How we did it: Navigating from LaGuardia to NYC

This is two of a three-part series on navigating from New York’s airports. Read about Newark here and JFK here.

LaGuardia is the closest airport to Manhattan and offers a one-seat trip to the city by bus, but that may not be the best option depending on where you want to go. 

Public Transit
Follow the green signs for Ground Transportation. The M60 SBS travels between the airport and Manhattan. It connects to the N subway service in Astoria and most north/south subway lines in Manhattan as it travels along 125th Street. Select Bus Service has helped improve travel times, but I find it takes too long to get into the city.

Lately, I’ve switched to the Q70 SBS. It shuttles passengers between Roosevelt Ave and LaGuardia without any intermediary stops. I find the service provides much faster access to subways, which can get into the city faster than a bus. Fare: $2.75 (as of January 2018). 

SBS fares must be pre-purchased from kiosks at the stop with cash or credit. Metrocard fares include free transfer to subway or bus. Non-SBS fares paid on board must be paid in coins (no bills) and only include free transfer to bus.

NYC Airporter provides “official” service from the airport to 42nd street. At $16, we find this service inefficient and overpriced. Unless you’re staying near a drop-off location you will have to take public transit to your hotel. If you’re traveling with two or more people, you’re better off taking a taxi for nearly the same amount of money.
SuperShuttle also offers service direct to hotels for about the same price.

Taxi/Car Service
Taxis are metered and will cost between $25-$40 plus tolls (see below) to most points in Manhattan. 

You can also find reputable car services (black car) online. Often they are a few dollars cheaper than taxis and do not run on a meter, which means you don’t have to fear traffic. You can also tell these drivers to avoid the toll. This could be a better option for families or groups of two or more who don’t want to take public transit.

Uber, Lyft and other rideshare apps can pick up at LaGuardia, too, but the pick up area is far away.

Should I pay the toll?
As a passenger, it is your right to dictate the route away from tolls. From LaGuardia, this would be either the RFK Bridge or Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Both cost $5.76.

It might be appealing to avoid the toll by taking the free 59th Street Bridge, but I would let traffic conditions make the decision.

After speaking with several taxi drivers and independent experimentation, it actually cost less or about the same to take the toll when there is no traffic. This is because you spend less time waiting for lights and more time on the highway. As one driver explained ‘we like when customers want us to avoid the toll. It’s more money in our pocket instead of the [toll operator] MTA.”

This advice doesn’t apply to flat-fare trips with black car services. Since the fare is pre-negotiated it is in your best interest to avoid the toll, which you otherwise would be responsible for in addition to the fare.

Avoid anyone soliciting transportation. It is illegal and they may be uninsured. Check with a Port Authority Customer Care representative if you need any help. They’re wearing bright red blazers near a blue kiosk in the baggage area
How we did it: Navigating from LaGuardia to NYC How we did it: Navigating from LaGuardia to NYC Reviewed by Brandon on January 10, 2018 Rating: 5

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