New York City Subway

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New York City Subway <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center;">Image:Subway.JPG</td></tr>
Locale New York City
Transit type Rapid transit<tr><th style="white-space: nowrap;">Began operation</th><td>first section of subway: October 27, 1904

first elevated operation: July 3, 1868
first railroad operation: October 9, 1863<ref>The IRT main line, which is considered to be the first New York City "subway" line, opened in 1904; however, the Ninth Avenue Line, a predecessor elevated railroad line, operated its first trial run on July 3, 1868, according to Facts and Figures 1979-80, published by the New York City Transit Authority See also, and the West End Line railroad opened in 1863. A small portion of the latter line's original right-of-way is still in daily use near Coney Island.[1]</ref></td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap;">System length</th><td>656 mi (1056 km) (revenue)
842 mi (1355 km) (total)</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap;">No. of lines</th><td>26</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap;">No. of stations</th><td>468</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap;">Daily ridership</th><td>4,800,000 (avg. weekday, 2006, including Staten Island Railway)<ref>"MTA NYC Transit - Info" Retrieved June 21, 2006.</ref></td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap;">Track gauge</th><td>1435 mm (4 ft 8½ in) (standard gauge)</td></tr>

Operator New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA)

The New York City Subway system is a rapid transit system operated by the New York City Transit Authority, an affiliate of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as MTA New York City Transit. Combined with its bus operations, it is one of the most extensive public transportation systems in the world, with 468 reported passenger stations.<ref></ref> There are 656 miles (1056 km) of revenue track, and a total of 842 miles (1355 km) including non-revenue trackage.

Though it is known as "the subway," implying underground operations, about 40% of the system runs on above-ground rights-of-way, including steel and occasionally cast iron elevated structures, concrete viaducts, earthen embankments, open cuts and, occasionally, surface routes. All of these modes are completely grade-separated from road and pedestrian crossings, and most crossings of two subway tracks are grade-separated with flying junctions.

In September 2006, average weekday ridership was 5,076,000, the highest figure since such numbers were first recorded in 1970. <ref></ref>


[edit] History

The first underground line of the subway opened on October 27, 1904, almost 35 years after the opening of the first elevated line in New York City, which became the IRT Ninth Avenue Line. The oldest structure still in use today opened in 1885 as part of the Lexington Avenue Line, and is now part of the BMT Jamaica Line in Brooklyn. The oldest right-of-way, that of the BMT West End Line, was in use in 1863 as a steam railroad called the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Rail Road. Subway cars (R44s) currently operate on the Staten Island Railway, opened in 1860, but that is not usually considered part of the subway system.

By the time the first subway opened, the lines had been consolidated into two privately owned systems, Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT, later Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, BMT) and Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). The city was closely involved: all lines built for the IRT and most other lines built or improved for the BRT after 1913 were built by the city and leased to the companies. The first line of the city-owned and operated Independent Subway System (IND) opened in 1932; this system was intended to compete with the private systems and allow some of the elevated railways to be torn down.

In 1940, the two private systems were bought by the city; some elevated lines closed immediately, and others closed soon after. Integration was slow, but several connections were built between the IND and BMT, and they now operate as one division called Division B. Since the IRT tunnel segments and stations are too narrow to accommodate Division B cars, it remains its own division, Division A.

The New York City Transit Authority was created in 1953 to take over subway, bus, and streetcar operations from the city, and was placed under control of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968.

In 1934, the BRT, IRT, and IND transit workers unionized into Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union. Since then, there have been three union strikes. In 1966, transit workers went on strike for 12 days, and again in 1980 for 11 days.<ref></ref> On December 20, 2005, transit workers again went on strike over disputes with MTA regarding salary, pensions, retirement age, and health insurance costs. That strike lasted just under three days.

[edit] Overview

Image:South ferry.jpg
South Ferry station and a 9 train. (Route number later discontinued in May 2005).

Subway stations are located throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. All services pass through Manhattan, except for the Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown Local (G), which connects Brooklyn and Queens directly without entering Manhattan, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, and the Rockaway Park Shuttle. Although a few stations close overnight or on weekends, the New York City subway is among the few rapid transit systems in the world that operate 24 hours a day, along with PATH (connecting New Jersey with Manhattan) and PATCO (linking Philadelphia with southern New Jersey). (Two individual lines of the Chicago 'L' also run at all times.)<ref></ref>

Many lines and stations have both express and local service. These lines have three or four tracks: the outer two for local trains, and the inner one or two for express trains. Stations served by express trains are typically major transfer points or destinations. The BMT Jamaica Line uses skip-stop service on portions, in which two services operate over the line during rush hours, and minor stations are only served by one of the two. The IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line used skip-stop until May 27, 2005.

Image:NYC subway simplified map 50pct-optimized.png
A simplified map, color-coded by services and showing major stations only

A typical subway station has waiting platforms ranging from 400 to 700 feet (122 to 213 m) long to accommodate large numbers of people. Passengers enter a subway station through stairs towards station booths and vending machines to buy their fare, currently via the MetroCard. After swiping the card at a turnstile, customers continue to the platforms. Some subway lines in the outer boroughs and northern Manhattan have elevated tracks with stations to which passengers climb up.

A typical subway train has from 8 to 11 cars, although shuttles can have as few as two, and the train can range from 150 to 600 feet (46 to 183 m) long. As a general rule, trains on the lines inherited from the IRT (the numbered lines) are shorter and narrower than the trains that operate on the IND/BMT lines (those designated with letters). Since the original IRT sections—with narrower tunnel segments, tighter curves, and tighter platform clearances than the BMT/IND sections—are integral parts of the modern Division A, these lines do not run the wider Division B (IND/BMT) cars, although all of the IRT built under the Dual Contracts could technically handle Division B cars. Division A trains cannot run in revenue service on Division B routes due to the large gap that would result between the platform and train. All service and maintenance trains, however, are comprised of Division A cars, as these can fit the tunnels of all lines.

Subway tunnels were constructed using a variety of methods. When the IRT subway debuted in 1904, typical tunnel construction was the cut-and cover method. The street was torn up to dig out the tunnel below, then the street was rebuilt above. This method worked well for soft dirt and gravel near the street surface. However, thicker sections made of bedrock required tunnel boring machines.

Most stations are not handicapped accessible. The exceptions are new construction and "key stations", as required by the ADA. See New York City Subway accessibility for more details.

In 2002, an average of 4.5 million passengers used the subway every weekday.

In 1994, the subway system introduced a fare system called the MetroCard, which allows riders to use cards that store the value equal to the amount paid to a station booth clerk or to a vending machine. The MetroCard was enhanced in 1997 to allow passengers to make free transfers between subways and buses within two hours; several MetroCard-only transfers between subways were also added. The token was phased out in 2003. The same year, the MTA raised the basic fare to $2 amid protests from passenger and advocacy groups such as the Straphangers Campaign. In 2005, the MTA increased the prices of unlimited Metrocards, but left the base fare at $2.00.

In the early 21st century, plans resurfaced for a major expansion, the Second Avenue Line. This line had been planned as early as the 1920s but has been delayed several times since. Construction was started in the 1970s, but discontinued due to the city's fiscal crisis. Some small portions remain intact in Chinatown, the East Village, and the Upper East Side, but they are each quite short and thus remain unused.<ref></ref>

In the mid-2000s, the MTA began a 20-year process of automating the subway. Beginning with the BMT Canarsie Line (L</pre>), the MTA has plans to eventually automate a much larger portion, using One Person Train Operation (OPTO) in conjunction with Communications-based Train Control (CBTC). Siemens Transportation Systems Group will be building the CBTC system. A 1959 experiment in automating the 42nd Street Shuttle in New York City ended with a fire at Grand Central Terminal on April 24, 1964.)

Image:NYC subway riders with their newspapers.jpg
The interior of an F</pre> train during morning rush hour.

On July 22, 2005, in response to bombings in London, United Kingdom, the New York City Police Department introduced a new policy of randomly searching passengers' bags as they approached turnstiles. The NYPD claimed that no form of racial profiling would be conducted when these searches actually took place. This has caused the NYPD to come under fire because these searches were deemed ineffectual if racial profiling was not used. "This NYPD bag search policy is unprecedented, unlawful and ineffective," said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. "It is essential that police be aggressive in maintaining security in public transportation. But our very real concerns about terrorism do not justify the NYPD subjecting millions of innocent people to suspicionless searches in a way that does not identify any person seeking to engage in terrorist activity and is unlikely to have any meaningful deterrent effect on terrorist activity."<ref> North Country Gazette]</ref>

In August 2006 the MTA revealed that all future subway stations, including ones built for the Second Avenue subway, the No. 7 line extension, and the new South Ferry station, will have platforms outfitted with air-cooling systems.<ref></ref>

Pending legislation would merge the subway operations of MTA New York City Transit with Staten Island Railway to form a single entity called MTA Subways.<ref></ref> The Staten Island Railway operates with R44 subway cars on a fully grade-separated right-of-way, but is typically not considered part of the subway, and is connected only via the free, city-operated Staten Island Ferry.

[edit] Lines and routes

Many rapid transit systems run relatively static routings, so that a train "line" is more or less synonymous with a train "route". In New York, routings change often as new connections are opened or service patterns change. The "line" describes the physical railroad line or series of lines that a train "route" uses on its way from one terminal to another.

"Routes" (also called "services") are distinguished by a letter or a number. "Lines" have names.

For example, the "D train," "D route," or "D service," though it can be colloquially called the "D line," runs over the following "lines" on its journey:

There are 26 train services in the subway system, including three short shuttles. Each route has a color, representing the Manhattan trunk line of the particular service; a different color is assigned to the Crosstown Line (G) route, since it does not operate in Manhattan, and shuttles are all colored dark gray. Each service is also named after its Manhattan (or crosstown) trunk line, and is labeled as local or express.

Trains are marked by the service label in either black or white (for appropriate contrast) on a field in the color of its mainline. The field is enclosed in a circle for most services, or a diamond for special services, such as rush-hour only expresses on a route that ordinarily runs local. Rollsigns also typically include the service names and terminals. When the R44 and R46 cars were rebuilt the rollsigns on the side of the cars were replaced with electronic signs while the front service sign remained as a rollsign. All cars built since 1999, including the R142, R142A, R143, and R160, are equipped with digital signs on the front, sides, and interior. These newer cars also feature recorded announcements in lieu of conductor announcements, although live conductor announcements can still be made.

New Yorkers usually refer to each line by the designator and the word train, i.e. the "A train", which can be used to refer to both a single train, "I'm on an A train", or the route, "take the A train." New Yorkers may often shorten the expression to simply the line's designation. For example: "Take the A to the 1" would mean to "Take the A train and transfer to the 1 train." The lines are not referred to by color (e.g., Blue line or Green line), although the colors are often named through their groups ("Take the A-C-E" or "4-5-6", etc).

Division A (IRT) consists of:

Division B (BMT/IND) consists of:

Projected Division B service:

Division C consists of non-revenue operations, including track maintenance and yard operations.

[edit] Rolling stock

The New York City subway has the world's largest fleet of subway cars. Over 6,400 cars (as of 2002) are on the NYCT roster. Cars purchased by the City of New York since the inception of the IND and for the other divisions beginning in 1948 are identified by the letter "R" followed by a number; e.g.: R32. This number is the contract number under which the cars were purchased. Cars with nearby contract numbers (e.g.: R1 through R9) may be virtually identical, simply being purchased under different contracts. Subway car models begin with the letter "R" and are followed by the last 2 or 3 digits of the contract number under which they were purchased. The "R" stands for Revenue service as originally used by the IND, however, others feel it now stands for Rolling Stock since the "R" is used on contracts for the purchase of anything that deals with subway and work cars (e.g. cars, wheels, other parts).

The system maintains two separate fleets of cars, one for the IRT lines, another for the BMT/IND lines. All IRT equipment is approximately 8'9" (~2.67m) wide and 51' (~15.5m) long while all operating BMT/IND equipment is about 10 feet (~3.0 meters) wide and either 60 feet 6 inches (18.4 meters) or 75 feet (~22.8 meters) long.

Though the equipment of the two fleets can operate on the same tracks, the key impediment to interoperation is the fact that the original two subway contracts built for the IRT were built to a smaller profile. This is because the IRT chose to use equipment substantially the same size as that already in use on all the pre-existing elevated railway lines in the city. This profile was consistent with older lines in operation in Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.

When the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company entered into agreements to operate some of the new subway lines, they made the decision to design a new type of car, 10 feet wide and 67 feet long, the subject of several patents, whose larger profile was more similar to that of steam railroad coaches, permitting greater passenger capacity, more comfortable seating and other advantages. The BRT unveiled its design to the public in 1913 and received such wide acceptance that all future subway lines, whether built for the BRT, the IRT or eventually, the IND, were built to handle the wider cars.

As a result, while most of the IRT lines could accommodate the larger BMT/IND equipment with modifications to the station platforms and trackside furniture, this is not deemed feasible, because the original, narrower, subway includes portions of both IRT Manhattan mainlines, as well as a critical part of the Brooklyn lines. This could be remedied, but at very great expense. On the other hand, it would be relatively easy to convert many of the Bronx lines for BMT/IND operation; some of the plans for the Second Avenue Line have included a conversion of the IRT Pelham Line.

[edit] Trivia

  • According to the United States Department of Energy, energy expenditure on the New York City Subway rail service was 3656 BTU/passenger mile (2397 kJ/passenger km) in 1995. This compares to 3702 BTU/passenger mile (2427 kJ/passenger km) for automobile travel. [2]
  • According to a February 11, 2006, New York Daily News article, the New York City Subway hit a 50-year record in usage in 2005, with ridership of 1.45 billion. According to the article, "New subway cars and other upgrades have made tube travel more reliable and have helped lure more than 23 million new riders to the rails in 2005 compared with the year before" ("TRACK RECORD: 1.5B RODE SUBWAY" by Pete Donohue).
  • The article also cited the average fare as $1.27 per trip in 2005, which the transit authority claims is lower than the average fare in 1996.
  • The first theft was reported in the subway on October 27, 1904; the first day the subway system opened.
  • Until the replacement of the metal token, a popular scam was to jam the token slot in an entrance gate with paper. A rider would innocently drop a token in, be frustrated when it did not open the gate, and have to spend another token to enter at another gate. The token thief would then race out from hiding, and suck the token from the jammed slot with their mouth. This could be repeated many times so long as no police officers spotted the activity.<ref>"TUNNEL VISION; The Kiss of Desperation: A Disgusting Practice Vanishes With the Token" by Randy Kennedy, The New York Times, April 8, 2003</ref>
  • In the late 1980s or early 1990s, enterprising transit riders discovered that tokens purchased for use in the Connecticut Turnpike toll booths were of the same size and weight as New York City subway tokens. Since they cost less than one third as much, they began showing up in subway collection boxes regularly. Eventually, Connecticut authorities agreed to change the size of their tokens. [citation needed]
  • For the 75th anniversary of the subway in 1979 (also called the Diamond Jubilee), a special token with a small off-center diamond cutout and engraved images of a 1904 subway car and kiosk were issued. Many were purchased for keepsakes and were not used for rides.
  • Train-announcement voices beginning in the late 1990s were recorded by Bloomberg Radio on-air personalities, who volunteered at the request of their employer, future city mayor Michael Bloomberg. Voices include Jessica Gottesman, later of 1010 WINS radio, Charlie Pellett, and Catherine Cowdery. MTA spokesperson Gene Sansone said in 2006 that, "Most of the orders are given by a male voice, while informational messages come from females. Even though this happened by accident, it is a lucky thing because a lot of psychologists agree that people are more receptive to orders from men and information from women".<ref>amNew York (Sept. 25, 2006): "Voices Down Below", by Justin Rocket Silverman</ref>
  • From 1941 to 1976, the transit authority sponsored the "Miss Subways" publicity campaign. It was resurrected in 2004, for one year, as "Ms. Subways". Featuring young models, entertainers and others, the monthly campaign, which included the winners' photos and biographical blurbs on placards in subway cards, numbers actress Mona Freeman, and prominent New York City restaurateur Ellen Goodman (née Ellen Hart).

[edit] Popular culture

The subway is often seen as an integral part of the city and has had a place in popular culture for at least three quarters of a century. Many living in the area through the 1980s remember it for crime and graffiti, but these have since subsided.

[edit] Film

The New York City subway has been featured prominently in many films. One of its first color appearances is in the 1949 musical On The Town, shot on location. One of the characters takes a fancy to "Miss Turnstiles," a "typical rider" whose picture appears in many different poses on advertising placards.

[edit] See also

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New York City Subway (official site)

Shuttles (S) 42nd StreetFranklin AvenueRockaway Park
Unused/defunct 8 9 10 11 12 13 H K P T U X YJFK Express
BMT: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Shuttles: 63rd StreetBowling GreenCulverGrand StreetOther
Under construction Second Avenue Subway7 Subway ExtensionFulton Street Transit Center
Divisions IRTBMTIND (Second System)
Lists Inter-division connectionsInter-division transfersLinesServicesStationsTerminalsYards
Miscellaneous AccessibilityChainingHistoryMetroCardNomenclatureRolling stock
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