To/From JFK

JFK is served by rail, subway, taxi, bus and shuttle services.  Here we give some details about three generally preferred options to Manhattan: taxis, the AirTrain/Subway and the Airtrain/LIRR/Subway.  A full list of transportation options is here.

Taxis:  For taxis from JFK to Manhattan, a flat rate fare of $52 is charged, with tolls and tip additional costs.  The common route to Columbia crosses the Triborough/Robert F. Kennedy bridge, which has a toll of $5.33.  Up to four passengers can share a cab and cabs are available outside of the terminals at JFK.  Please use one of the officially recognized modes of transportation and do not accept rides from any driver with whom you have not made previous arrangements or who does not operate from an official taxi stand.

AirTrain/Subway and AirTrain/LIRR/Subway:

The JFK AirTrain makes frequent stops everywhere around the airport, including all airline terminals, and also provides connections to other mass transit.  It runs 24 hours a day.  There are two tracks at each station, one for the AirTrain which only goes to terminals and the other for AirTrains which connect to mass transit.  You will want the AirTrain to the Jamaica Station, which is one of the two routes on the tracks which connect to mass transit.  (You do not want the Howard Beach AirTrain.  This connects directly to the subway, but it is a long ride to Manhattan this way.)  Check the signs in the station when the train arrives to make sure it is headed for Jamaica Station.

The AirTrain costs $5 and you pay when you get off at Jamaica Station.  You will need to pay for the AirTain and a subway fare and, if you are taking the LIRR, get a ticket for that as well.  Here are your options for the AirTrain and subway fare:

  • You can buy a $7.50 MetroCard (plus $1 new card fee) to pay for the AirTrain and a subway ride to Columbia.
  • You can buy a Pay-Per-Ride Metrocard for any dollar amount and, provided the card has more than $5.00 on it, use the card to pay for the AirTrain.
  • You can purchase an unlimited 7 day MetroCard (unlimited rides on the subway and buses) and then add dollar value to it (greater than $5).  The dollar value will pay for the AirTrain.

Once you have left the AirTrain, you can then choose whether to take the subway to Columbia, or the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and subway.  The subway is cheaper and takes longer.


To get to Columbia from the Jamaica station, take the E train to 42nd Street, Port Authority, in Manhattan.  The E is an express train to Manhattan, so it only makes infrequent stops in Queens.  Once it enters Manhattan, it stops more frequently.  At 42nd Street, transfer from the E to either the A or C heading uptown to Inwood.  You want to get off at 59th Street, which is 1 stop on the A or 2 stops on the C.  At 59th Street, transfer to the number 1 train, uptown, to 242nd Street.  Stay on the uptown 1 train until 116th Street, where you exit the subway and will find yourself directly in front of the main entrance to Columbia. This entire subway trip will cost only a single fare.

According to the JFK web site, the trip to Columbia from JFK on this route should take about 75 minutes.


You can take the LIRR from Jamaica to Penn Station in Manhattan for $9.50 for a peak fare (charged if the train arrives at Penn between 6 and 10 AM) and $7.00 for off peak.  These are the prices if you buy the ticket before boarding the train, which you should do, as the tickets cost almost twice as much on the train.  The trip from Jamaica to Penn Station in Manhattan takes about 20 minutes.

Once you arrive in Penn Station, follow the (generally overhead) signs for the 1, 2 and 3 subway.  You will stay underground as you change to the subway and you will need subway fare to enter the subway station.


To get from NY Penn to Columbia, follow the instructions here.