Public Transportation English

“You can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.”

Erol Ozan, an American author

There are three ways to get from JFK Airport in New York to Manhattan. The first way is by cab. You can get a cab at the taxi stand. The fare is about 35$. The second way is by bus. You can catch a bus from the bus stop outside the airport. The ticket is about 13$. The bus will take you to a Manhattan train station or hotel. The third way is by subway. Go to the JFK Airport subway station. The subway will take you into Manhattan. This is the cheapest way. It costs only 2$.

 

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  1. a taxi stand (American English) = taxi rank (British English)
  2. a meter /ˈmiːtə(r)/
  3. the fare
  4. a cab / a taxi
  5. a cab driver / a taxi driver
  6. a passenger
  7. a bus stop
  8. a bus driver
  9. a bus
  10. a ticket window
  11. a ticket
  12. a train
  13. a conductor
  14. a track
  15. a strap
  16. a (subway) line
  17. a ferry
  18. a subway (train)
  19. a platform
  20. a token
  21. a fare card
  22. a schedule
  23. a turnstile

SUBWAY, UNDERGROUND, TUBE or METRO?

A subway (American English) is a railway that goes under the ground. The British word is underground.  Britons call the underground railway system in London the tube. A metro is the same as a subway or underground. In some cities this word is preferred (e.g. the Paris Metro).

TRANSPORT vs. TRANSPORTANTION

Transportation (American English; uncountable) = transport (British English; uncountable) – any type of vehicle that you can travel or carry goods in; a system for taking people or goods from one place to another; the activity of taking people or goods from one place to another in a vehicle:

  • Crime and fraud in transportation/transport are increasing. Going to work by bus was inconvenient, so I found another means of transportation/transport (a type/types of vehicle). 
  • Public transportation/transport sometimes makes me panicky. The square is accessible by public transportation/transport (the system).
  • Transportation/transport of refugees is a big problem. The transportation/transport cost is enormous (the activity).

GETTING AROUND

Jim: Look out for a taxi with a light on – that means it’s free.

Lola: I think the underground is probably the easiest way to get around the city.

Mike: We should get in soon. Let’s make our way to the front of the train.

Kimmy: Excuse me, what time does the train get into Cambridge?

Sam: Could you drop me off just before the traffic lights, please?

Nora: Are we supposed to hand in our tickets when we leave the station?

Nick: Excuse me. Do we have to buy a ticket before we get on the bus?

Sarah: The train leaves in half an hour, but we should make it if we get a move on.

Kevin: We’ll have to look up the times of the trains when we get to the station.

Ethan: The train was held up, and I only just got to the airport in the nick of time.

  • to look out for sth. – to try to find sth.
  • to get around – to go/travel to different places
  • to get in (when traveling on a train or coach (British English) / bus (American English), a large comfortable bus that carries passengers on long journeys) – to arrive + if you arrive at a place, you get into it.
  • to make one’s way – to start moving towards a place
  • to drop sb. off = to drop sb. – to stop driving so that a passenger can get out of your car
  • to hand sth. in – to give sth. to a person in authority
  • to get on (OPP to get off) + a train/bus/plane/bike/motorbike; to get in/into + a car/taxi/cab (OPP to get out of)
  • to make it – to succeed in reaching a place, especially when it’s difficult
  • to get a move on – to hurry up
  • to look up sth. – to find information in a dictionary, timetable or reference book
  • to hold sth. up – to cause a delay, to make sth. late
  • in the nick of time – at the very last moment

SCHEDULE vs. TIMETABLE

A schedule (American English) is the same as a timetable (British English) – a list of all the times when trains/boats/buses etc. are supposed to arrive at or leave a particular place:

According to the timetable, the bus should have come in at 8:00.

You can view the bus schedules on the website.

  • to come in – to arrive = to get in
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“On a bus your eyes, ears and pores are open, absorbing in the variety, the wonder and the magic of the city. It’s a wonderful way to get to know the city.” – George Takei, an American actor