New Yorkers talk about Manhattan locations in their own local lingo, using terms like East Side, West Side, uptown, downtown and midtown. Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station are two of the most important transportation hubs in Manhattan; one is east, one is west and both are in midtown. The distance between them is a walkable (and free) 1.2 miles, but there are other ways to go from one to the other.
Grand Central Terminal – East Side
The landmark terminal building at East 42nd Street and Park Avenue covers 47 acres, so there are several entrances to the building. Inside, commuters use 48 platforms on two levels for Metro-North trains serving suburban New York and Connecticut.
Penn Station – West Side
Beneath Madison Square Garden, Pennsylvania Station is between West 31st Street and West 34th Street from Seventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue. The building serves the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and several lines of the New York City subway.
Use a Taxi or Shared Car Service
In the 2019 New York state budget, a congestion surcharge applies to ride-hailing services and taxis when driving in Manhattan south of 96th Street. Passengers in Uber, Lyft and other app-based car services face a $2.75 charge per ride. Yellow taxis are levied with a $2.50 increase. Group ride services like Via and Uberpool are charged $0.75 per customer.
Connecting by MTA Bus
Exit Grand Central at East 42nd Street, proceed 0.2 miles by walking west to Fifth Avenue, then north to 45th Street to catch the M4 bus. Six stops later, get off at West 37th Street and Seventh Avenue for the four-minute walk to Penn Station. Buses run every five minutes and the total journey typically takes under 25 minutes, depending on the traffic and an individual's pace.
Connecting by MTA Subway
It's faster to go between the two train stations on the subway, although it does require a connection. Exit Grand Central at East 42nd Street for the MTA subway entrance. Board the Times Square Shuttle (marked "S") that connects under 42nd Street to Times Square. Frequency is approximately every five minutes, with shorter intervals at rush hour, for the non-stop journey of about 90 seconds. From Times Square at West 42nd Street, either walk to Penn Station or connect to the 1, 2 or 3 subway lines or the A, C, or E lines that go one stop to West 34th Street. From the exit, the entrance to Penn Station is a half-block south. Note that between midnight and 6 a.m. when the shuttle doesn't operate, the number 7 subway can be used instead.
Using Buses and Subways
The fare for a subway or local bus ride is $2.75, discounted from the single fare price of $3 when using a MetroCard. Purchase a MetroCard at a vending machine in the subway station or from an attendant in a manned information booth. Purchase a minimum of $5.50 to receive a 5 percent bonus. For example, a $20 purchase puts $21 on the card. Unlimited ride MetroCards are available for a week or a month. Enter by swiping the card (quickly) through the turnstile which will read "go" when the fare has registered. A new MetroCard costs $1, so keep the card and simply add more cash value to it. Keep in mind that transfers between buses and from subways to buses and vice versa are free. If you feel lost in the subway station, look for the large wall map of the entire system showing buses and details of the neighborhood.
Discounted MTA Fares
Seniors age 65 and over and qualifying disabled riders can use subways and buses for half-price with a personalized Reduced-Fare MetroCard which must be applied for and notarized, allowing two to four weeks for processing. Up to three children at 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult.