You've booked your car to get you from city to city, but you want the ease of using public transport while on route to the Arc de Triumph in Paris or taking the A line downtown in New York. Perhaps you want to take the Tube to the London Eye or Trafalgar Square.
Our guide to mastering the metro/subway in London, New York and Paris will have you travelling like a local! Unlike anything we have in Australia, using these systems for the first time can be frightening, they are designed to handle large crowds quickly and easily so before long you will be comfortable in getting from downtown Manhattan to midtown.
The London Underground or Tube as it is more commonly known, is served by 12 lines and generally runs between the hours of 5am and Midnight Monday - Saturday, with reduced hours on Sundays. The easiest way to pay for your Tube ride is to buy a Visitor Oyster Card. This card allows you to travel across the London underground, overground and bus network with ease. If using a paper ticket be careful to ensure that your ticket allows you access to the zones you are travelling to.
Getting around the Underground network is fairly simple! Trains are marked with their final destination, so be sure to check before getting on! Just because you are on the Piccadilly Line platform doesn't mean your train will go to Heathrow Airport! Countdown timers on major platforms indicate the next train's arrival time and the destination. Use a map or application to work out which route you need to take. Changing between lines can sometimes involve long walks, but not to worry, trains are frequent so if you miss one there is bound to be one not far behind!
Top Five London Tube Tips:
The New York Subway is a large, inexpensive underground train system which serves all five New York City boroughs. Being the world's largest rapid transit network in terms of stations, with 469, it can be a scary experience at first, but once you begin to understand how it works it is a fast, efficient system. Patrons are charged a single fare for one ride on the subway, being charged for entry and exit. The current cost is $3USD per ride. If you are staying in New York for an extended period, or plan on using the Subway frequently a MetroCard is ideal. It is a thin plastic card with funds stored electronically. The price is cheaper using this card and is currently $2.75USD. Access to stations can be found on street level and are marked with the route number. Be careful as some entries may only offer access to a certain route or uptown or downtown trains. When approaching the turnstile swipe your MetroCard quickly. When it flashes go, proceed through the turnstile. Do not double tap your card as this will charge you as one journey as it's read as an entry and exit! Most stations have staff so if you have trouble you can ask for assistance.
The most important part of using the New York Subway is to understand the terminology associated with the subway. A train goes in two directions - uptown or downtown. In Manhattan, uptown means north of where you are standing, and downtown means south. Keep in mind that in Brooklyn this is in reverse. Each line is indicated by a number or letter and trains do not travel based on a destination, but simply a uptown or downtown service on that particular line. For example to get from Times Square to the Rockefeller Centre you could take a uptown R line train from 42nd Street/Time Square station to 49th Street Station or to get from the Empire State Building to the World Trade Centre Memorial Site you could take a downtown B line train from 34th/Herald Square to West 4th St/Washington Square and the change to a downtown E line train to World Trade Centre. In addition to a train being a uptown or downtown service there are express and local services. Express services tend to be fast services and only stop at a limited number of stops. Local services tend to be slower and stop at more or all stations. Be sure to check if your station is served by express services.
Top Five New York Subway tips:
Paris has two main commuter transport networks. The metro which is the rapid, underground transport network serving the city and the RER, the commuter network which covers the greater Paris region and suburbs. It is important to understand the difference with these two networks as not all areas of Paris are served by both or one another. In some cases because the RER has less frequent stopping patterns it may be a quicker option over the metro.
The Metro has 303 stations and is open Monday -Thursday and Sunday from 5.30am through to 1.15am and 5.30am - 2.15am on Friday and Saturday. The standard metro ticket is the Ticket t which is valid for a single ride at â‚1.80 or a pack of ten (carnet) for â‚14.10. This ticket can be used on the complete metro network, Zone 1 of the RER network (within the city limit of Paris), the tramway network, RATP Bus network and the Montmartre Funicular. Another option for visitors is the Paris Visite Pass, available for one, two, three or five day durations covering either zones 1-3 of Paris, or zones 1-5 which gives you access to the RER as well as airports, Versailles and Disneyland Paris. Tickets can be bought from automatic ticket machines which can be switched to English for easier usability.
Entrances to stations are marked with the Art Nouveau style 'Metropolitan' signs which can't be missed. Once in the station and approaching the turnstile look for options not marked with a red cross or circle. Insert the ticket, magnetic strip down into the slot on your right hand side. It will then pop out up the top and you must collect the ticket for the gate to open. If your ticket is accepted a short high pitch buzzing sound will alert you and a message Reprenez votre ticket or take your ticket will flash.
There are 14 lines on the metro system and to find your train you should know the line number and the destination of that line. Platforms are dedicated to particular lines but not all trains which pass through may stop at your station. On the front of trains, the lines final destination is shown, and countdown timers on the platform indicate when the next service will arrive. When disembarking or boarding a metro or RER service, you may need to open the door manually. A light will flash which indicates you can push the button to open the door. Some cars may have a handle opening. When you hear the door release push the handle up and the door will open. Transfers are easy, so use a map or app to work out where you need to change. It may be required to make one or two changes to get to your destination. Be aware that the Metro has many long winding tunnels and these can be long distances at big stations. Like the London Underground major attractions are marked and when you step of the train directional signage will point you to the correct exit for the attraction. You should follow the signs marked sortie which is the French word for exit.
The RER or (Regional Express Network) is the commuter network covering Paris and its suburbs. To avoid confusion with the metro, lines are marked with letters and not numbers. Entry to RER stations can often be found close to Metro stations and are indicated with a blue RER sign. If you are using the RER within Paris a normal Paris metro Ticket t can be used. If you are travelling outside of Zone 1 on the RER (i.e. outside the immediate Paris city) you will require a different ticket called Billet Ile-de-France. Tickets are based on travel from one station to another station and costs range from â‚3 up to â‚10. If you're planning to use the RER many times a day a Ticket Moblis is the best option and can be bought depending on the RER zones you plan to travel in. Alternatively the Paris Visite Pass can be purchased with the RER included. Using your ticket is similar to the metro. Look for machines which do not have a red ticket crossed out as these are reserved for pass holders. Instead of turnstiles most RER stations have push through gates. After taking your ticket approach the gate and use some weight to push through. Before entering the platform you will find clear maps which show the route and direction of travel. On the platform, large electronic boards show the stops the next train will call at. Be sure you get on the correct train by checking if your station is lit up on the board. Again sortie signs indicate the exit.
Top Five Metro/RER Tips:
So now that you can master the local rapid transport network you need a car to leave the city and explore! Auto Europe has your worldwide car hire needs covered so call us on 1300 656 601 or visit us online on our booking engine.