Getting Around Manhattan

By far the easiest way to get around Manhattan is via the subway.  Columbia is well served by the number 1 train, which provides easy access to the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  One can also use the number 2 and 3 express trains south of 96th Street to speed up trips.  These trains skip many stops in Manhattan and are substantially faster, particularly during rush our when the time for each stop is longer, due to the number of people entering and leaving the subway.  At most stations (Penn Station being the exception) the 1 stops on one side of the platform and the 2/3 on the other side, making transfers simple.

During rush hour, or when traveling to a busy destination (such as Times Square) the travel time for a subway trip is much more reliable than the travel time by taxi.  Going from  Columbia to Times Square on the 1 train generally takes 25 minutes, once you board the subway.  The wait at the station is generally no more than 5 minutes.  At a destination like Times Square, allow plenty of time to walk to your theater, etc. because the crowds can move slowly.  If you can transfer to a 2/3 train at 96th Street, without any additional waiting, the travel time can be as short as 15 minutes.

To get to the East Side from Columbia (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example), the bus is a good option.  The M4 bus run stops at 116th and Broadway, goes across town on 110th Street and then goes downtown on Fifth Avenue.  You can see where an M4 bus is using the MTA Bus Time Service.  It takes around 30 minutes to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Columbia on the M4.

Taxis are very useful for travel away from rush hour and for a larger group, since the fare is the same for four people as it is for one.  From Columbia to Times Square, the fare (with tip) is around $20, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art it is around $15 and to Greenwich Village about $25.  These are average fares and, in heavy traffic, the fare can be substantially higher since there is a charge for sitting in traffic.  Taxis take both cash and credit cards.  There are also new services, such as Uber, which allow you to request a car pickup from your cell phone.  Please note that these services adjust pricing by demand and, in rainy weather or at high demand times, they can cost 2 or 3 times more than a conventional taxi.