NYC subway – one of the largest in the world
The New York City subway system with a total of 472 stations is among the top 10 most significant in the world. While this might be an excellent proof of urban development, it’s also a unique way to lower your and your kid’s health status. Let’s see some stats about the underground travels in NYC.
The NYC subway works 24/7 covering over 660 metro miles. Every day, every night people are trying to squeeze into the full cars. Nearly 6 million commuters take the train every week. An average New Yorker spends more than 6 hours underground per week, lacking sunlight and breathing lousy quality air. New York City’s commutes are also one of the longest in the country, thanks to the numerous delays and repair works.
If you haven’t seen how the rush hour feels like in NYC, you need to know it lasts 3 hours in the morning and even longer in the evening. Peak hour starts around 7 AM to 10 AM, and evening rush begins after 4:30 PM to 8 PM.
To avoid an unpleasant experience with children trapped between hundreds of people inside a hot car, you should consider traveling off-peak. See what’s the best time to take the metro.
What time the subway is good to travel with kids
Traveling with kids can be a hard job even if your child is old enough not to use a stroller. Except if you have some urgent business to do don’t use the subway in the rush times of the day. The best time to ride is midday after 11 AM to early afternoon before 5 PM.
Don’t expect empty cars in any situation; there are always passengers all day long. Still, if you notice an empty train, this might be due to some technical or other problem. There’s always a reason for passengers to leave the train, so don’t go inside an empty car no matter how tempting it seems.
Weekends are not so busy in the mornings or evenings, but remember that tourists use the weekends to observe the city. With more than 61 million tourists for the last year, New York is a busy city all the time. Have in mind that the stations in the central part and those close to attractions will be pretty much populated. Times Square with most connections available is, of course, the busiest station. Other highly favorite stations are Union Square, Herald Square, and Penn Station.
Sundays might also be a wrong time for a long trip as a lot of visitors leave the city. They travel to Grand Central Station; even one of the top crowd. Those going to JFK airport populate the trains quickly with heavy bags and suitcases leaving almost no space for mothers with strollers.
Is it safe to travel by NYC subway?
Safety of commutes is always a matter of importance not only for mothers. The NYC subway is not as dangerous as presented in movies and you’re not going to get killed for a couple of dollars.
It can be dangerous for the younger ones though. Mothers should be alert all the time and watch their children. Little kids might fall on the tracks or in the gap between the train and the platform.
Escalators can also be unsafe as the child can fall from there as well. One of the things every mother should have in mind is to keep her child close. Rushing people don’t care about anything else but to get the train as quickly as possible. Crowds might smash little kids, suffocate them or cause other physical injuries.
Once inside the car you can look for a free seat or kindly ask if nobody offers you one. Children under 6 are too short to reach the straps. In case of a sudden break, the kid might fall and hurt himself. Also, little ones are not familiar with the ”subway etiquette” and might unintentionally block the doors and cause trouble.
Keep your child, and personal belongings close
Watch your kid not to get on the car by himself. Once the doors are closed, and the train leaves you can’t stop it. One of the scariest things for mothers is to lose their child. Some subway complexes have more than ten interconnected lines and as twice as many entrances. Hold your kid’s hand and don’t let him run along alone.
Finally, don’t forget there are many pick-pockets on the platforms and inside the train. Hold your bag close to your body and hands. If you bring a baby backpack, hold it close and don’t leave them on empty seats. If you keep everything out of sights – phone, tablet, wallet – you have nothing to worry about.
What to check before you get into the subway
If you’re traveling with a small child and a stroller, you need to check for available stations. One of the most severe problems in NYC subway systems is the lack of lifts on many stations or elevators out of service. MTA has been accused many times of neglecting the importance of elevators and dishonoring human rights of people with disadvantages and mothers.
Only 40 % of the stations are well-facilitated with elevators. Compared to that 80% of the escalators are not functioning all the time. Non-profit organizations are raising voice against the poor conditions in the subway system. Many of the lawsuits against MTA point out how human rights are ignored. Some of the problems you will face are:
– Elevators or escalators out of service, especially at the weekends;
– Outdated online information about repairs and facilities out of service;
– Lifts not serving all levels, but only the mezzanine and the street level;
– Dirty and poorly maintained facilities.
To prepare yourself before getting into the subway you can check MTA’s official information page or see details about escalators out of services here. They try to update as quickly as possible the information about non-functioning lifts. Furthermore on MTA’s page is an available full list of all stations with available elevators. Remember to check whether the lift serves all levels.
Getting into the subway with a stroller
Mothers with strollers along with people with disabilities have to enter the underground through the emergency exit door if they cannot pass the tight turnstile. Today many of the stops already have installed Auto Gates for disabled passengers. Many of the small stations, however, can only offer emergency exit doors.
To enter through the emergency exit door, you need to ask an attendant to open it for you after you swipe your metro card at the turnstile.
MTA is refurbishing and installing facilities in the subway system to fulfill its responsibilities as an authority and serve human rights.
What are the health issues when traveling on the subway
If you go every day with your child, you need to consider some health issues. See how the underground travel may affect your and your kid’s health.
Everyone knows the air in the subway is terrible, but how bad it is actually for a young and fragile organism? Most of the stops are deep under the street level with no access to fresh air. The deep the stop is, the more carbon dioxide is in the air. Adding the CO2, all the people are breathing out in the rush hour it is not the best place to be with a kid.
Many types of research note NYC underground is in the highest position in a matter of air pollution in the country. The air contains airborne particles from the track, steel dust, rock ballast dust and carbon micro-particles.
The subway cars are also a great place for viruses to spread. Some studies note the air also contains fungi above average, thanks to the rotting wood inside the tunnels.
It is a well-known fact the city’s underground platforms, and mezzanines are hot as hell in the summer. The temperature is increased even more with the heat generated by the breaks. Wheels emit heat when contacting the racks.
The trains are air-conditioned, but the hard contrast from hot to a cold environment can be stressful for a young organism.
Finally, the subway is a boisterous place, both inside and outside the cars. Noise levels can reach up to 100 decibels at the platform.
A sound at 100 dB is compared with the noise of a helicopter taking off.
Many of the railroads still use old tracks with welded joints which generate even more noise. The wall coverings are usually made of stone or tile. These materials amplify the sound. Analysis of noise effects on human’s hearing has shown that people living in urban areas tend to have 15% lower hearing ability.
Many of the workers in the subway wear ear muffs to protect their hearing from the constant exposure to loud noise. And of course, try to relax during the long commute to the office.
Subway might be the fastest way to travel around the city, but is surely not the healthiest for you or your child. An adult organism can adjust to an aggressive environment, but a small child is still vulnerable.
Have more walks and short travels and try to use the subway as rare as possible in your kid’s first years.
You can always bring your kid to some of the most interesting museums in the town. We wrote an article for you which the Top children’s museums even some of them has free admissions.