Urban Transport, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Transportation
Urban Transport

Urban Transport
Busses. All major cities have set bus routes and fares, though it might be difficult to figure them out. Most busses will stop only at bus stops, which should have signs, or even shelters with benches. Bus companies publish route guides and schedules, which you can find at the public library or at the city hall or municipal building.

Subways. Cities that have subways, like New York, Boston, Washington, DC and Chicago, have personnel who can explain how to get around. Stations have route maps and instructions, often in several languages. You should be able to get a route map from a conductor or token booth attendant. In some subways you purchase a token from a booth or a vending machine, then deposit the token in a slot to gain entrance. Others, like New York's, require you to purchase a card that you swipe through an electronic reader to gain admission.

Many subways can be dangerous at certain times of the day, or in certain out-of-the-way locations, and you will have to learn how to ride them safely. There is no substitute for a knowledgeable local resident for this information.

Taxi service is the most expensive means of transport around cities (with the exception of limousines). Depending on local conditions and rules, you will either call a taxi by telephone or “hail” one on the street or at a taxi stand. The taxi will either have a meter to compute the fare (make sure your driver turns the meter on) or work on a zone system--the more zones you go through the more you pay. A tip of at least 10% is customary. Taxis are licensed by the city or town and will have stickers or posters with the rules hung prominently inside the cab. Taxi drivers in large cities frequently try to take advantage of foreigners. It is a safe tactic to take down the driver's or the cab's license number and make sure the driver sees you doing it. If you have a problem with a taxi driver, a policeman should be able to straighten it out for you.


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