, but here are the options that you have...just click "directions."
    hopstop.com/search?xfr=heade...

    hopstop.com is a great tool within many US cities to plan how to get from point 1 to point 2 using several options..the subway(in NY) being the key one.

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  • bzulu67's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by bzulu67 Online Now Mar 30, 2013 at 4:31 AM

    Thank you for that Keyser, it's never too late. I've looked at hotstop.com, really good for planning A to B. Thanks again.

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  • ter1413's Profile Photo

    Re: Travel from JFK to downtown New York

    by ter1413 Online Now Mar 30, 2013 at 4:41 AM

    No problem! Enjoy NY...

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