This post lists the best apps to navigate public transportation in New York City. Most are free and it's quite amazing how good they are.
These apps (for both iOS and Android) are among the best and can save you lots of time and confusion, leaving you more time to enjoy the city's sights and join one of our free NYC tours!
Before we get to the app list, you may also find these posts below very helpful.
- Navigating the New York Subway
- Which MetroCard is Right for You?
- Which Hop-on, Hop-Off Bus is Best?
- Getting Around NYC
- Where to Find Free Wi-Fi in New York
- Definitive Guide to Things to Do in NYC
Some of the best NYC subway apps are free and have been awarded prizes by the official subway system, the MTA.
You can find apps that provide you with subway maps and even city streets maps that will work even without Wi-Fi or data reception.
After trying many apps, we've narrowed the list down to these 8. These are the apps that we New Yorkers actually use!
Before we continue, would you like the option of a 1-hour subway tutorial tour?
Well, we have the tour for you.
Let Free Tours by Foot NYC, teach you the ins and outs of the system in just 60 minutes.
Free - iPhone, iPad & Android
Google Maps has come a long way in the past few years and its Navigation & Transit App has surpassed the usability of the Apple map that comes with your iPhone.
It is also compatible with your Android phone. (Note that Android users will have to register for a Google account to use the Google Maps app for Android. But it's worth it).
A picture speaks a thousand words so after this basic feature description below, watch the video to see how Google Maps can help you plan your transit route in New York City.
- Point A to Point B directions by the mode of transport you choose (drive, walk, bus/subway, bike, and even taxi!) You can add an additional destination for planning a 2-stop trip (Start at Point A, travel to B then continue onto Point C, final destination.
- Offers you different routes based on your preference. Would you rather walk a few more blocks to your subway station or bus stop? Or would you prefer to walk less but have to transfer between subway lines? You can customize almost everything!
- Real-time updates show estimated time of arrival, and so much more.
- It literally tells you (via voice feature) step-by-step instructions to get where you are going.
- Has offline capability for some functions.
Here are a few screenshots. It is an example of going from Lower Manhattan to the Empire State Building.
Screenshot #1 Enter your starting location in the top box. By default, the app uses your current location. By using the icons, choose the mode of transportation you want: Public Transportation, Walking, Taxi, Biking, and Driving (not shown).
For this example, we have chosen Public Transportation/Subway icon. The app offers a few routes along with travel time, distance to/from subway stations, and any other important information.
Screenshot #2 If you prefer to find out about routes with less walking or with fewer transfers, you use the Options function. You can choose also choose if you only want suggested routes with subways and not buses or vice versa.
For this example, we went with Best Route.
Screenshot #3 Once we have chosen the route we want (see Screenshot #1), Screenshot #3 shows incredibly detailed instructions, such as the number of minutes it takes to walk to the subway station.
It also shows what time the train is expected to arrive, and the number of stations in between your starting station and destination station.
With the Google Maps Navigator and Transit app, you really don't need anything else other than an itinerary of where you want to go.
Screenshot #1 Screenshot #2 Screenshot #3
Great feature Ideal for tourists because you don't need to know the address for major attractions or destinations.
Want to go to the Empire State Building? Just start typing in E-M-P and the app uses auto-predict to provide you with a choice of possible destinations, with Empire State Building coming up first. How easy is that?!?
TIP: If you are going to the Empire State Building, see our post with all the information you need, including how to save money on tickets.
Free - iPhone, iPad & Android.
This app keeps getting better and better.
As the official New York City TransportatiDepartmentent, the MTA, catches up with technology, this app integrates these changes in a very efficient way.
- Will show you the subway lines, bus lines, and even Uber taxis nearest your location on the street.
- It displays the real-time status of the different modes of transportation so you can decide if you want to go by bus, subway or taxi.
- You can customize what modes of transport are displayed and included in routing. For example, if you know you will not ever take the bus, just unselect BUS and this app won't even show you bus options. (Though you should give the NYC buses a chance. They are quite good).
- The app has a trip planner that shows you the best route. plot the best route.
- It also includes where the nearest Citibike docking station is. Citibike is NYC's bike-share program and you should take a look at it and also other bike rentals. See our post, Best Bike Rentals in New York City.
You can set it to alert you when you are nearing your destination, which is perfect for those who are unfamiliar with the city or who are prone to falling asleep on subways after a long day of walking around the city.
Free - iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Android.
This is an award-winning app for good reason (Apple's 2014 and 2013 Apps of the Year; Winner of the 2013 MTA App Quest competition).
An online reviewer said, "I'm practically married to this app." Citymapper has many of the same time-saving, convenient features that non-free apps do.
It also has some great features even fancier apps do not. You can use their homepage from your computer as it has the same functions as the app does.
The app is constantly expanding to cities throughout the world, so keep an eye on this app, it is literally going places.
- Suggests Point A to Point B trip routes with travel time and ETA including all modes of transport (bus, subway, train, ferry, taxi (Uber, Lyft, yellow cab), car share, bike share, and walking.
- Real-time departures. Subway line status and real-time disruption and delay alerts.
- Uber integration. Bike routing and live bike share info. Constant updates.
- Shows which train car is the best spot to be riding in to be closest to your train exit or transfer walkway (This is such a New Yorker thing! Always rushing!)
- Transit maps that can be accessed offline (Official NYC subway map, Manhattan bus map, Brooklyn bus map, Queens bus map).
- It has an alert function to let you know when you have reached your station.
Great feature Lets you choose your language! English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and more!
This is a fairly straightforward app that has many of the same features as other apps.
Its user interface is not complicated but not as user-friendly as Google Maps or Citymapper.
- The easy-to-use route planner will get you from A to B on the subway and works offline.
- Uses the official MTA map of the New York subway.
- Service Status information about any delays or changes with alerts sent straight to your phone.
- Search for a particular subway station or find the nearest station to your current location.
- Uber integration allows you to book a taxi within seconds and continue your journey after using the New York Subway.
Great feature: It offers information about out-of-service elevators and escalators. This is very important if you are traveling with a lot of luggage, or a baby stroller, or need a handicapped-accessible station.
TIP: Speaking of luggage, if you are looking for luggage storage locations, read Where to Store Luggage in New York City?
Free - iPhone and Apple Watch, premium paid version available
This app has all the bells and whistles of other apps with a clean and simple look.
One downside is that it is available only for iPhone and Apple Watch, with no Android version expected yet.
- Live bus and train times, see bus and train locations in real time.
- Schedule alarms and get reminders before your bus or train arrives.
- Service alerts for delays and route changes.
- Saves favorite stops and stations.
- Live directions with route options (fastest, trains only, buses only, walking, etc.).
- Both live and offline route maps.
- Get off alerts and live countdowns for arrival of buses and trains.
Great feature: Choose your own format for arrival time (Countdown, ETA, 12-hour clock, 24-Hour clock). And, for overseas travelers, you can set distance as U.S. miles/yards, U.K. miles/meters, and Metric km/meters.
Free - Android | Coming soon to iPhone
This highly popular app offers all you would want from a transit app.
Though it’s not available in iOS yet, it should be soon.
- Real-time arrivals, schedules and live transit status.
- Detailed alerts and notifications about transit changes and disruptions.
- Trip planner that includes Subway, Bus, Rail, Ferry, and Walking.
- Collection of officially licensed, high-resolution transit maps for all modes of transport.
Great feature: App has a crisp, pleasing user interface for easy viewing.
$2.99 iPhone, iPad, iPod touch.
Why it is worth the money: Many a tourist and locals alike have learned the hard way that not all subway stations have a crossover walkway to go in the opposite direction.
If you want to go uptown and enter the station thinking that once you are in the station and paid your fare you can find the uptown platform, be warned: there are some stations in the city where there is no crossover option.
Meaning once you've swiped your MetroCard and see you are on the downtown platform, the only way to get to the uptown platform that you need is to exit the station, cross the street and pay again to enter!
Even if you have an unlimited card, once you have swiped it, you cannot swipe again for 18 minutes.
KickMap will spare you the frustration and save you money by telling you in advance which stations have crossovers and which do not.
- NYC subway map works underground without an internet connection (connection only needed to look up street addresses and get live transit alerts)
- Directions without an internet connection are displayed right on the map
- Pop-up Google street map - Press any station for 3 seconds to see the local area
- Built-in Compass - Helps with an orientation at street-level
- GPS Locator - Shows closest subways stations
- Transit Alerts - Push notifications of delays for only the lines you choose
- Shows over 350 NYC Neighborhoods and Parks
Great feature 24-hour Day/Night maps - Automatically switch maps at 11 pm and 6 am
$3.99 iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, and BlackBerry.
For people visiting New York, you may be surprised to find out that our subway stations are quite long and offer multiple exits.
Leaving the station at the wrong exit can leave you blocks from your intended destination.
This app tells you exactly where on the platform you should board the train so that when you arrive at your destination stop – voila! – the desired exit is right there!
- Shows exit locations for all 469 subway stops in NYC.
- Neighborhood maps show subway exits/entrances at street level.
- No online connection required.
- Zoomable, scrollable and interactive MTA subway map and Manhattan street map.
- MTA bus maps for all five boroughs.
Great feature: Time-saver and saves you some unnecessary walking which is good for the weary traveler!
$3.99 a month ad-free for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Android or free with in-app purchases.
Moovit is a “one-stop-shop” app that provides step-by-step directions of the optimal route to get from Point A to Point B within New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.
It includes these modes of transportation: subway, bus, train, ferry, bike, rideshares, and even electric scooters!
Moovit provides real-time arrivals information, and importantly, it will send notifications to you if there are delays, service updates and more.
The app even provides real-time crowdedness - so you can avoid being squashed in a subway car!
The downside is that the free version has very short ads for in-app purchases which are disruptive to your transit planning.
- Real-time arrivals and real-time alerts. Receive service alerts such as emergency or unexpected disruptions, and delays.
- Step-by-step transit directions including the walking distance from where you are to the closest station.
- Receive get-off alerts as you near your stop.
- Save favorite lines, stations, and places.
- Maps view to see all stations and lines on the subway or bus map.
- Maps are available in PDF for when you’re offline, or underground on the subway.
Great Feature: Includes every form of transportation except your car!