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@pnc pnc/JFK.md
Last active Jun 8, 2019

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Prepare to spend a little cash on a wild ride. You are about to go from an expensive, Jet-A-enriched glass-and-steel shopping mall to an acoustic-tile-ceilinged underground train pit with a bowling alley on top.

Load up Google Maps and pick the result that has you taking AirTrain to Jamaica, and then a cluster of colorful names including Babylon, Hempstead, Long Beach, Port Jefferson, and Ronkonkoma to Penn Station.

🍹 True fact: Ronkonkoma isn't a real place!

Once in the baggage area of any of the terminals follow the signs for Ground Transportation and then AirTrain. Board (ticketless) a Jamaica Station-bound AirTrain. Do not board a Howard Beach-bound AirTrain. Once at Jamaica Station, swarm with the others to purchase a MetroCard of at least $5 value. I recommend just getting a $20 (plus $1.4536̅6̅ bonus!!!) card for your time here. The UI will try to create a false distinction between an "AirTrain MetroCard" and a normal MetroCard. Do not be fooled. You simply need a card with at least $5 value, and there is nothing special about an AirTrain MetroCard (unless you want to believe.)

The MetroCard is 25 years old! It could rent a car. If you're right-handed, lay it in your palm with the yellow/blue MetroCard side up. Tuck the notch into your thenar eminance. If you always keep the MetroCard side facing you, the magstripe is now correctly oriented for all three possible interactions: a slide (as when entering the subway), a horizontal dip (as on a vending machine), and a vertical dip (as when using the AirTrain turnstiles and local buses.) If you're left handed, snip the MetroCard into bits using your special left-handed scissors.

Vertically dip the MetroCard into the exit turnstile, allow it to be ingested and then wait for it to be expelled from the same reader. (If you've been to Washington D.C., this isn't like that.) Take your card, which triggers the gates to open.

You can now escape the AirTrain system by making a slight left past a Tim Horton's [1] (don't go down the escalators or stairs) into a Long Island Railroad train station, which will be full to the brim with pigeons. Walk through the pigeon gauntlet, perpendicular to all of the tracks, to about midway across the mezzanine. Locate a Long Island Railroad (LIRR) ticket vending machine and buy yourself a One-Way Off Peak [2] ticket from Jamaica to Penn Station.

Check the track monitors for the track number of the next (any of the line names will do, they all go the same place) New York - Penn Station bound train. Walk down onto that track and board the train when it arrives. If the doors of the car you wish to board do not open, walk briskly towards the center of the train until you find open doors.

[1] This is one of the only Tim Hortons I know of in the U.S.A. Consider getting some Timbits!

[2] Unless it is before 10am, then buy a One-Way Peak ticket.

Welcome to LaGuardia, an airport described by former Vice President Joe Biden as "from a third-world country"!

I'm assuming that you will follow along with Google Maps directions. It will offer two routes to your hotel, one beginning with the M60 bus and one beginning with the Q70. You want the Q70 route. It is less pretty than the M60 route, but it is faster, and it does not involve a transfer near an oddly threatening abandoned PathMark in East Harlem.

The route should be: Q70 Select Bus Service (SBS) (a.k.a +LaGuardia Link) to Jackson Heights - Roosevelt Avenue, and then the (F) train.

💁‍♀Tip: Sound like a local! For some reason, nobody ever refers to the colors of the subway routes, only the numbers, or the group of numbers if the same trains all go the direction you're headed. E.g., say "the four-five-six" to refer to the green 4, 5, and 6 lines. If you say "green lines," people will know what you mean, but they will suspect you may be from Boston. This is not necessarily to your advantage.

To ride the Select Bus, you need to first purchase a MetroCard and then purchase a receipt for the bus prior to boarding.

👉 Requiring you to purchase a receipt before boarding helps the boarding process go faster, as you can board using any door, front or back, and you don't need to swipe your MetroCard to board. Not all buses in New York are like this, so if you ride a local bus, enter through the front door and dip your MetroCard in the slot.

In the terminal, follow signs for Ground Transportation / NYC Bus. Depending on the terminal, the bus may stop on the departures or arrivals level, so if you are directed to go downstairs (to exit the security one-way valve) and then back upstairs (signs for bus), know that you are experiencing decades of design accretia.

You will probably walk down a really long hallway that is very much under construction. You’ll come to automatic doors that lead outside. Ignore these and follow the hallway as it curves left. There is baggage stuff here. Look to the right—there should be a MetroCard Vending Machine near the doors:

MVM

If it’s broken, ask one of the baggage counter people where a working machine is. A $20 (+ $1 new card fee) MetroCard should last you the week. You can pay with a debit/credit card unless the machine tells you otherwise USING A MODAL DIALOG when you first begin interacting with it. Actually the whole interface is just a SERIES OF MODAL DIALOGS.

Once you have your MetroCard, go out the doors to the bus shelter. Depending on your terminal, you may need to cross several lanes of threatening taxi/FHV traffic. Near the bus shelter, there are two machines, one of which looks like this:

SBSM

The other, differently shaped machine is similar, but it takes change, which scares me. Neither of them take debit or credit cards, see "design accretia" above.

Press the physical Start button (I don’t know why; if you can figure out what threat model this protects against, please let me know) and insert your fresh MetroCard into the slot. The machine should issue you a flimsy receipt. TAKE AND KEEP THIS RECEIPT. You’ll need to present it if the EAGLE TEAM (they’re really called that) boards the bus and verifies tickets. Take your MetroCard also.

👽 Fun tip: The MetroCard is 25 years old! It could rent a car. If you're right-handed, lay it in your palm with the yellow/blue MetroCard side up. Tuck the notch into your thenar eminance. If you always keep the MetroCard side facing you, the magstripe is now correctly oriented for all three possible interactions: a slide (as when entering the subway), a horizontal dip (as on a vending machine), and a vertical dip (as when using a local bus.) If you're left handed, snip the MetroCard into bits using your special left-handed scissors.

Wait for the bus. The M60 stops at the airport too—don’t take that. When the bus comes, you can board using the front or back doors, it doesn’t matter—you don’t need to show your receipt unless the Eagle Team happens, and you’ll know if that happens. If you have a duffel or lightweight luggage, I like to stand in the articulated vestibule and hold on to the yellow things. Plus it’s fun to travel at highway speeds inside an accordion, and nobody else stands there because the floor moves.

The bus will move glacially until it clears LaGuardia traffic. It will then proceed fairly quickly to the subway stop at Jackson Heights. Exit the bus with everyone else and head inside to the turnstiles. Swipe your MetroCard again (it will be free this time; 1 XFER, it will say) and follow signs for the Manhattan/Kings Hwy-bound F train.

🇺🇸 Pace yourself: Swipe at a steady speed and not super fast, accelerating if it says SWIPE AGAIN THIS TURNSTILE or anything. Like pie dough and wolves, the card readers can smell fear but react to confidence with obedience.)

Once you board the F train, ride to 34th St - Herald Square, exit, and walk to your hotel, and wash your hands.

I’m very excited to have you visit! If you get lost, feel free to call. I am happy to come up and meet you if you are confused.

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