I grew to be comfortable with the subway system in New York City pretty young and to this day have never taken the bus. The bus system is also mapped nicely and SHOULD be easy for me to use. It also offers the chance to see the shops and buildings along the route, although the street traffic slows down the trip. I just never have opted to take a bus.
A few things I noticed about the subway in New York last week compared to trips taken in earlier years—the system seemed cleaner, the feeling was one of safety and there were more air conditioned cars.
Many stations have manned booths for ticket purchases but there are also kiosks in the wall that take cash and/or credit cards, offering single, round-trip and combination of tickets purchases. It was easy to purchase a card that gave us $20 of trips and then to supplement with single ticket purchases as we completed our trip there.
Ever since I read the story about Joshua Bell playing his Stradivarius in the Washington Metro and being ignored, I try to take a few minutes to listen to subway musicians. Within a short time you can assess if they are worth paying attention to for a while and a small tip is a nice way to encourage them to continue sharing their art so others can enjoy.Ridership has been increasing and recently are now higher than highest levels established in 1950. Daily weekday ridership is over 5 million!!! Crowds, of course, depend on time of day and where your route is headed. This was during rush hour. It was NOT this crowded all the time and I often was able to get a seat when we entered the car.
In the past three years I have used subway systems in New York, Boston, London and Paris. All had their differences but all had easy to read maps that made route selection work well. Handicap accessibility is provided more often in the United States but even in New York not every station was accessible. The Subway website provides information about each station in the system.