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The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New Yorkmarker and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and also known as MTA New York City Transit. It is one of the oldest and most extensive public transportation systems in the world, with 468 stations in operation (421 if stations connected by transfers are counted as a single station); of routes, translating into of revenue track; and a total of including non-revenue trackage. In 2008, the subway delivered over 1.623 billion rides, averaging over five million on weekdays, 2.9 million on Saturdays, and 2.3 million on Sundays.

The New York City Subway trails only the metro systems of Tokyo, Moscow and Seoul in annual ridership and carries more passengers than all other rail mass transit systems in the United States combined. Among the world's busiest metro systems it is the only one to run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Subway stations are located throughout the New York City boroughs of Manhattanmarker, Brooklynmarker, Queensmarker, and the Bronxmarker. All services pass through Manhattan, except for the Franklin Avenue Shuttle in Brooklyn, the Rockaway Park Shuttle in Queens, and the Brooklyn–Queens Crosstown Local ( ) connecting Brooklyn and Queens only. All but two of the 468 stations of the subway are served 24 hours a day. This is very rare globally; the only other United States rapid transit systems that share this distinction are the PATHmarker (connecting northern New Jerseymarker with Manhattan), the PATCO Speedline (linking Philadelphiamarker with southern New Jersey), and two lines of the Chicago 'L'.

In 2005, the New York City Subway hit a 50-year record in usage, with ridership of 1.45 billion. The trend toward higher ridership has continued into 2008; MTA has released figures that subway use was up 6.8 percent for January and February as higher gasoline prices encouraged riders to use mass transit over automobiles.

According to the United States Department of Energy, energy expenditure on the New York City Subway rail service was 3492 BTU/passenger mile (2289 kJ/passenger km) in 1995. This compares to 3702 BTU/passenger mile (2427 kJ/passenger km) for automobile travel. One should note as well that the figure for automobiles is averaged over the entire United States. Driving a car in New York City is significantly less efficient due to the higly urbanized environment.

Many lines and stations have both express and local service. These lines have three or four tracks: normally, the outer two are used for local trains, and the inner one or two are used 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, whereby two services operate over the line during rush hours and certain stations are only served by one of the two.


Political cartoon critical of the service of the IRT in 1905.
The IRT is labeled as the "Interborough Rattled Transit".
An underground transit system in New York City was first built by Alfred Ely Beach in 1869. His Beach Pneumatic Transit only extended under Broadwaymarker and exhibited his idea for a subway. The tunnel was never extended, although extensions had been planned to take the tunnel southward to The Batterymarker and northwards towards the Harlem Rivermarker. It was demolished when the BMT Broadway Line was built in the 1910s.

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 Linemarker. The heavy 1888 snowstorm helped illustrate the benefits of an underground transportation system. 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 Brooklynmarker. 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. The Staten Island Railway, which opened in 1860, currently utilizes R44 subway cars, but it has no links to the rest of the system and is not usually considered part of the subway proper.

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, but was kept within the core of the City due to the low amount of startup capital provided to the municipal Board Of Transportation, the later MTA, by the state. This required it to be run 'at cost', necessitating fares up to double the five cent fare popular at the time.

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 the B Division. Since the IRT tunnel segments are too small and stations are too narrow to accommodate B Division cars, and contain curves too sharp for B Division cars, the IRT remains its own division, A Division.

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. 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.

Construction methods

When the IRT subway debuted in 1904, typical tunnel construction was the cut-and cover method. The street was torn up to dig the tunnel below, then the street was rebuilt above. This method worked well for digging soft dirt and gravel near the street surface. However, tunnel boring machines were required for thicker sections made of bedrock, such as the Harlemmarker and East Rivermarker tunnels, which used cast-iron tube, and the segments between 33rd and 42nd streets under Park Avenue, between 116th Street and 120th Street under Broadway, and between 157th Street and Fort George under Broadway and Eleventh Avenue, all of which used either rock or concrete-lined tunnels.

About 40% of the "subway" actually runs on surface or elevated tracks including steel or cast iron elevated structures, concrete viaducts, embankments, open cuts and surface routes. All of these construction methods are completely grade-separated from road and pedestrian crossings, and most crossings of two subway tracks are grade-separated with flying junctions.

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 track or series of tracks that a train "route" uses on its way from one terminal to another.

The 1 Train Subway going both uptown and downtown through Harlem.
"Routes" (also called "services") are distinguished by a letter or a number. "Lines" have names. (Notwithstanding the subtleties, in popular usage, lettered or numbered services are often referred to as "lines". They are also designations for trains, as exemplified in the Billy Strayhorn song Take the "A" Train.) This terminology is also used to a loose extent in the Taipei Rapid Transit System.

There are 26 train services in the subway system, including three short shuttles. Each route has its own color designation, representing the Manhattan trunk line of the particular service, and is labeled as local or express. A separate color is exclusively assigned to the Crosstown Line ( ) route, since it operates entirely outside Manhattan; the shuttles are all assigned dark gray. Each service is also named after its Manhattan (or crosstown) trunk line.

Though all but two subway stations are served on a 24-hour basis, some of the designated routes do not run during the late night hours or use a different routing during those hours. In addition to these regularly scheduled changes, because there is no nightly system shutdown for maintenance, tracks and stations must be maintained while the system is operating. In order to accommodate such work, services are sometimes re-routed during the overnight hours or on weekends.

The current color system depicted on official subway maps was proposed by R. Raleigh D'Adamo, a lawyer who entered a contest sponsored by the Transit Authority in 1964. D'Adamo proposed replacing a map that used only three colors (representing the three operating entities of the subway network) with a map that used a different color for each line. D'Adamo's contest entry shared first place with two others and led the Transit Authority to adopt a multi-colored scheme. (D'Adamo subsequently earned a master's degree in transportation planning and engineering from Polytechnic Universitymarker and worked for transit authorities, including a stint at the MTA, and was responsible for organizing and building what today is the Westchester County Bee-Line bus system.) However, the lines are not referred to by color (e.g., Blue line or Green line), although the colors are often assigned through their groups ( , , and are blue whereas the , , and are green).

A Division (IRT) consists of:>
Route Line
42nd Street Shuttle
B Division (BMT/IND) consists of:>
Route Line Route Line
Franklin Avenue Shuttle
Rockaway Park Shuttle

Projected B Division service:
Route Line
Second Avenue Subway (under construction as of 2008; will not be used until the line opens south of 72nd Street)

Stations facilities and amenities

Station and concourse

A typical subway station has waiting platforms ranging from long to accommodate large numbers of people. Passengers enter a subway station through stairs towards station booths and vending machines to buy their fare, which is currently stored in a MetroCard. After swiping the card at a turnstile, customers continue to the platforms. Some subway lines in the outer boroughs and northern Manhattanmarker have elevated tracks with stations to which passengers climb up via stairs, escalator, or elevator.

Globe lamps

At the top of most of the system's subway stations sits a lamppost or two bearing a colored spherical lamp. Before the introduction of the MetroCard in 1994, these lights indicated the station's availability. A green lamp meant that the station was open and running 24 hours a day, a yellow lamp meant that it was open only during the day, while a red lamp meant that it was an exit only. The yellow lamp was eventually phased out, being replaced by red lamps. Today, this color system uses green lamps to indicate 24 hour entrances and red lamps to indicate non 24-hour entrances.


Due to the large number of transit lines, one platform or set of platforms often serves more than one service (unlike other rapid transit systems, including the Paris Metro but like some lines on the London Underground). A passenger needs to look at the signs hung at the platform entrance steps and over each track to see which trains stop there and when, and at the arriving train to see which train it is.

There are a number of platform configurations possible. On a 2-track line, a station may have one center platform used for trains in both directions, or 2 side platforms, one for a train in each direction. For a 3-track or 4-track line, local stops will have side platforms and the middle one or two tracks will not stop at the station.
For most 3- or 4-track express stops, there will be two island platforms, one for the local and express in one direction, and another for the local and express in the other direction. In a 3-track configuration, the center track can be used toward the center of the city in the morning and away from the center in the evening, though not every 3-track line has that express service.

In a few cases, a 4-track station has an island platform for the center express tracks and two side platforms for the outside local tracks. This occurs only at three stations near major railway stations where the next station along the line is also an express station with the more common platform configuration. The purpose of splitting the platforms is to prevent through riders from adding to the station's crowding by transferring from local to express or from express to local. This occurs at Atlantic Avenuemarker on the 2/3/4/5 Lines with adjacent express station Nevins Streetmarker, and 34th St.-Penn Station on both the 1/2/3marker Lines and A/C/Emarker Lines, with adjacent express stations at 42nd Street. This does not occur at Grand Central on the 4/5/6 Lines, which has no adjacent express station. Almost everywhere expresses run, they run on the inner one (of 3) or two (of 4) tracks, and locals run on the outer two tracks. There is one notable 6-track station, DeKalb Avenuemarker, where trains to or from the Manhattan Bridgemarker either stop at the outer tracks of one of the island platforms ("local tracks"), or pass through the station on the middle tracks ("super express tracks"). Trains to or from the Montague Street Tunnel stop across the platform from the respective outer track ("express tracks").


Many stations are decorated with intricate ceramic tile work, some of it dating back to 1904 when the subway first opened for business. The subway tile artwork tradition continues today. The "Arts for Transit" program oversees art in the subway system. Permanent installations, such as sculpture, mosaics, and murals; photographs displayed in lightboxes, and musicians performing in stations encourage people to use mass transit. In addition, commissioned art displayed in stations and "art cards", some displaying poetry, are in many of the trains themselves in unused advertisement fixture slots. Some of the art is by internationally-known artists such as Elizabeth Murray's Blooming, displayed at Lexington Avenue/59th Street stationmarker.


Most stations are not handicapped accessible. The exceptions are newly constructed or extensively renovated stations called "key stations", as required by the ADA.


Since 1987, MTA has sponsored the Music Under New York program in which street musicians enter a competitive contest to be assigned the preferred high traffic locations, example - 42nd Street station. Each year applications are reviewed and approximately 70 eligible performers are selected and contacted to participate in live auditions, held for one day.

At present, more than 100 soloists and groups participate in MUNY providing over 150 weekly performances at 25 locations throughout the transit system.

In addition, any musician/entertainer may perform in subway mezzanines and platforms. On platforms there can be no amplification. This is a First Amendment right, and is part of the MTA policies: The New York City Transit (NYCT) is a subdivision of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that operates the city's subways and buses. The NYCT authorizes these types of free expression in subway stations: "Public speaking; distribution of written materials; solicitation for charitable, religious or political causes; and artist performances, including the acceptance of donations."

Performers must not be within 25' of a token booth, 50' from a MTA office/tower, not blocking access to an escalator, stairwell, elevator, not interfere with transit services or passenger movement, and not in an area where construction is occurring. Also, not during a public service announcement, or louder than 85 dBA at 5 feet away or 70 dBa at 2 feet from a token booth. Also not perform in subway cars.


Restrooms are rare in the subway system. Most establishments built in the past have since been closed to the public and have been converted to storage spaces or for employee use only. However, there are a few major stations that have operating restrooms, including on the concourse of the 42nd Street–Port Authority Bus Terminalmarker station, Chambers Streetmarker, 57th Street 7th Avenuemarker, Lexington Avenue/59th Streetmarker and 125th Streetmarker in Manhattan. Restrooms also exist in Brooklyn at 36th Streetmarker, Atlantic Avenue–Pacific Streetmarker, Church Avenuemarker, DeKalb Avenuemarker, Kings Highwaymarker, Sheepshead Baymarker, and Coney Island–Stillwell Avenuemarker. In Queens, they can be found at Jamaica–179th Streetmarker, Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archermarker, Roosevelt Avenue/74th Streetmarker, Astoria–Ditmars Boulevardmarker and Flushing–Main Streetmarker. The East 180th Streetmarker station in The Bronxmarker also has public restrooms available, as does the 161st Street–Yankee Stadiummarker stop on the D and 4 lines.


Newspaper stands are occasionally found on some platforms, selling all manner of items including newspapers and food. The MTA has also been installing retail spaces within paid areas in selected stations, including Times Square and at 42nd St.-Bryant Parkmarker, on the concourse of the B, D, F, and V lines.


Connections are available at designated stations to Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, AirTrain JFK, Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit and PATHmarker.

Car types and details

A Vaktrak track vacuuming train

The NYC subway uses two sizes of cars - the A division, listed above, uses narrower cars that have three sets of doors on each side, used in consists of up to 11; the B division, listed above, uses wider cars that have four sets of doors on each side, in consists of up to 10.

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 and digital side signs also typically include the service names and terminals.

Newer cars starting with the R142 feature recorded announcements for station information, closing doors, and other general messages in lieu of conductor announcements, although live conductor announcements can still be made. The recordings began in the late 1990s and featured Bloomberg Radiomarker on-air speakers, who volunteered at the request of their employer and future city mayor Michael Bloomberg. Voices include Jessica Gottesman (now at 1010 WINSmarker radio), Charlie Pellett, and Catherine Cowdery. With regards to why certain messages are voiced by males and others by females, 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". For example, a 4 Bronx-bound train at a station would broadcast, "This is a Bronx-bound 4 express train. The next stop is 125 Street," with a female voice. Before the doors close, a male recording would then announce, "Stand clear of the closing doors please!" General messages played include safety messages (e.g.: Reporting suspicious activity), train status announcements (Train delay), and courtesy messages (Disposing of litter in trash receptacles).

Rolling stock

As of November 2009, the New York City subway has over 6,332 cars on the roster. A typical New York City Subway train consists of 8 to 11 cars, although shuttles can have as few as two, and the train can range from long.

The system maintains two separate fleets of cars, one for the IRT lines, another for the BMT/IND lines. All BMT/IND equipment is about wide and either or long whereas IRT equipment is approximately wide and long. There is also a special fleet of BMT/IND cars that is used for operation in the BMT Eastern Division, consisting of R42 married pairs, R143 4-car sets and R160A 4-car sets. long cars, like the R44, R46, R68 and R68A are not permitted on BMT Eastern Division trackage.

Cars purchased by the City of New Yorkmarker 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, or R21 through R36 WF, or R143 through R160B) may be virtually identical, simply being purchased under different contracts.

The MTA has been incorporating newer subway cars into its stock in the past decade. Since 1999, the R142, R142A, R143, R160A, and R160B have been added into service.


An NYCTA token from the mid-20th century
The current Metrocard design

Token and change

From the inauguration of IRT subway services in 1904 until the unified system of 1948 (including predecessor BMT and IND subway services), the fare for a ride on the subway of any length was 5 cents. On July 1, 1948, the fare was increased to 10 cents, and since then has steadily risen. When the New York City Transit Authority was created in July 1953, the fare was raised to 15 cents and a token issued. Until April 13, 2003, riders paid the fare with tokens purchased from a station attendant. The tokens were changed periodically as prices changed. 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. The last iteration of tokens featured a hole in the middle, and after they were phased out, many became featured in home made jewelry. Old tokens may be redeemed for a refund by sending them to the MTA's Treasury Business Office or in person.

Token sucking

Of course, many sought to circumvent the tokens to ride for free. A popular scam was to jam the token slot in an entrance gate with paper. An innocent passenger would insert a token into the turnstile, 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 as long as no police officers spotted the activity. Often token booth attendants would coat the token slots with soap to discourage "token sucking".

There was some controversy in the early 1980s when 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. Connecticut authorities initially agreed to change the size of their tokens, but later reneged, and the problem went unsolved until 1985, when Connecticut discontinued the tolls on its turnpike. At that time, the MTA was paid 17.5 cents for each of more than two million tokens that had been collected during the three year "token war."


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. On May 4 of the same year, the MTA raised the basic fare to $2 amid protests from passenger and advocacy groups such as the Straphangers Campaign. On June 28, 2009, the fare was raised to $2.25, as part of a two-tiered fare hike.

Future plans

The subway is currently undergoing renovation and expansion. Current expansion projects include the Second Avenue Subway on the Upper East Side of Manhattanmarker, the 7 Subway Extension to the west side of Manhattan and the Fulton Street Transit Centermarker. Construction of the South Ferry Terminalmarker was completed in May 2009.


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. 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.

In the early 21st century, plans resurfaced for a major expansion, the Second Avenue Subway. 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 Chinatownmarker, the East Villagemarker, and the Upper East Sidemarker, but they are each quite short and thus remain unused.


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.


Train arrival times
In 2003, the MTA signed a $160 million contract with Siemens Transportation Systems to install digital next-train arrival message boards, called Public Address/Customer Information Screens (PA/CIS) at 158 of its IRT (numbered line) stations. These signs were to be different from the current LED signs that display the current date and time. However, many problems arose with the software used in Siemens programming, and the MTA stopped payment to the company in May 2006. The MTA threatened to drop Siemens, but about a month later Siemens announced they had fixed the problem. The signs were scheduled to begin operation in late 2007.

A different system was eventually developed, tested, and installed successfully on the L line. Installation on other lines, however, has been pushed back until to 2011.

Paypass trial
The MTA also signed a deal with Mastercard in the first few months of 2006 to test out a new RFID card payment scheme. Customers had to sign up at a special Mastercard website and had to use a Mastercard PayPass credit or debit card/tag to participate. Participating stations included: Originally scheduled to end in December 2006, the MTA extended the trial due to "overwhelming positive response".

In the mid-2000s, the MTA began a 20-year process of automating the subway. Beginning with the BMT Canarsie Line ( ) and the IRT Flushing Line ( ), the MTA has plans to eventually automate a much larger portion, using One Person Train Operation (OPTO) in conjunction with Communication-Based Train Control . Siemens Transportation Systems is building the CBTC system. (A 1959 experiment in automating the 42nd Street Shuttle in New York City ended with a fire at 42nd Street–Grand Central on April 24, 1964.) In late Winter of 2008, the MTA embarked on a 5 week renovation and upgrade project on the line between Flushing–Main Streetmarker and Woodside–61st Streetmarker to upgrade signaling and tracks for CBTC. On February 27, 2008, the MTA issued an Accelerated Capital Program to continue funding the completion of CBTC for the 7 line and continue onto the Queens Boulevard Line. The proposed plan is estimated to cost US $1.4 million.(p. 15-16)

Safety and security


After the September 11th attacks in New York, the MTA was extremely wary of anyone taking photographs or recording video inside the system. The MTA proposed banning all photography and recording in a meeting around June 2004. However, due to strong response from both the public and from civil rights groups, the rule of conduct was dropped. In November 2004, the MTA again put this rule up for approval, but was again denied. However, some police officers and transit workers still confronted people who were not authorized personnel.

On April 3, 2009, the NYPD issued a directive to officers stating that it is legal to take pictures within the subway system so long as it is not accompanied with suspicious activity.

Currently, the MTA Rules of Conduct, Restricted Areas and Activities section states that anyone may take pictures or record video, provided that they do not violate MTA regulations:
Section 1050.9 Restricted areas and activities.
Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted except that ancillary equipment such as lights, reflectors or tripods may not be used. Members of the press holding valid identification issued by the New York City Police Department are hereby authorized to use necessary ancillary equipment. All photographic activity must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Part. Full section


On July 22, 2005, in response to bombings in Londonmarker, the New York City Transit Police 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. The NYPD has come under fire from some groups that claim purely random searches without any form of threat assessment would be ineffectual. "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." The searches were upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in MacWade v. Kelly.

On April 11, 2008, MTA received a Ferrara Fire Apparatus Hazardous Materials Response Truck, which went into service on April 14. It will be used in the case of a chemical or bioterrorist attack.

Passenger safety


In a public transportation system carrying close to 1.5 billion passengers a year, crimes are bound to occur. Rates have shown variations over time, with a drop starting in the 90's, continuing till today.

In order to fight crime, various approaches have been used. In the 60's, for example, Mayor Wagner ordered an increase in the Transit Policeforce from 1,219 to 3,100 officers. During the hours at which crimes most frequently occurred (between 8:00pm and 4:00 am), the men went on patrol in all stations and trains. In response, crime rates decreased, as was extensively reported by the press.

In July 1985 however, the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City published a study showing riders abandoned the subway in droves, fearing the frequent robberies and generally bad circumstances.

To counter these developments, policy that was rooted in the late 1980s and early 1990s was implemented.In line with this Fixing Broken Windows philosophy, the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) began a five-year program to eradicate graffiti from subway trains in 1984.

In 1989 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, asked the transit police (then located within the NYCTA) to focus on minor offenses such as fare evasion. In the early nineties, the NYCTA adopted similar policing methods for Penn Station and Grand Central Terminalmarker.

In 1993, Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani took office and with Howard Safir police commissioner the strategy was more widely deployed in New York, under the rubrics of "zero tolerance" and "quality of life". Crime rates in the subway and city dropped, prompting New York Magazine to declare "The End of Crime as We Know It" on the cover of its August 14, 1995 edition.

Giuliani's campaign credited the succes to the zero tolerance policy. The extent to which his policies deserve the credit is disputed.

New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton and author of Fixing Broken Windows George L. Kelling however, stated the police played an 'important, even central, role' in the declining crime rates.The trend continued and Giuliani's successor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, stated in a November 2004 press release that "Today, the subway system is safer than it has been at any time since we started tabulating subway crime statistics nearly 40 years ago."


A portion of subway-related deaths in New York consists of suicides committed by jumping in front of an oncoming train. Exact numbers are not always available, as the cause of death is listed as "unknown" in cases where no witness was present and no suicide note found.

In the period between 1990 and 2003 343 subway-related deaths have been registered on a citywide total of 7.394 (4.6%). Over the 13-year period, subway-related suicides have increased by 30%, despite a decline in overall suicide numbers.

Several planned stations in the New York Subway may possibly feature platform screen doors. This includes the 7 line extension, and the Second Avenue Subway. Although these doors are designed to improve airflow in stations, the also prevent people from falling or jumping onto the tracks.


2009 budget cuts

The MTA faced a budget deficit in 2009, a projected US$1.2 billion shortfall. The proposed new fare and service reductions were going to balance the budget deficit if the city until May 2009 when the MTA reached a bailout plan from Albany eliminating service cuts, but the fares have still risen to $2.25 for a one way trip and some tollbooth positions will still be cut.

Proposed reduced staff and service cuts

The MTA listed the following proposed budgetary/service cuts in late 2008:

  • Increase weekend headways from eight to ten minutes on the A, D, E, F, G, J, M, N, Q, and R lines.
  • Increase headways from 20 to 30 minutes on all trains from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Truncate G crosstown service so it terminates at Long Island City, Queens - Court Square, at all times - through service is currently provided to Forest Hills, Queens - 71st Avenue on evenings, nights and weekends only.
  • Shorten M rush-hour service to Lower Manhattan, Broad Street - although it currently runs from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn - Bay Parkway station during rush hours only.
  • Late night N train service operates a shorter route over the Manhattan Bridge, instead of via Lower Manhattan and the Montague Street tunnel. This proposed service change would close 3 stations (City Hall, Rector Street, and Lawrence Street), while other transfer options would be available at the three remaining stations to be closed (Canal Street, Whitehall Street and Court Street-Borough Hall), all between midnight and 5 a.m., daily.
  • Eliminate the W train. The Q would thus be extended from its current terminus at Midtown, Manhattan - 57th Street and 7th Avenue, to Astoria, Queens - Ditmars Boulevard on weekdays when the W currently operates.
  • Eliminate the Z train, and restoring the former J train service to all stops between Myrtle Ave-Broadway in Brooklyn and Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer in Queens.
  • Eliminate weekend C and 5 train service.
  • Eliminate all station customer assistance, where provided in addition to the regular booth attendants. This would cut 596 positions.
  • Close 29 staffed booths in stations that currently offer more than one full-time (i.e., 24-hour) booth.
  • Reduce staffing to part-time in 13 additional booths throughout the system.

Capacity constraints

The interior of an train during morning rush hour
Several subway lines have reached their operational limits in terms of train frequency and passengers, according to data released by the Transit Authority. All but one of the "A" Division Lines, and the E and L lines are at capacity; crowding on the Lexington Avenue trains exceeds design limits. Crowding on subway lines results in delays and if congestion-based pricing for automobile travel to Manhattan is implemented, subway crowding is predicted to worsen. The Second Avenue Subway will begin to relieve pressure on the Lexington Avenue line when its first segment begins operating in 2015, but no such relief is planned for other crowded lines. However, the Long Island Railroad East Side Access project is expected to bring many many more commuters to the Lexington Avenue Line at about the same time, further overwhelming its capacity. Because new subway construction can require years to plan and complete, the Transit Authority can only turn to increased bus service to manage demand in the short run, until automation of the subways using CBCT allows trains to run with less headway.

Subway flooding

Service on the subway system is occasionally disrupted by flooding from both major and minor rainstorms. Rainwater can disrupt signals underground and can require the electrified third rail to be shut off. Since 1992, $357 million has been used to improve 269 pump rooms. As of August 2007, $115 million has been earmarked to upgrade the remaining 18 pump rooms. The project is expected to be completed in 2010. Despite these improvements, the transit system continues to experience flooding problems.

On August 8, 2007, after slightly more than of rain fell within an hour, the subway system flooded, causing every line to either be disabled or seriously disrupted and effectively halting the morning rush. (An incident of similar magnitude occurred in September 2004.) This was the third incident in 2007 in which rain disrupted service. The system was disrupted on this occasion because the pumps and drainage system can handle only a rainfall rate of per hour; the incident's severity was aggravated by the scant warning as to the severity of the storm. (p. 10) In late August 2007, MTA Engineer Phil Kollin announced new plans to create a system that would pump water away from the third rail. This new pumping system is scheduled to be in place by 2009.

In addition, as part of a $130 million and an estimated 18 month project, the MTA began installing new subway grates in September 2008 in an attempt to prevent rain from overflowing into the subway system. The metallic structures, designed with the help of architectural firms and meant as a piece of public art, are placed atop existing grates but with a sleeve to prevent debris and rain from flooding the subway. The racks will at first be installed in the three most flood-prone areas as determined by hydrologists and include Jamaicamarker, TriBeCamarker and the Upper West Sidemarker. Each neighborhood is scheduled to have its own distinct design, some featuring a wave-like deck which increases in height and features seating (Jamaica), others with a flatter deck that includes seating and a bike rack.

Subway map

The official transit maps of the New York City Subway are based on a 1979 design by Michael Hertz Associates. The maps are relatively (though not entirely) geographically accurate, with the major exception of Staten Island, the size of which has been greatly reduced. This causes them to appear, in the eyes of some observers, as unnecessarily cluttered and unwieldy compared to the more traditional type of plan used for most urban rail and metro maps; a schematic, or diagram. The map is recognized, however, with helping tourists navigate the city, as major city streets are shown alongside the subway stations serving them.

Part of the reason for the current incarnation is that earlier diagrams of NYC Subway (the first being produced in 1958), while perhaps being more aesthetically pleasing, had the public perception of being inaccurate. The most iconic design of New York Subway map by Massimo Vignelli which was published by the MTA between 1974–1979 and has since become recognized in design circles as a modern classic; however, the MTA deemed the map was too difficult to use due to its abstraction of geographical elements, hence the current version.

There are several privately produced schematics which are available online or in published form, such as those by Hagstrom Map.


The New York City Subway system is infamously infested with rats. They are commonly seen from the platform out in the open, foraging through garbage thrown onto the tracks. At many stations, the rats will roam the platforms themselves during low-traffic hours and, though never confirmed, some have claimed to see them actually board cars late at night.

Decades of efforts to eradicate or simply thin the rat population in the system have been unsuccessful. In March 2009, the Transit Authority announced a series of changes to its vermin control strategy, including new poison formulas and experimental trap designs.

Public relations

The Board of Transportation and then New York City Transit Authority (MTA New York City Transit) has had numerous events that promote increased ridership of their transit system.
Miss Subways
From 1941 to 1976, the Board of Transportation/New York City Transit Authority sponsored the brainchild of advertising firm J.marker Walter Thompson Companymarker, the "Miss Subways" publicity campaign. In the musical 'On the Town', character Miss Turnstiles (played by Sono Osato) is based on the Miss Subways campaign. In one scene, the musical shows three sailors taking an uptown train at Times Squaremarker.

The campaign 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 (born Ellen Hart).

Subway Series
Subway Series was a term attributed to any World Series contest between New York City teams, called thus as opposing teams can travel to compete merely by using the subway system along with the fact that subways are adjacent and visible to their respective stadiums. Subway Series is a term long used in New York, going back to series between the Brooklyn Dodgers or New York Giants and the New York Yankees in the 1940s and '50s. Today, the term is used to describe the rivalry between the Yankees and the New York Mets. During the 2000 World Series, cars on the 4 train (which stopped at Yankee Stadiummarker) were colored white with blue pinstripes, while cars on the 7 train (which stopped at Shea Stadiummarker) were colored orange and blue, the Mets' team colors.

2012 Olympics bid
In cooperation with the City of New York, the MTA posted the NYC2012 logo on train cars in 2005 to attract support for the unsuccessful 2012 Olympics bid.

As an Olympic city, New York offered the advantage of having all venues near to an existing subway stop and events have been scheduled to avoid rush hours, with subway lines operating heightened services.
The Westside football stadium that planned to support the city's Olympics bid, was set up as the centerpiece of a huge commercial including a subway-line extension, but was cancelled eventually.
Other plans in case of selection, would have been major construction in West Midtown. Nolarge Olympic facilities were planned for the area along the Second Avenue Subway corridor.

See also


External links

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