Mass transit in New York City
Learn more about Mass transit in New York City
New York City's public transportation network is the most extensive in North America. About one in every three users of mass transit in the United States and two-thirds of the nation's rail riders live in New York and its suburbs. Data from the 2000 U.S. Census reveals that New York is the only locality in the United States where more than half of all households do not own a car (the figure is even higher in Manhattan, over 75 percent). While nearly 90 percent of Americans drive to their jobs, mass transit is the primary form of travel for New Yorkers. As a result of New York's uniquely high rate of public transit use it is one of the most energy efficient cities in the country. Gas consumption in New York, for example, is at the rate the national average was in the 1920s.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates most of New York City's transit systems. Using census data, the MTA reported in August 2006 that ridership on its buses, subways and commuter trains in recent years has grown faster than population growth, indicating that more New Yorkers are chosing to use mass transit. The MTA attributed the ridership gains to the introduction of the MetroCard in 1995, and the replacement of more than 2,800 subway and train cars since 2000. From 1995 to 2005, the authority said, ridership on city buses and subways grew by 36%, compared with a population gain in the city of 7%. In the suburbs, it said, a 14% increase in ridership on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road outpaced a suburban population gain of 6%.<ref>"M.T.A. Ridership Grows Faster Than Population." 24 August 2006 The New York Times.</ref> Ridership in the city grew to 2.2 billion annual riders from 1995 to 2005.<ref>"MTA Ridership takes Express with 31% Surge." 24 August 2006 The New York Post.</ref>
 Transit culture
With nearly 4.5 million people riding the transit network each weekday, the system is a major venue for commerce, entertainment and political activism. Life in the city is so dependent on the subway that New York City is home to two of only three 24 hour subway systems in the world. Campaigning at subway stations is a staple of New York elections akin to candidate appearances at small town diners during presidential campaigns in the rest of the country. Each week, more than 100 musicians and ensembles - ranging in genre from classical to Cajun, bluegrass, African, South American and jazz - give over 150 performances sanctioned by New York City Transit at 25 locations throughout the subway system. There are of course many more who are unauthorized performers, ranging from professionals putting on an impromptu show to panhandlers seeking donations by way of a song.
One outcome of the city's extensive mass transit use is a robust local newspaper industry. The readership of many New York dailies is comprised in large part by transit riders who read during their commutes. The three-day transit strike in December 2005 briefly depressed circulation figures, underscoring the relationship between the city's commuting culture and newspaper readership.
The subways of New York have been venues for beauty pageants and guerrilla theater. The MTA's annual Miss Subways contest ran from 1941 to 1976 and again in 2004 (under the revised name "Ms Subways"). Past Ms Subways winners include Eleanor Nash, an FBI clerk described by her poster that hung in subway cars in 1960 as "young, beautiful and expert with a rifle." The 2004 Ms Subways winner, Caroline Sanchez-Bernat, was an actress who played a role in Sunday Brunch 4. The 35-minute piece of performance art was a full enactment of a Sunday brunch — including crisp white tablecloth, spinach salad appetizer and attentive waiter in black tuxedo — performed aboard a southbound A</pre> train in 2000. With subway riders looking on, the actors chatted amiably about Christmas, exchanged gifts and signed for a package delivered by a UPS man who entered the scene at the West 34th Street stop.
 Fare collection
The MetroCard is the current payment method for New York City subways and buses. It is a thin, plastic card on which the customer electronically loads fares. Payment may be made at automated machines that accept money, credit cards, and debit cards. Variable pay schemes are available; cards with more pre-paid rides offer greater discounts. The MetroCard was introduced to enhance the technology of the transit system and eliminate the burden of carrying and collecting tokens. The use of tokens in New York's transit system was discontinued in 2003.
 The future of the MetroCard
In 2006 New York City's two main transportation systems announced plans to introduce smart cards for paying fares. In Februrary the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled a $73 million smart card system in the PATH station at the World Trade Center.
The PATH "SmartLink" card contains an antenna attached to a computer chip, which can be read by turnstiles without requiring passengers to swipe cards. The "SmartLink" card will eventually replace the magnetic-strip QuickCard accepted at PATH turnstiles.
The New York City subway and bus network will eventually use this same technology. A consortium of New York metropolitan transit agencies, including the Port Authority and New Jersey Transit, will test different versions and introduce a single standard. In the future all New York City area transit systems will use the same "contactless" payment system.
 Metropolitan Transportation Authority
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a New York State public benefit corporation tasked with providing mass transit in the New York City metropolitan area through its various subsidiary agencies.
- MTA Metro-North Railroad provides commuter service from The Bronx, Westchester County and southern Connecticut into Grand Central Terminal. Three main lines terminate in Poughkeepsie, Wassaic, and New Haven. The lattermost line has connecting branches to New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury in Connecticut. In partnership with New Jersey Transit, it also provides commuter services into Hoboken, New Jersey from Port Jervis and Spring Valley.
- MTA Long Island Rail Road provides extensive commuter service to most of Long Island, with destinations in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk via two trunk lines and six subsidiary branches.
- MTA New York City Transit provides extensive fixed-fare subway and bus service throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The subway system is one of the largest in the world, with over 720 miles of track and more than 400 stations. The free (except at St. George, and Ballpark) Staten Island Railway, part of this system, provides north-south commuter service the entire length of Staten Island.
- MTA Bus Company provides fixed-fare bus service throughout four boroughs of New York City. MTA Bus is the operator of those bus routes previously operated by private companies under contract to the New York City Department of Transportation.
 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates three rail systems:
- PATH, an electric railroad connecting Manhattan to New Jersey
- AirTrain JFK, a rapid transit system connecting the terminals and parking areas at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Jamaica, and Howard Beach, Queens
- AirTrain Newark, a monorail connecting the terminals and parking areas at Newark Liberty International Airport and the Newark Liberty International Airport train station on the Northeast Corridor.
The Port Authority also owns and operates the three major airports in the New York City area. Regional bus service to New Jersey, upstate New York, the Midwest, and Canada travels from the Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square and the smaller George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal.
 New Jersey Transit
- Main article: New Jersey Transit
New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) provides extensive commuter rail service from northern and central New Jersey to Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. NJ Transit also has an extensive network of bus routes radiating in and out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the George Washington Bridge Bus Station. In addition to buses and commuter trains, NJ Transit also operates three light rail systems in the state.
- The Northeast Corridor Line provides electric rail service between Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and Trenton. At Trenton, riders can connect to SEPTA and Amtrak.
- The North Jersey Coast Line provides electric rail service between Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and Long Branch. Diesel service is provided between Long Branch and Bay Head or Hoboken and Bay Head.
- The Raritan Valley Line provides diesel rail service between High Bridge, Raritan, and Newark Penn Station. Certain weekend trips continue to Hoboken Terminal
- The Pascack Valley Line provides diesel rail service between Spring Valley, NY and Hoboken Terminal.
- The Bergen County Line, Main Line and Port Jervis Line provide diesel rail service between Port Jervis, NY and Hoboken. NJ Transit has a partnership with Metro North Railroad in which they provide the facilities necessary for stations within the state of New York north of Suffern, New York.
- The Montclair-Boonton Line provides electric rail service between Hackettstown, Dover, Montclair, and either Hoboken Terminal or Pennsylvania Station (Manhattan). Trains designated MidTOWN DIRECT are the ones that will terminate at Pennsylvania Station.
- The Morris and Essex Lines provide electric rail service between Hackettstown or Gladstone and Hoboken or New York Penn Station. Trains designated MidTOWN DIRECT are the ones that will terminate at Pennsylvania Station.
- The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system operates along the west bank of the Hudson River, connecting the communities of Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City and North Bergen.
- The Newark Light Rail system, formerly the Newark City Subway, is a light rail system connecting Downtown Newark, Newark Broad Street Station (serving the Morris and Essex Lines and the Montclair-Boonton Line), and Newark Penn Station (serving Amtrak, PATH, and NJ Transit's Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, and Raritan Valley Lines) with neighboring Belleville and Bloomfield.
 Inter-City Rail
Amtrak provides long-distance passenger rail connections from New York's Pennsylvania Station to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, New England, Upstate New York, Montreal, Toronto, Florida, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago and the Midwest. For trips of less than 500 miles, Amtrak is often cheaper and easier than air travel, and sometimes faster if travel to and from the airport and security check-in times are included. Amtrak's high-speed Acela service from New York to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington uses tilting technology and fast electric locomotives. This route, known as the Northeast Corridor, accounts for about half of Amtrak's ridership and covers its own operating, but not capital, costs.
 Other transit
Other transit in the city includes:
- The Roosevelt Island Tramway, an aerial commuter tram connecting Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. Connecting Bus Service is available on the Island.
- The Staten Island Ferry, a free ferry operated by the New York City Department of Transportation connecting St. George and the Staten Island Railway in Staten Island to South Ferry in Manhattan.
- NY Waterway, SeaStreak, and New York Water Taxi, commercial ferry systems.
- The Bee-Line Bus System, connecting New York City and Westchester County.
- The Hampton Jitney, a private bus service used primarily for vacations and day trips from New York City to the Hamptons on Long Island.
- The Downtown Connection, a free shuttle bus service in lower Manhattan operated by the Downtown Alliance.
- Coach USA and Atlantic Express privately-operated commuter bus lines with service to New Jersey. Several private bus companies also operate shuttles to area airports.
- US Helicopter, a private scheduled helicopter service operating from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport and the 34th Street Heliport to area airports and Connecticut.
- Private Transportation operates a route between Borough Park and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. This route does not operate during the sabbath.
 Major transit terminals
There are several major transit terminals in the New York metropolitan area. They include train stations, bus terminals, and ferry landings.
 Train stations
- Pennsylvania Station, which is served by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and the New York City Subway
- Grand Central Terminal, which is served by Metro-North Railroad and the New York City Subway
- Jamaica Station, which is served by Long Island Railroad, New York City Subway, and AirTrain JFK
- Flatbush Avenue, which is served by the New York City Subway and Long Island Railroad
- Harlem-125th Street, which is served by Metro-North Railroad and New York City Subway.
- Secaucus Junction allows passengers on the New Jersey Transit Port Jervis, Pascack Valley, Main and Bergen County Lines to make a swift connection to certain Pennsylvania Station-bound trains for an easier commute into New York City. It also enables transfers between those lines and trains serving Newark Airport and southern New Jersey.
- Hoboken Terminal, which is served by New Jersey Transit, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, PATH and NY Waterway ferries to New York City
- Newark Penn Station, which is served by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit commuter rail, Newark City Subway and PATH
 Bus terminals
- Port Authority Bus Terminal, served by commuter and intercity buses
- George Washington Bridge Bus Station, also served by commuter and some intercity buses
- Chinatown, including the corner of East Broadway and Forsyth Street, where several intercity Chinatown buses have a common terminus.
 Ferry landings
- South Ferry, served by the Staten Island Ferry
- Piers 11 and 78
- South Street Seaport
- East 34th Street Ferry Landing
- Hoboken Terminal
- Port Imperial in Weehawken, NJ, served by NY Waterway, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and NJ Transit Bus services
 Expansion plans
There are several proposals for expanding the New York City transit system that are in various stages of planning or initial funding:
- PATH World Trade Center station, whose construction began in late 2005, will replace the PATH terminal destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks with a new central terminal designed by Santiago Calatrava that will allow easy transfer between the PATH system, several subway lines and proposed new projects. It is expected to serve 250,000 travelers daily.
- Moynihan Station would expand Penn Station into the James Farley Post Office building across the street.
- Second Avenue Subway, a new north-south line, first proposed in 1929, would run from 125th Street to Hanover Square in lower Manhattan.
- East Side Access project, would route some Long Island Railroad Trains to Grand Central Terminal instead of Penn Station. Since many LIRR commuters work on the east side of Manhattan, many in walking distance of Grand Central, this proposal would save considerable travel time and would reduce congestion at Penn Station and on subway lines connecting it with the east side.
- AirTrain JFK to lower Manhattan would extend the existing Long Island Railroad line from Jamaica Station to downtown Manhattan via a new 3-mile tunnel under the East River. AirTrain-compatible cars would run along the new route, connecting John F. Kennedy International Airport and Jamaica with lower Manhattan.
- Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel (THE Tunnel) would add a second pair of railroad tracks to the Northeast Corridor under the Hudson River from New Jersey, connecting to an expanded Penn Station.
- Although New York City does not have light rail as of 2005, there are plans to convert 42nd Street into a light rail transit mall which would be closed to all vehicles except emergency vehicles.  The idea was previously planned in the early 1990s, and was approved by the City Council in 1994, but was cancelled due to lack of funds.
- Fulton Street Transit Center, a $750 million project in Lower Manhattan that will improve access to and connections between 12 subway lines, PATH service and the World Trade Center site. Construction began in 2005 and will be finished in 2008.
 See also
- Dollar van
- Transportation in New York City
- New York City Subway
- Port Authority Trans-Hudson
- Long Island Rail Road
- Transportation to New York City area airports, which details bus and rail connections to the three major area airports