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How navigating NYC’s transit options gave me a renewed appreciation for the city

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After taking nearly every type of transit available in the city, I think it’s the best out there (despite its flaws)

We’ve come to the end of the Curbed Transit Challenge, and while I’m not sure, as of this writing, if New York will ultimately take home the grand prize, I do know this: I have a renewed appreciation for the city’s myriad transportation options after this week.

To briefly recap, I took the NYC Ferry’s East River Route, which I’ve now come to appreciate as one of the city’s most beautiful transit routes; I rode a Citi Bike over the Brooklyn Bridge, which was hard as hell; I took the Roosevelt Island Tram, one of the coolest modes of transit in the city; and traveled from LaGuardia Airport to Times Square using public transportation, an experience that was way easier than I expected.

Amy Plitt

I was able to use five different modes of transportation to complete these challenges: ferries, Citi Bike, an aerial tramway (one of only two in the entire country that’s intended for commuters!), subways, and buses. I was pleasantly surprised by each of these, which mostly exceeded my expectations in terms of time spent, cost, and irritation level. And I actually had a lot of fun doing it, with minimal exceptions. (Seriously, biking over a bridge is no joke.)

I’m not going to try and argue that New York’s transit system is perfect; I’ve been stuck on hot, overcrowded subways this summer, and have probably lost at least a year off my life span in waiting for delayed trains, buses, and ferries.

But while New York’s transit options aren’t always super-reliable (or accessible to all New Yorkers, which is a huge and awful problem) they are plentiful, and crucially, most of those options run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Hey, that should give me a leg up on my fellow Curbed editors in Los Angeles and San Francisco.)

The MTA (and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, let’s recall, runs the transit system) can and should be doing a lot more to improve transit in New York City. But the system we do have, while imperfect, is still pretty good—and I’m glad this challenge gave me that reminder.