Transit Tourism – New York City Transit Excursion 2017 – Part 4

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.


Travel Log

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).

On approach to LaGuardia Airport, with the Manhattan skyline in the background.

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.

Inside Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport.

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.

Signs to the baggage claim.

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.

Got my MetroCard! I’m ready to roll!

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.

Nova LFS Artric #5856, ready to depart.

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.

A screenshot of MTA bus #5296, which I rode to Manhattan. The MTA uses a branded version of OneBusAway called “MTA Bus Time”.

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.

On board bus #5296.

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.

M60-SBS Map. Click on the image to view the full schedule.

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.

Bus #5296 at Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

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.


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Legalese | Disclosures

Transit Tourism – New York City Transit Excursion 2017 – Part 1

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done a Transit Tourism post, and I really haven’t been able to get this series off the ground due to other priorities. However, I’m sure that many of you have seen at least one photo or video of my recent travels through New York City, and I want to be able to share my experiences with you. I’ve actually taken three trips now to the Big Apple – one in April of 1997, the second in March of 2011, and the third – and most recent one – in May of 2017.

My 1997 trip was for a family wedding, and I truly enjoyed being able to spend time with them and also do a lot of sightseeing. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos documenting my transit rides from 1997 because the camera that my father was carrying got lost during our trip, and thus 95% of the photos we took had vanished forever. I can tell you though that we rode the (7) train between Flushing – Main St and Times Square – 42nd St quite a lot. It was our main avenue between Queens and Manhattan since my dad didn’t want to battle the busy Manhattan traffic all the time. Back in 1997, the famed “Redbird” trains – dating back to the 1964 World’s Fair and before – were still running along the (7). It would not be until a year later that the New York MTA would announce that all of the “Redbirds” would be replaced by sleek, modern R-142 and R-142A railcars.

In 2011, I made a return trip to New York City via Newark to visit my family and to do another round of sightseeing. Since most of my stay was devoted to family time, I didn’t place a huge emphasis on transit fanning, and thus did not take a lot of photos of the buses and trains. I was, however, able to ride the (6), (J), and (R) trains through lower and midtown Manhattan, as well as take the PATH Subway from Exchange Place into Manhattan, and also ride a New Jersey Transit bus from Manhattan to Fort Lee, NJ. You can find my 2011 transit photo collection (though a small one) on my Facebook Page. I will have those same photos copied over to the website as I build my New York City Transit sections.

So what brought me back to New York City this year? Well, to keep things short; my stepfather travels on business a lot and he had a flight voucher that he was no longer going to use, so he offered it to me. I then pondered, what destinations could I use the voucher for? It didn’t take me very long to decide on the Big Apple, and why not? I was originally not planning on traveling to New York again until around 2020. But with the South Ferry Loop closing down by July in favor of the “newer” rebuilt station, I wanted to make sure that I was able to photograph a piece of New York City Transit history before it gets riddled in graffiti. Since I wanted to be close to the transit action in Manhattan, I decided to stay at the Morningside Inn, located on 207th St in the Morningside Heights district of Manhattan. The district sits between the Hudson River and the northwest section of Central Park and is just a stone’s throw away from Columbia University. The district also serves as the western terminus for the M60 Select Bus Service line from LaGuardia Airport, and one can easily transfer over to the (1) train via the 103rd St or 110th St (Cathedral Pkwy) stations.

In addition to spending some time with my relatives in NJ again, I made sure to make visits to the Bronx Zoo, the World Trade Center memorial park, and also the New York Transit Museum. I also managed to make two trips to Coney Island (though I did not stay there for very long). Overall, my trip was very enjoyable, even though it was shorter in duration than my 2011 trip (my 2011 trip included six full days whereas my 2017 trip only included three full days). However, I was able to accomplish quite a bit in the course of four days, including the above, plus rides on the (1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (B), (F), (G), (J), (L), (N), (Q), (R), (W), and (Z) trains, plus the 42nd St Shuttle in midtown Manhattan. In addition, I took a ride on five MTA bus lines – the Bx12-SBS, the Q44-SBS, the M60-SBS, the M72 Crosstown, and the M79 Crosstown – as well as a round trip on the PATH Subway between 33rd St and Newport (formerly known as Pavonia-Newport).

If you’d like to see all of the transit lines that I’ve traversed during my three trips to New York, please view the map below. In the coming weeks, I will be putting forth subsequent episodes detailing segments of my 2017 trip and what I was able to observe.

You’ll see in the map that I’ve documented all transit lines that I’ve been on, including ones during my previous two trips. The neat thing about Google Maps is that you can customize the map (through the Google My Maps interface) by drawing lines and such, and then adding in different layers. I especially like the layers because you can show which ones you want to view, so if you only want to view the lines I took during my 2017 trip, you can simply uncheck the boxes for my 1997 and 2011 trips.


Please be sure to bookmark my website: globaltransitguidebook.com | Contact Me.

You can also find me on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | YouTube

Legalese | Disclosures