New York City Subway

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Entrance to a Subway station
An underground New York City Subway station
A map of the Subway

The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system that is in New York City, United States. It is run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). It is one of the biggest rapid transit systems in the world, with 468 stations.[1] It has 229 miles (or 369 km) of routes on 656 miles (or 1056 km) of track. The New York City Subway almost never closes; the trains run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year.[2] The system has only closed three times.

The first elevated trains started working on October 9, 1863, and the first underground trains started working on October 27, 1904.

History[change | change source]

Alfred Ely Beach built an underground subway tunnel to test in 1869. His Beach Pneumatic Transit only extended 312 feet (95 m) under Broadway in Lower Manhattan. The subway car in the tunnel was pneumatic, or pushed by air. The tunnel was never made longer. It could have gone to Battery Park to the south and the Harlem River to the north.[3]

The first underground subway line opened on October 27, 1904. The oldest elevated train line in the subway system opened in 1885. The oldest right-of-way was a steam railroad called the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Rail Road. That railroad opened in 1863.

By the time the first subway opened, there were two private subway companies. They were the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Corporation (BRT) and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). Most subway lines built after 1913 were built by the New York City government. These tracks were leased to the companies. The first line of the city-owned and city-run Independent Subway System (IND) opened in 1932.[4]

In 1940, the two private systems were bought by the city. Some elevated train lines closed and were destroyed. The New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) was made in 1953 to run subway, bus, and streetcar operations. It was made part of Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968.

Graffiti on the subway in the 1970s.

By the 1970s and 1980s, the New York City Subway was really bad to ride.[5][6] There were very few people riding the subway. There was a lot of graffiti and crime on the subway. This was fixed in the 1990s.[6]

After the September 11 attacks, there were train disruptions on lines running through Lower Manhattan.[7][8] In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded the subway system. It closed many lines for a long time.[9]

Stations[change | change source]

There are subway stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. About 40% of the tracks are above ground and the other 60% are below ground. Every day about 5,076,000 people take rides on the subway.[1] 463 out of the system's 468 stations are always open.

Many stations have "mezzanines". These are the levels of the station where you pay a fare before entering the subway platforms. Everyone must pay a fare to enter the subway system. They are usually between street level and platform level.

Many station entrances and exits have lamp posts. At the top of the lamp posts are colored balls. Green balls usually show the station is open all day. Red balls can show two things. An entrance lamp post with a red ball can show that you can only enter during the daytime. There are also red exit lamp posts, which show that you can only exit the station. Some of the balls do not show the right information about an entrance or exit.[10]

Most subway stations have waiting platforms that are from 480 to 600 feet (150 to 180 m) long. People wait for trains on these platforms.

All new stations have platforms with air conditioning.[11][12]

One station's artwork

Many stations also have artwork on the subway station walls.

Most of the stations wers built before 1990. That is when a new law said that many new buildings, like subway stations, should have elevators and ramps so people with wheelchairs can enter these buildings.[13]

The MTA has run the "Music Under New York" (MUNY) program in the subway since 1987.[14] People must compete in order to be allowed to play music in a station.[15][16] There are now more than 100 musicians and performers in the subway system.

There are only 129 open restrooms in 77 of the system's stations.[17]

Some platforms have newspaper stands as well. They sell many things, including newspapers and food. There are also stores in some stations.[18]

Lines and routes[change | change source]

A digital sign on the side of an R142 subway car on the 4 train
The 125th Street station

In other cities' subway systems, a train "line" is the same as a train "route". In New York City's subway system, however, the "line" is the actual tracks, which a train "route" uses. "Routes", also called "services", have a letter or a number, such as "1" or "A". "Lines" have names, like "Broadway Line".

There are 24 train services. This includes 3 short "shuttle" routes. Each route has a color. R. Raleigh D'Adamo, a lawyer who entered a contest in 1964, planned the colors that are used on subway maps now. Before, subway maps used different colors for every route.[19] People who live in New York City do not call lines and services by color (such as, Blue Line or Green Line). However, tourists often use colors to tell between routes.[20][21]

There are three different types of subway services. "Local" trains make all stops at "local" stations as well as at "express" stations. "Express" trains skip some stations, but stop at "express" stations. There is one "skip-stop" service, the J/Z, where two train routes run on the same line; each route only stops at every other station along the line.

The subway system runs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, but some routes do not run when not many people ride the subway.[22] When a line is closed, the transit authority uses free shuttle buses.[23] The transit authority shows planned service changes on its website,[24] on station walls, inside subway cars,[25] and through its Twitter page.[26]

Trunk lines[change | change source]

Primary Trunk line Color[27][28] Pantone [29] Service bullets
IND Eighth Avenue Line Vivid blue PMS 286 NYCS-bull-trans-A.svg NYCS-bull-trans-C.svg NYCS-bull-trans-E.svg
IND Sixth Avenue Line Bright orange PMS 165 NYCS-bull-trans-B.svg NYCS-bull-trans-D.svg NYCS-bull-trans-F.svg NYCS-bull-trans-M.svg
IND Crosstown Line Lime green PMS 376 NYCS-bull-trans-G.svg
BMT Canarsie Line Light slate gray 50% black NYCS-bull-trans-L.svg
BMT Nassau Street Line Terra cotta brown PMS 154 NYCS-bull-trans-J.svg NYCS-bull-trans-Z.svg
BMT Broadway Line Sunflower yellow PMS 116 NYCS-bull-trans-N.svg NYCS-bull-trans-Q.svg NYCS-bull-trans-R.svg
IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line Tomato red PMS 185 NYCS-bull-trans-1.svg NYCS-bull-trans-2.svg NYCS-bull-trans-3.svg
IRT Lexington Avenue Line Apple green PMS 355 NYCS-bull-trans-4.svg NYCS-bull-trans-5.svg NYCS-bull-trans-6.svg NYCS-bull-trans-6d.svg
IRT Flushing Line Raspberry PMS Purple NYCS-bull-trans-7.svg NYCS-bull-trans-7d.svg
Shuttles Dark slate gray 70% black NYCS-bull-trans-S.svg

Routes[change | change source]

There are many routes on the subway. Many people who have never ridden on the Subway get confused because there are so many routes going to so many different places. The Subway has signs that hang from the stations' ceilings to show the routes and where they go.

Routes on the "A Division", which used to be the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, are:

Route Name
NYCS-bull-trans-1.svg Broadway-Seventh Avenue Local
NYCS-bull-trans-2.svg Broadway-Seventh Avenue Express
NYCS-bull-trans-3.svg Broadway-Seventh Avenue Express
NYCS-bull-trans-4.svg Lexington Avenue Express
NYCS-bull-trans-5.svg Lexington Avenue Express
NYCS-bull-trans-6.svg NYCS-bull-trans-6d.svg Lexington Avenue Local
NYCS-bull-trans-7.svg NYCS-bull-trans-7d.svg Flushing Local/Express
NYCS-bull-trans-S.svg 42nd Street Shuttle

Routes on the "B Division", which used to belong to the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation and Independent Subway System, are:

Route Name Route Name
NYCS-bull-trans-A.svg Eighth Avenue Express NYCS-bull-trans-L.svg Canarsie Local
NYCS-bull-trans-B.svg Sixth Avenue Express NYCS-bull-trans-M.svg Sixth Avenue Local
NYCS-bull-trans-C.svg Eighth Avenue Local NYCS-bull-trans-N.svg Broadway Local
NYCS-bull-trans-D.svg Sixth Avenue Express NYCS-bull-trans-Q.svg Broadway Express
NYCS-bull-trans-E.svg Eighth Avenue Local NYCS-bull-trans-R.svg Broadway Local
NYCS-bull-trans-F.svg Sixth Avenue Local NYCS-bull-trans-S.svg Franklin Avenue Shuttle
NYCS-bull-trans-G.svg Crosstown Local NYCS-bull-trans-S.svg Rockaway Park Shuttle
NYCS-bull-trans-J.svg Nassau Street Local NYCS-bull-trans-Z.svg Nassau Street Express

Fares[change | change source]

From 1904 until 1948, people paid a nickel to go into the subway.[30] On July 1, 1948, the fare was raised to a dime. In July 1953, the fare was raised to 15 cents. The MTA gave out subway tokens, which people used to enter the subway. People stopped using tokens in 2003.[31]

Now riders must pay with MetroCards. The subway started using them in 1994. Riders can buy MetroCards from the station booth or from vending machines that are in the stations. The fare is $2.50 with a MetroCard, $2.75 without.

Rider safety[change | change source]

Small moving platform fills a gap in a curved station

Riders are allowed to take pictures using cameras, but are not allowed to take pictures with cameras that flash or with cameras that are on tripods.

Subway police can search riders to make sure they do not have weapons or other items that could be used to hurt other people.

When riders get hurt, usually it is because they slip when they are getting on or off the train. This is because there is a gap between the train and the platform. In recent times, workers have made the gaps smaller to prevent people from slipping. Often messages are played from loudspeakers that say "Please watch the gap when entering and exiting the train".

Train safety[change | change source]

The MTA makes sure that New York City Subway trains run without accidents. There are railroad switches, railroad signals, and speed limits on the subway.[32] All tracks also have a stopper on the side. If the train passes a red signal, the stopper will stop the train.

A black-and-white striped board hangs above the middle of each platform. The conductor has to point to the board in front of him or her. After the conductor points to the board, the train doors will open.[33]

The subway has had over 56 train accidents since 1918.[34] The Malbone Street Wreck on November 1, 1918 was the most deadly. That crash killed 93 people.[35]

Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, the MTA has been trying to make trains run by themselves. New York City Subway trains normally run with a train conductor and a train engineer. In 2006, the L train was the first route to be run by computers.[36] The 7 train is becoming the second route to be run by a computer.[37] There are computers both on the train and along the side of the tracks. The computer does the engineer's job by driving and stopping the train.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "MTA Subway Fast Facts" Retrieved June 28, 2007.
  2. http://www.mta.info/nyct/maps/subwaymap.pdf
  3. "The Pneumatic Tunnel Under Broadway (1870)". nycsubway.org. Archived from the original on May 5, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080505031528/http://www.nycsubway.org/articles/beach-1870-03-05.html. Retrieved July 7, 2008. (extract from Scientific American March 5, 1870)
  4. Mark S. Feinman. "History of the Independent Subway". nycsubway.org. http://www.nycsubway.org/articles/historyindependentsubway.html. Retrieved July 7, 2008.
  5. nycsubway.org — The New York Transit Authority in the 1970s
  6. 6.0 6.1 nycsubway.org — The New York Transit Authority in the 1980s
  7. Kennedy, Randy. "Tunnel Vision; With Station's Reopening, Even Commuters Smile", The New York Times, September 17, 2002. Accessed October 6, 2007.
  8. Brian Abbott. September 11: Three Years Later. Several maps showing changes in lower Manhattan from July 2001 to September 2002.
  9. "mta.info: Superstorm Sandy Timeline". http://web.mta.info/sandy/timeline.htm.
  10. Kennedy, Randy (August 13, 2002). "Tunnel Vision; The Light at the Top of the Subway Stairs". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980DE2DF113AF930A2575BC0A9649C8B63. Retrieved July 7, 2008.
  11. Roberts, Sam (30 September 2013). "No Heel Hazards (or Gusts) as Subway Expands". New York Times (New York). http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/nyregion/second-ave-subway-line-wont-have-sidewalk-ventilation-grates.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  12. Donohue, Pete (August 4, 2006). "Cooler Subways Coming – Eventually". Daily News (New York). http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/2006/08/04/2006-08-04_cooler_subways_coming_-_even.html. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
  13. "MTA Guide to Accessible Transit". New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. http://web.mta.info/accessibility/index.html. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  14. MTA's Arts for Transit's Music Under New York (MUNY) Section MTA.info website.
  15. Redwine, Tina (May 18, 2011). "MTA Holds Tryouts For Subway Performers". NY1. http://www.ny1.com/content/139318/mta-holds-tryouts-for-subway-performers. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  16. "Performers Audition For Coveted MTA Subway Slots". NY1. May 16, 2012. http://www.ny1.com/content/news_beats/transit/161317/performers-audition-for-coveted-mta-subway-slots. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  17. Haddon, Heather; Klopsis, Nicholas (April 11, 2010). "Flush with filth: Many subway station bathrooms dirty, or locked up". AM New York. http://amny.com/urbanite-1.812039/flush-with-filth-many-subway-station-bathrooms-dirty-or-locked-up-1.1857262. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  18. Trendy Shops in the Subway MTA.info website. Made August 26, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
  19. Polytechnic University Cable 34:2 Winter 2007 p.7
  20. Cox, Bobby. "New York City Subway". Deaf Echo. http://www.deafecho.com/2005/12/new-york-city-subway/. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  21. "Rules of The Subway". Fodors. http://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/rules-of-the-subway-168800-3.cfm. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  22. Subway Service Changes
  23. Finnegan, Jack, Belden Merims and Jennifer Cecil. Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City: Including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Northern New Jersey. First Books Inc., Portland, Oregon. 2007. ISBN 978-0912301723. Page 336.
  24. Subway Service Changes
  25. A Better Way To Know How To Go: Subway Service Information
  26. https://twitter.com/NYCTSubway NYCT Subway Service: Official source for NYC Transit news & planned subway service changes
  27. Official paint names since 1979: Grynbaum, Michael (May 10, 2010). "Take the Tomato 2 Stops to the Sunflower". New York Times, City Room Blog. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/take-the-tomato-to-the-sunflower/. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  28. Official MTA video mentions "lime green" for the Crosstown line. "Subway Colors and Names". MTA Info. July 15, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ83UhBJFP0. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  29. MTA Developer Resources Download, CSV file
  30. Cudahy, Brian (2003). A Century of Subways: Celebrating 100 Years of New York's Underground Railways. Fordham University Press. ISBN 0-8232-2292-6 ., p. 28
  31. New York City Subway Tokens
  32. "NYC Subway Signals". nycsubway.org. http://nycsubway.org/articles/signals.html. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  33. Jane Janeczko (October 30, 2013). "The New York Subway Signs Experiment Makes MTA Conductors Point At Something Else". huffingtonpost.com. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/new-york-subway-drivers-point_n_4178532.html. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  34. "NYC Subway accidents". nycsubway.org. 2009. http://www.nycsubway.org/faq/accidents.html. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  35. "The Mayor to Begin B.R.T Inquiry Today" (PDF). The New York Times (New York, NY): p. 24. November 1, 1918. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9804E5DE1239E13ABC4C53DFB7678383609EDE. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  36. Neuman, William (2007-05-22). "For Less Crowding on L Train, Think 2010, Report Says". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/22/nyregion/22subway.html. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  37. Arden, Patrick; Ventura, Michael P. (04-12). "Ready to roll on Second Ave: MTA's chief engineer dishes the dirt on their new dig". NY Metro: pp. 1/2. http://ny.metro.us/metro/local/article/Ready_to_roll_on_Second_Ave/7934.html