It’s now time for Episode 4 in my Transit Tourism series, documenting my recent trip to New York City. In this episode, I will document my arrival to New York’s LaGuardia Airport and my journey on board New York MTA’s M60 Select Bus Service bus line to Manhattan.
Despite my tight connection in Washington D.C., I was able to board my flight to New York City without issue and the flight was very smooth. I even handed a note to one of the flight attendants for the excellent job he did (I also listed my website address on the note so he could check out the great things that I post).
Once on the ground, it was a little bit before the plane was able to taxi to the gate due to the massive construction project occurring at LaGuardia. The entire terminal complex is undergoing a modernization and expansion project that will ultimately reduce some of the congestion at the complex and create a better experience for passengers. There is currently building pressure from many in the NYC region to utilize Rikers Island (which the prison on the island is slated to close permanently several years from now) as a launchpad for another expansion of LaGuardia, allowing for a less constrained runway pattern than what exists today.
Navigating LaGuardia’s Terminal C wasn’t too much of a challenge since it is relatively small compared to Terminal B, which is the mainstay terminal. As you can see in the above photo, Terminal C primarily serves Delta. so hence the banners and blue wall tones. Tampa International Airport’s Airside E also primarily serves Delta.
Once down at the Baggage Claim level, I searched for the Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) for the New York MTA so that I could obtain my MetroCard. I decided to purchase a 7-day Unlimited Ride card because I did not want to spend a ton of money refilling the Pay-Per-Ride card over and over. I felt that the 7-day card would be the better value even though I was only in the area for five days.
Since I didn’t have any checked baggage, I was able to immediately head out to the curb to locate the MTA bus stop. I had to be really careful to board the correct bus, since the Q48, Q70, & Q72 also stops at LaGuardia. Route Q70 is also a Select Bus Service route, dubbed as the “LaGuardia Link” and connects customers to the 61st St – Woodside subway station for the (7) Train and the Long Island Rail Road.
In addition to making sure I boarded the correct bus; because the Select Bus Service bus lines have off-board fare collection, there is an extra step that I needed to take. I went to the TVM by the bus stop and noticed an SBS Fare Validator Machine next to it. I inserted my MetroCard into the validator and picked up my receipt. When you board an SBS bus, you will need to keep your ticket receipt with you at all times, as ticket inspectors will board buses at random to weed out fare evaders. Fare evasion at the MTA will result in a hefty fine, so it’s best to make sure that you’ve paid your way before boarding.
Before my trip to New York City, I downloaded the MTA Bus Time Smartphone App so that I could track which buses were coming my way and at what times they would arrive. The MTA uses the OneBusAway interface to power MTA Bus Time. You can download the app from the Apple App Store (iPhone) or the Google Play Store (Android), App information can be found on the MTA website.
I also posted regular updates to The Global Transit Travel Log Facebook Group during my trip, including which buses and trains I was on. It was a pretty cool experience being able to let my group members know where I was along the MTA system. In addition, I also posted check-ins on my HARTride 2012 Facebook Page.
Once my bus arrived, I boarded and greeted the bus operator. I also noticed that even the SBS buses have fareboxes, though there is a sign covering it that notifies customers that fares are not collected on board the bus. The reason that all buses have fareboxes, regardless of whether they are SBS or not, is because any SBS bus can be easily rebranded into a regular local bus at any time. However, many of the SBS buses that serve LaGuardia are equipped with luggage racks, which make it easy for customers to stow away luggage without blocking the aisles.
The M60-SBS operates pretty frequently, with 10 to 12 minute frequency during the day on weekdays. Buses run less frequent on weekends, holidays, and late-nights.
The ride along the M60-SBS was just a little over an hour due to construction along the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which traverses over the East River, Wards Island, and Randall’s Island. During my trip, I was able to pull up my hotel information, post to Facebook, and film a short video – which you can watch below. Once I arrived in the Morningside Heights district, I was only blocks away from my hotel – as well as the (1) Train to the heart of Manhattan.
It only took me about 10 minutes to walk from the M60-SBS terminating stop to my hotel. Once inside, I waited about 15 minutes for the person ahead of me to check in. Once I was checked in, I was able to drop my bag off in my room and get a feel for the environment I was staying in for the next four nights. Although the Morningside Inn is not a top-of-the-line hotel, they have a cozy atmosphere with friendly staff and affordable rates. Each room has LCD TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi access, and comfortable beds, as well as ambient lighting. Many of the rooms also have a mini fridge, which allowed me to walk to the nearby markets to grab a quick snack or drink. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Manhattan without breaking the bank, and not wanting to go the Airbnb route, I highly recommend staying at the Morningside Inn.