How to get to NYC for cheap

How to get to NYC for cheap

I’ve spent my entire life flying into, and out of New York, so I’ve become an expert at navigating the ground transport situation whether its JFK, LGA, or EWR. Interestingly though, I almost never take a taxi/Uber to or from the airport. Not only is it expensive, but I’ve found the public transit methods can also be faster at certain times of the day than a taxi. So here are my tricks to get from any of the major airports into NYC for around $15 or less.

JFK to NYC

There are two main options you have here, but both involve the AirTrain. When you exit the baggage claim, follow the signs for the AirTrain and take either the train marked for Howard Beach, or for Jamaica. The AirTrain itself costs $8.00 when you exit. FYI the AirTrain ticket is the same as a MetroCard, so you can add money to an existing card and use that. Else, you can just buy a new one at the machine.

Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Manhattan = Howard Beach

At Howard Beach Station you can connect to the A subway line and get a ticket for $2.75. It will take you through Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, and into lower Manhattan in about 40 minutes. This would be a great option too if you happen to fly in to see a game at the Barclay’s Center which is on the way.

Queens, Williamsburg, and Midtown Manhattan = Jamaica Station

At Jamaica you actually have two options because the AirTrain connects to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and also the J, Z, and E subway lines. My preference is to take the LIRR because it’s faster (about 20 minutes to Penn Station), although it’s $8.00. Some LIRR trains also stop at Woodside, which is great if you happen to be going to Citi Field or Arthur Ash Stadium.

Alternatively, you could take the subway for $2.75. The J and Z trains will get you into Williamsburg (the only ways to get there by subway from the airport in one shot), or the E train brings you into the East Side of Manhattan. The latter is a great option if you don’t want to go into Penn, then have to get on the subway anyway to head elsewhere. 

LGA to NYC

Two options here as well, although the second is a hybrid model using a taxi. LGA (unlike JFK) has no AirTrain, so you’ll need to get yourself to the subway or train first. This is not hard, but requires you to pay a bit more attention.

Astoria, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan = SBS M60 Bus

The SBS M60 bus is an express bus that will take you right to Astoria, and then over the RFK Bridge into upper Manhattan and across town. It stops at each terminal in LGA and they run about every 10-15 minutes. Just follow the signs, and it’s $2.75. Be aware you’ll need to use your MetroCard to get a ticket for this type of bus, and the machines are at the stop. Once you’re on, it’s about 15 minutes to the Astoria Blvd stop (right at the base of the RFK bridge) where you can transfer to the N or Q subway. Typically the transfer itself is free too if you use your MetroCard. In 15 minutes you’ll be inmidtown. If you continue on the bus, you’ll be to Upper Manhattan in about 10 minutes. 

Midtown: Taxi to Woodside

So, if you’re in more of a rush, it may be mildly faster to get into midtown by taking a $10 taxi to Woodside station, which is about 10 minutes away, and transferring to the LIRR for $8 to Penn Station in Manhattan or the subway ($2.75). As a side note, this is the best option if you’re also heading out to Long Island.

EWR to NYC

There’s just one option here that is very straightforward. Take the AirTrain to the Newark Liberty International Airport Station to the connect with New Jersey Transit and Amtrak. The train tickets include the $7.75 AirTrain fee, run every 15 minutes or so, and bring you right into NYC in about 20 minutes.

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