The New York City subway can be bad but are they “that” bad?

If you have never been on the New York City subway or any other city with a subway system, you are probably freaked out by the notion.

The phrase “too many movies” comes to mind and I can tell you that the apprehension is well deserved until you actually get on one and realize that for the most part, people are trying to get from point A to point B.

It has been a while since I was on the NYC subway. For all the misgivings and questions I had prior to arriving in NYC for a few days, I can say that it was actually quite fun and sometimes a little gross. Let’s not play around here, subways can be pretty disgusting.

I can’t speak for other transit authorities but this weekend, the cars were pretty clean. I had heard stories of people being robbed and beaten and sometimes worse but I was assured by a friend that NYC had done a great job of improving the safety of passengers. I was hoping that my trip would be mostly during the day but that really wasn’t the case.

My family and I traversed downtown Manhattan from Central Park to The Battery in Lower Manhattan. While there were a few colorful characters along the way, we were not bothered by anyone and in fact, found many of the patrons quite nice and willing to help guide us.

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 16: People dance to live music in a vintage New York City subway car as it sits in the 2nd Ave. station on December 16, 2012 in New York City. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) runs vintage subway trains from the 1930’s-1970’s each Sunday along the M train route from Manhattan to Queens through the first of the year. (Photo by Preston Rescigno/Getty Images)

It would be on Sunday that I would get to feel the system outside of normal work and business days. I was attending a game at MetLife Stadium and took the subway from New Jersey. I left around 5:00 in the morning. The sun not fully up and my walk to the subway terminal was a good mile or so. While I passed a couple of people early, it wasn’t a big deal and actually quite relaxing of a stroll.

There were plenty of people waiting on the train and I took it over to Midtown where I would catch up with others for a bus ride to the stadium. After the game, I rode back to Midtown, then walked to Lower Manhattan.

While I could have simply jumped back on the subway and headed back to Jersey, there was something about walking through New York with little traffic both on the road and pedestrian that I wanted to absorb. I picked up two large pizzas and headed down to the subway.

This time around it was crowded and had gotten pretty late. I was still a good 40 minutes or more. The subway car was filled with people and I was surprised given the low amount of traffic above. A group of young kids got on at one of the stations. They were unruly, rude, and a few people backed away.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 13: People ride a New York City subway station on April 13, 2021 in New York City. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that more than two million people rode the train last Thursday, the highest daily number since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic struck New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

They made quite a bit of noise and didn’t seem to care too much about who was around them. Yet, when one of them bumped into me, almost throwing me to the ground after a turn by the car, he simply smiled and apologized. That was my intense moment of the day.

We tend to think that the Subway is some kind of ghetto hole in the ground and while there are plenty of homeless on the streets and some in the stairwells, the images I had conjured in my brain about what I was going to expect turned out to be wrong.

You have to be careful and you have to pay attention but I wouldn’t recommend avoiding it, the subway is a quick and fun way to get around Manhattan and will save you a lot of time. If you are planning to be in NYC for more than a day, I highly recommend buying the subway pass to save you a lot of money.