New York City Subway

From Academic Kids

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The New York City Subway is a large rapid transit system in New York City, New York, United States. It is the most extensive public transportation system in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world with between 416 and 475 stations (depending on how connected stations are counted; the MTA uses 468 as the number) and 656 miles (1056 km) of mainline track. When non-revenue trackage in shops and yards is included, the total comes to 842 miles (1355 km). The subway is operated by the New York City Transit Authority, described by its parent Metropolitan Transportation Authority as MTA New York City Transit.

There is pending legislation that would merge the subway operations of MTA New York City Transit with MTA Staten Island Railway to form MTA Subways.[1] (http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/capconstr/about.htm) 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 only connected via the free city-operated Staten Island Ferry.

Though it is known as "the subway", implying underground operations, about forty percent of the system runs on above ground rights-of-way, including steel or (rarely) 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.

Contents

The subway system today

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South Ferry station
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125th Street station

The New York City Subway is designed for carrying large numbers of people during working days. In 2002 an average of 4.5 million passengers used the subways every weekday.

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 at a turnstile, customers walk down to the waiting platforms below. Some subway lines in the outer boroughs have elevated tracks with stations that passengers climb up to. With some exceptions, subway tunnels between stations are rectangular in shape.

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.

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A map of the current system
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A simplified map, color-coded by services and only showing major stations

A typical subway train has from 8 to 11 cars (shuttles as short as 2); when put together 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 Template:IRT are shorter and narrower than the trains that operate on the other (Template:IND (NYCS)/Template:BMT) lines, the result being two different divisions which cannot share trains.

Subway stations are located throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. All services pass through Manhattan, except for the Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown Local (Template:NYCS Crosstown), which directly connects Brooklyn and Queens without entering Manhattan, the Template:NYCS service nb, and the Template:NYCS service nb.

In 1994 the subway system introduced a special fare-paying system called the MetroCard, which allows riders to use cards that store money paid to a token booth clerk or to a vending machine. The MetroCard was further 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 world-famous token was phased out in 2003, the same year the MTA raised the basic fare to $2, amid angry 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.

The one major expansion that is being planned is the Second Avenue Line. This line has been planned since the early days of the system, and construction was started in the 1970s, but as yet no usable sections exist.

Being a rather old system, 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.

The MTA has recently begun a 20-year process of automating their subways. Beginning with the BMT Canarsie Line (Template:NYCS L), 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). The benefits of automated subways include cost, safety, and reliability. Automated systems can be safer because all the the trains are in radio communication with each other, and their speed and position are carefully controlled. This will also lead to less delays, and better service. The new system will replace decade-old electronics that frequently fail due to flooding. Automated trains are not entirely new; they already exist in Los Angeles and Paris. (An experiment in automating the 42nd Street Shuttle in New York City, which began in 1959, ended with a fire at Grand Central-42nd Street on April 24, 1964.) The New York system is significant because it will be replacing an extremely large subway that is already in place.

Lines and routes

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42nd Street-Times Square station entrance
Main articles: New York City Subway nomenclature, List of New York City Subway lines, List of New York City Subway services (including a detailed table)
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Entrance to Broad Street station

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 colloquially called the D Line, runs over the following lines on its journey:

There are 27 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 Template:NYCS service nb 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 are equipped with digital signs on the front and sides plus a new sign on the interior displays the service, destination, current and next stations and the time. This is accompanied by recordings announcing the stations.

Division A (Template:IRT) consists of the Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, and Template:NYCS service nb.

Division B (Template:BMT/Template:IND (NYCS)) consists of the Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb, Template:NYCS service nb and Template:NYCS service nb.

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

History

Main article: New York City Subway history
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An entrance to the elevated IRT Flushing Line in Jackson Heights, Queens.

While the first underground line of the subway opened in 1904, the first elevated line (the IRT Ninth Avenue Line) opened almost 35 years earlier. The oldest structure that is still in use (albeit reinforced) 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) operate on the Staten Island Railway, opened in 1860, but that is not usually considered part of the Subway.

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; every line 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 (via the original Contracts 1 and 2 for the IRT subway, and the Dual Contracts for later extensions and widenings). 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 were immediately closed, and others closed soon after. Integration was slow, but several connections were built between the Template:IND (NYCS) and Template:BMT, and they now operate as one division, Division B. Due to the Template:IRT being narrower, it has remained its own division, Division A.

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

Rolling stock

Main article: New York City Subway 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 Template:IND (NYCS) 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. Car models were known as "R-types" to distinguish them from models built for the private operators.

The system maintains two separate fleets of cars, one for the Template:IRT lines, another for the Template:BMT/Template:IND (NYCS) 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' (~3.0m) wide and either 60'6" (18.4404m) or 75' (~22.86m) 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.

In popular culture

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Christmas Eve on Sesame Street scene with Oscar (in garbage can) and Big Bird (behind column) at the 86th Street station

The Subway is often seen as an integral part of the city. Many living in the area through the 1980s remember it for crime and graffiti, but this has subsided since then.

The New York City Subway has been featured prominently in many films. Probably the most notable instance is from the 1971 film The French Connection. The subway/car chase on and underneath the elevated BMT West End Line is often considered the greatest chase scene in film history [2] (http://ask.yahoo.com/ask/20050316.html). Later, the 1974 movie The Taking of Pelham One Two Three focuses on the hijacking of a 6 train in Manhattan. The 1979 cult film The Warriors based their plot around a street gang taking the subway from upper Bronx to Coney Island. The heavily graffitied cars and stations featured are in stark contrast to today's relatively clean subway system. In 2004, Spider-man 2 featured a fight and crash scene on an out-of-control elevated R train in Manhattan, although the tracks did not exist; it was filmed on the Chicago 'L'. In music, the Duke Ellington Band performed "Take the A Train", inspired by the A train to Harlem.

See also

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External links

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