The New York City Public Transportation System Tier List


This is a Queens bound F local train, transfer to the U skip stop train. The next stop is: your sister’s ass, hold for the closing doors.


This was inevitable: I’ve been complaining about small, nit-picky details about New York for my entire life, and now I finally figured out the best way to channel that minor annoyance: into a tier list about my least favorite part of city living: paying to go places.

Any form of public transportation or paid vehicle or way of commuting through the city counts here, including some joke examples, and if you got a problem with that then you can take a walk. This is a comedy piece, not a guide for gallivanting around. If you want to museum hop and travel to famous pizzerias and bakeries, this is not the article for you. Here is the criteria for this list: anything I goddamn well please, that’s what.

The greatest city in the western hemisphere, the Big Apple, only has room for one troll, and his name is James Dolan. Eat shit and die, asshole; I hope you jump off a bridge to save the Knicks from basketball irrelevance, but that’s for another day. Onto the tier list!


S TIER:

W train — Here is how I know this is the best train. First, it goes to Queens, the best borough, and through Astoria, one of the nicest parts of said best borough. I keep trying to move there but the rent is too damn high, and for good reason; they price people like me out intentionally. Second, it’s mad cool that this thing went away and came back, like a phoenix, a myth that comes back to take part of the Q tracks. Third, I have heard no problems about this train. Fourth, it has a cool name. Very hip to use the new W line. Only real New Yorkers know about that shit.

Q train — The obvious runner-up is the other subway that takes that line through Long Island City (not colloquially considered part of Long Island but it technically is) all the way to Coney Island, the most magical place on earth, about 60 years ago. This train is fast, reliable, on time, hits a lot of crucial stops, and is also super cool. The Q line. Yeah, that has a nice ring to it.

7 train — Can you tell there is a common theme here with these picks? I love Queens, I wish I was still there and not in godforsaken Brooklyn, which is a fucking dump that is not being helped by gentrification, despite my best efforts. The 7 goes from the brand new stop at Hudson Yards, which I’ve been to for New York Comic Con, it’s very convenient and very clean, all the way through most of Queens to Flushing, and yes you can see the Mets by taking that to Citi Field! The 7 is godlike, it’s got a lot of diverse stops, and I have yet to experience any real major problems so far.

Ferry — How cool is being on a boat? Mad cool. Hella cool. Monster cool. Boat rides are great, we should all take more of them. Everyone gets to sit and chill, or stand outside and feel the breeze, or do the whole Titanic ‘king of the world’ thing. I like taking the ferry whenever I can, as long as you don’t go to New Jersey, then it’s fine.The East River Ferry, I just found out, is now part of greater NYC Ferry service. Ferry frequency has been increased, ferries are now temperature controlled and have snacks for sale, Wi-Fi on board coming soon, and there is a convenient app to book passes, check schedules and more. Why don’t more people do this?

Helicopter — If you got the money, I mean why the fuck not, right? This isn’t exactly public transportation, but we all know those tours are bullshit tourist traps. And we all want to do it once in our lives, land on a building rooftop, skip Times Square entirely.

S train — No one has ever taken the S train. I assume it exists, but since there are no horror stories since no one takes this train, I’m sure it’s great. Good for you S train! You don’t have a lot of stops to be shitty to people. Good job.

Jaywalking — Everyone does it. It’s the only way to walk down the block, or across the street to a bodega. Fuck traffic, fuck cars, if you gotta problem then hit me, and then call my attorney you prick. Cops gotta problem? Arrest me, pigs. I don’t give a fuck, don’t care what the light says, I’m going anyways, I got somewhere to be, assholes. Honk all you like, I’m walkin’ here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c412hqucHKw

A TIER:

N train — This is like a slightly worse Q train, but is still very top tier for the same reasons. Love the N, easy fit for the A tier, I don’t really have to go on more about it.

2 train— This train has a special place in my heart, because it’s the one I took to sleep with a girl a few times, and it rocked. I say this because she was an absolute knockout and we had a great time. More than one, actually. She lived in the lower east side, outrageously gorgeous room. Must have cost her a small fortune, because it was in a really nice area surrounded by rich people and fancy restaurants. It helped that she was a total bombshell; they don’t give out apartments like that to ugly people.

It’s hard to pull off short hair, but boy oh boy did she nail it, smoking hot brunette. We had some wild times, let me tell you. We did everything, and then some. She moved to the U.K. for school a few months after we’d met, and it was the best kind of casual hook-up, nothing serious from the start. I think we both knew it initially, and that was fine with both of us. We just got to cherish the moments together, and didn’t want to ruin it, tarnish the memories with the petty nonsense a relationship has attached to it. I’ll never forget how her perfume smelled, for as long as I’ll live, it was intoxicating.

The train worked, I guess, that’s all I remember about those couple of times. Got me to her apartment alright. So, A tier, sure, why not. It’s better than the 3, which is the one I take currently to and from work, way more of them, they seem to go fast enough.

Using an app to have someone pick you up — It may be immoral, and pricey, but if you’re drunk or lost and have the cash, you might as well hit that Lyft app. It’s convenient, more so than flagging down a taxi, and you don’t have to wait in a line at Madison Square Garden like a sham. What schmucks!

5 train — The 5 train is a life saver for a few reasons. It’s express, it’s fast, it hits the perfect mix of boroughs and major stops, it’s less crowded than the 4 or 6, AND sometimes it runs as a pseudo 2/3/4. Which is terrific, because I can take that home from work, which is a very personal and biased thing to say but this is my list and I don’t give a fuck. What am I supposed to do, be objective about this? How the fuck can I do that? I’ve taken every single one of these fucking things on this list, so this is from my shitty experience and I’m sticking to it, so either agree or fuck off.

JFK air train — I found out there is an amazing monorail that goes from Jamaica straight to the terminals at JFK, and is a godsend. It’ll cost you a few bucks, but holy hell did my life improve when I found out about that. I don’t like to travel, and I mean sure I could hit an app on my phone to get the job done, but if you can get to Jamaica from the J or Z or E, then just do that then. And do not take the LaGuardia Link, because no one should ever use that airport. It’s falling apart, don’t even bother.

D train — The first orange line to make an appearance, good for you D train! When doing research about the history of the D, turns out it used to be on the yellow line but got changed for some reason. In any case, the cultural influence of this one is hard to deny, appearing in a Bob Dylan song, Beastie Boys song, Letterman top tens, Seinfeld episode, and in The Warriors. I haven’t had any real troubles on the D (so far) so it makes its way to the A tier, and you can take this thing all the way to the Bronx, further than the B, which is nice.

B TIER:

G train — I’ve taken the G once while apartment hunting. It’s the single rare train that goes vertical through Brooklyn and Queens, and really there should be more of that, honestly. No one wants to have to loop west and then up through Manhattan and then back east to Queens.

4 train — This is the more sporadic, crowded version of the 5, and while I do use it a lot, it can get packed, like ‘Japanese people with gloves shoving humans into the train’ levels of stupid packed.

3 train — Speaking of which, the 3 is the train I currently use. It’s pretty great, all things considering. Nobody takes it, it’s on time, never really breaks down, and as with all the numbered trains, you can see when the next one is coming. Unlike those stupid fucking lettered trains, idiots. But this one is spotty at best, a few times it pisses me off, because the 2 runs faster and there are more of them for some reason. I don’t know why, but whatever.

E train— Out of all the blue trains, this one goes the furthest, and reaches all the way out to Jamaica for people transferring to the LIRR or Air Train to JFK. It also goes through Queens, unlike the A in Brooklyn, so I’m inclined to pick this over the A and C. Nothing against them, but I’ve been on the A and it’s sometimes pretty…scary. Scary is the word I’ll use, sure.

M train— Are you seeing a trend here? Queens baby, represent for life. This one runs on the J/Z line, and is the best train on that track, and also runs through Queens so it’s all good with me. There are a couple of other orange line trains I hate, and the M is not one of them, so good job for not sucking M.

Taxis — You can make fun all you want, and say how the taxi industry is dying or dead. Fine, but not in New York. Still alive and well, as far as I can see. Hailing a cabbie is one of the quintessential acts a New Yorker can do, it’s something you have to experience once in your life. They’re just so god damn iconic, they got TVs in them now, they help when I’m running late to things, and I don’t care about the price, this shit is convenient. My dad only takes taxis around, doesn’t deal with the subway bullshit, and he doesn’t care about paying extra for the convenience. AND, I might add, taxis don’t go through your phone and invade your privacy like Uber! I will defend taxis as much as I can, and tourists give the city a ton of money by using them everywhere. Thanks, losers! Now get the fuck out of the way on the sidewalk, please, just fucking move or speed up. Get in your fucking taxi and go, get out of here.

C TIER:

Skateboarding — Not sure NYC is a great city for skateboarding, or really the east coast in general. Very much a west coast, California thing. And it peaked in the ’90s, and has never recovered, much like the Tony Hawk series. It’s just not cool anymore, and people don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. Accidents, bumping into pedestrians, long boards, I’m just over it. The whole thing, totally not into it. This isn’t college, sorry NYU students, this is where people live and walk, so go in the street and get hit by a truck for all I care.

6 train — I took the 6 a lot in the last few years, and take it to get to my relatives often. It’s the local green train on that track, and has a ton of stops, and goes slow. I even got stuck underground on it once, 10 feet from the platform, going home from work one day. An old woman died, had to be carted off the train by the cops. As much as I want to love the 6, I have to knock it. It pains me to do that.

A train

B train

1 train — These three trains I’ve taken the least, collectively, so they’re a blind spot for me. They seem average, totally acceptable and mediocre trains. Plenty of people use them, I’m sure they’re fine. Trust me, there are a lot of other way worse options, so don’t @ me with your pathetic stories to counter these rankings. I don’t give a shit.

R train — Why the fuck is every car on this thing old? Like, made in the ’70s old? It’s so bizarre, it’s like the only train where you can sit facing front or back, instead of on the sides like a normal train. Anyways, the R skips too many stops, and I don’t love its track. It’s a serviceable alternative, but god help you if you use it daily. Could you be any slower, R train? Let’s fucking go! The Q makes you look awful by comparison.

Chinese guy with the hand cart near the world’s largest Macy’s — This is dumb and still hilarious to me, that a guy can just run around with you and two wheels somewhere, while cars whiz by on the street. Don’t give these people money, come on now.

Horse carriage in Central Park — They’re getting rid of horses, and I’ve always wanted to try, but it’s cheesy Hollywood bullshit that looks tacky and ridiculous. Don’t do this either.

D TIER:

Walking — In order to live and work in New York City, anywhere, you have to walk a lot. A lot. And that sucks, because it hurts to exercise your legs that much. Too much walking, I don’t have the energy for this shit anymore. A few blocks, sure, but I have to walk a mile to and from work everyday, and my ankles and calves are KILLING me. Fuck walking. Total bullshit. Fucking tourists in the way, pigeons shit on your head, snow and garbage on the sidewalks, traffic doesn’t give a fuck about you, walking sucks.

F train — I hate this train, because it covers the worst geography out of any train. Who the fuck designed the track on a map for this fucking thing? It avoids all the places you need to go, and OF COURSE there is one near my office and OF COURSE nothing is near the F, so I can’t transfer. No, I’m not going to Manhattan to get on another train, fuck you F train, you’re a dumb piece of shit.

Double Decker Bus Tour — Hey, morons. Yeah you, fat mid-westerners, who paid someone to drive you and your fat kids around Manhattan on a Groupon deal you found one day, don’t fucking take bus tours! It’s real simple, you could simply stay in your state that votes for republicans every year, or take a healthy shit anywhere else.

L train — This would have been way higher if not for two things: way too many Brooklyn hipsters and gentrifying assholes take this train, and also, IT’S FUCKING SHUTTING DOWN IN 2019 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOPE SORRY you’re dead to me L, I hope you never come back so all the real estate drops in price and makes it easier to live in Brooklyn. Fuck anybody who lives near the L, you’re totally fucked now. Good luck getting to your job you chose your apartment and based your life around, that decision turned out well, didn’t it?

C train — Need I say more?

Z train — This train is a myth. It doesn’t run, and any train that you think says Z actually says J. It’s a typo, a mistake, a train that skips stops on one of the worst lines in public transportation history, but in fact does not exist and if it did, I’ve been taking a ghost train that makes me walk further or wait for the J, which ha ha yeah no that’s not happening. Fuck the Z, if and when it shows up.

Metro North — Nobody wants to go north of Yonkers, and if you do (to visit relatives) you have made a mistake, and should turn back now. If you still have to go, then get ready to pay an absorbent amount of money to go on a snail that breaks down, while traveling through the middle of nowhere to end up in hell. How Don Draper took that trip every day for work is probably why he drank, smoked, and fucked everything that moved.

Long Island Rail Road — As a Long Islander from birth, this is a real love/hate relationship. It’s been useful for my entire life, but also is the only real option to go to Islanders games, go into the city, and yet I can’t help but imagine what any of us did to deserve such a trash experience. I’ve had the LIRR go down in flames on me multiple times, been stranded in the middle of fucking Long Island, and also got kidnapped by a bus service the city of New York had to call in because the LIRR got snowed in. The LIRR has destroyed bridges, roads, been the way out for people committing suicide, and yet the LIRR still persists, hitting pedestrians left and right. It’s not quite F tier, because it is an option for ending your life and escaping the misery that is living in a Trump administration, so either you go on a nightmare of a train OR you leave our collective nightmare by jumping in front of one. By the way, my parents met on the LIRR, so that’s…something, I guess. Thanks LIRR? You get some nice views, get to go to the bathroom, some nice seats, but otherwise…yeah, no. No defense from me on this one.

F TIER:

Those fake black taxis that seem like Uber, but they’re not, and they act like real taxis, but rip you off — They are a scam. Tourists, don’t fall for that shit.

Citibike — The amount of fucking bikers has risen dramatically ever since these things showed up, and if you’re willing to NOT buy your own bike, and rent one, on a contraption that clogs up the streets and sidewalks, fuck you. Honestly, fuck you. Go use your bike lane and try not to get hit, but fuck Citibike, and anyone who uses it that I have to avoid.

Staten Island Railway — No one should ever go to Staten Island. That’s my goal in life, to never go and be a part of that “Burrough”. I don’t care that Wu Tang came from Shaolin, they clearly left and never came back, and for good reason. It’s like New York’s miniature New Jersey. Shame on you if you intentionally stay there.

The bus, any bus — Grey Hound, Mega Bus, any NYC city bus, doesn’t matter, all buses are gross and you’ve fucked up if you take one. Your in bad shape if you have to rely on a bus. If you’re poor, sure, I get it, they’re an option many are forced to use, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good. And if you DO NOT have to use them, then don’t. Just don’t. Too many people, fucking stopping everywhere, it’s a mess. I just feel bad for bus riders, I really do. I don’t want anyone to have to take the bus, it’s just the worst. We honor Rosa Parks by naming every bus station after her, and for good reason, but we should find a better symbol to name after her, and not the fucking bus station. She was more than that, don’t remember her for a horrible mode of transportation. Name a library after her, or a street, or something else! Anything else! Put her on the $20, fuck Andrew Jackson.

J train — This was my nickname for years because I complained about it so much. I had to take this fucking thing when I worked at AOL, and it was the bane of my existence. The J never comes on time, is super slow, is always delayed, has fucking train traffic (how does that work? There’s only one way to go, just fucking go!), and breaks down more than me on a Friday night out. Just terrible, the single worst subway in the city. Sure, you get a great view, and you’re above ground for most of it so you can use your phone. Except you’ll get your phone stolen before you get to Marcy Avenue, and there’s so many fucking people who take this thing you’ll never get a seat. So you have to stand for an hour plus, every day, back and forth, and it’s the most physically taxing thing imaginable. I’d consider quitting any job on the spot if I had to live near a J train stop, real talk. It’s emotionally draining. People TALK to you on this train. There are always street performers, beggars, smelly homeless, musicians, break dancers, comedians, panhandlers, salesmen, and religious hecklers on the J. It’s a traveling circus, with more track fires. It pains me to think humans have to rely on that fucking monstrosity, it’s what Satan must use to get around hell.

AMTRAK / New Jersey Transit / PATH train — God help your soul if you have to travel to New Jersey. Shame upon you if you chose to lower your costs and live in NJ to commute to NYC. New Jersey is the worst, and if the train derailments don’t kill you, the stampedes at Penn Station might. You’re better off never going back to New Jersey, and you should just become homeless trapped in Central Park. It’s better for you if you just do that, be like the pigeon lady from Home Alone 2. Don’t ever go to New Jersey. Ever. Or take those death traps that look like metal tubes to it.

Swimming — Do not swim in the Hudson or East River. Or the bay. Or anywhere, really. Go to a pool for that, not to get places. Dummy.