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Subway FAQ

From nycsubway.org

A Brief Overview

The names IRT, BMT, and IND were the names of the three competing transit agencies prior to city takeover in the 40s. The following is a rough guide.

The Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) subway opened in 1904. The city contracted construction of the line to the IRT Company, ownership was always held by the city. The IRT built, equipped, and operated the line under a lease from the city. Its route followed today's 4-5-6 line from City Hall to Grand Central, then turned west and followed today's shuttle line, and then north at Times (Longacre) Square following the 1-2-3 lines to 145 Street and Broadway. Service to the Bronx was established in 1905 (actually the Bronx portion opened in 1904 from 149 St 3rd Avenue to Bronx Pk as a branch of the 3rd Avenue El, while the Harlem River Tunnel was being completed). The line was quickly extended to Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, in 1908. The IRT also leased the Manhattan Railway elevated lines - the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 9th Avenue Elevated lines in Manhattan and the Bronx for 999 years!

The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT, formerly the Brooklyn Rapid Transit, BRT) was the rapid transit company which built, bought, or assumed control of the Brooklyn elevated lines (the Culver, West End, Lexington, Myrtle, Broadway, Fulton St and Fifth Ave Els, of which the Culver, West End, Broadway and part of the Myrtle still exist, and the ground-level extensions to southern Brooklyn, of which the Sea Beach and Brighton Beach were rebuilt for subway service. A portion of the Fulton Street El also remains as it was rebuilt as an extension of IND A train service to the Rockaways in the 1950s.

Beginning in 1913, the city embarked on a project called the Dual Contracts, under which the city built additional lines that were operated as part of the IRT and BMT systems. Finished mostly by 1920, some of the new lines (the Flushing and the Astoria lines in Queens) had trains operated by both companies. The Dual Contracts IRT lines were the Seventh Ave (south from Times Square) and Lexington Ave (north from Grand Central) lines, the Jerome, White Plains Road and Pelham Bay Park branches in the Bronx, and the Brooklyn lines beyond Atlantic Ave. The BMT lines were the Broadway Subway and Nassau Street Subway in Manhattan, the 14th St-Eastern District line from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and Fourth Ave, West End, and Culver lines in Brooklyn. Connections were also made to the company's Sea Beach and Brighton Beach lines.

The Independent Subway (IND) was formed by the City in the 1920s as an "independent" system that was not connected to the IRT or BMT lines. When no private operator could be found, the City's Board of Transportation began operation itself. This system consisted of entirely subway construction with only one elevated portion, a short section over the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The IND lines were the 8th Avenue and 6th Avenue trunk lines in Manhattan, the Queens Boulevard subway in Queens, the Concourse subway in the Bronx, the Fulton Street subway in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn/Queens Crosstown, and the line in Brooklyn via Smith/9th Sts. to Church Avenue. Certain IND lines underpinned existing IRT and BMT elevated lines (6th Av and Fulton St).

The trains of the BMT and IND lines are longer and wider than those of the IRT lines. Therefore an BMT/IND style train cannot fit into an IRT tunnel (the numbered lines and the 42nd Street Shuttle). An IRT train CAN fit into a BMT/IND tunnel but since it is narrower the distance from car to platform is unsafe. Cars from the IRT division are moved using BMT/IND tracks to Coney Island Overhaul Shops for major maintenance on a regular basis.

After city takeover of the bankrupt BMT and IRT companies on June 1, 1940, many of the elevated lines were closed, and a slow "unification" took place, marked notably by establishment of several free transfer points between divisions in 1948 and a few points of through running between IND and BMT lines beginning in 1954 (the connection of the BMT Culver line to the IND at Ditmas Avenue, and the BMT Broadway 60th Street tunnel to the IND Queens Boulevard line). In 1956, the IND connected with the ex-BMT Fulton St El for access to the Rockaways. The Chrystie Street connection in Manhattan, which opened in November, 1967, unified the Manhattan Bridge lines of the BMT with the Sixth Avenue lines of the IND, such that trains from Brooklyn now had access to all of the BMT and IND trunk lines in Manhattan (6th, 8th, Broadway, and Nassau St.). The 63rd Street Tunnel connection will form another link between the Broadway BMT Subway and Sixth Avenue IND Subway and the Queens Boulevard IND Subway (work to be completed by 2001).

Officially, the names IRT, BMT, and IND are no longer used, and the old systems are now designated as the "A Division" (ex-IRT lines), "B-1 Division" (BMT lines), and "B-2 Division" (IND lines), following the Chrystie St Connection opening in 1967. The distinction between the B divisions is blurred because of the unification projects noted above. There is one exception: the IND lacks a number of the sharp curves that one would find on the BMT (such as Crescent St - J, Graham Av - L).

Which Lines Were Former IRT, BMT, IND?

The names IRT, BMT, and IND were the names of the three competing transit agencies prior to city takeover in the 1940.

The Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Company was a private organization managed by financier August Belmont. The arrangement with the city, known now as "Contract One" was such that ownership of the line would be retained by the city, with construction and operational responsibility granted to the IRT Company. Construction on this first subway began in 1900, and service started on October 27, 1904. Its route followed today's #4-5-6 line from City Hall to 42nd Street, turning west into today's shuttle line with stops at Grand Central and Times (Longacre) Square, then turning north following today's #1-2-3 lines to 145th Street and Broadway. A Bronx route was constructed simultaneously and connected initially to the 3rd Avenue El, and then to the subway in 1905. The line was soon extended ("Contract Two") to Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, in 1908. The IRT also leased the Manhattan Railway elevated lines, the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 9th Avenue Elevated lines in Manhattan and the Bronx, for 999 years, as part of their operational contract with the city.

The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT, formerly the Brooklyn Rapid Transit, BRT) was the rapid transit company which built, bought, or assumed control of the Brooklyn elevated lines (the Culver, West End, Lexington, Myrtle, Broadway, Fulton, and Fifth Avenue Els, of which the Culver, West End, Broadway and parts of the Fulton and Myrtle still exist), and the ground-level extensions to southern Brooklyn, of which the Sea Beach and Brighton Beach were rebuilt for subway service.

Beginning in 1913, the city embarked on a project called the "Dual Contracts", under which the city built additional lines that were operated as part of the IRT and BMT systems. Finished mostly by 1920, some of the new lines (the Flushing and the Astoria lines in Queens) had trains operated by both companies. The Dual Contracts IRT lines were the Seventh Ave (south from Times Square) and Lexington Ave (north from Grand Central); the Jerome, White Plains Road and Pelham Bay Park branches in the Bronx, and the Brooklyn lines beyond Atlantic Ave. The BMT lines were the Broadway Subway and Nassau Street Subway in Manhattan, the 14th St.-Eastern District line from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and Fourth Ave., West End, and Culver lines in Brooklyn. Connections were also made to the company's Sea Beach and Brighton Beach lines.

The Independent Subway (IND) was formed by the City in the 1920s as a subway that would be "independent" of manipulation by the IRT and BMT companies. Initially a private operator was sought but eventually, the City's Board of Transportation began operation itself. This system consisted of entirely subway construction with only one elevated portion, a short section over the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The IND lines were the 8th Avenue and 6th Avenue trunk lines in Manhattan, the Queens Boulevard subway in Queens, the Concourse subway in the Bronx, the Fulton Street subway in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn/Queens Crosstown, and the line in Brooklyn via Smith/9th Sts. to Church Avenue. Certain IND lines underpinned existing IRT and BMT elevated lines with the intention of eventually replacing them.

The trains of the BMT and IND lines are longer and wider than those of the IRT lines. Therefore an BMT/IND style train cannot fit into an IRT tunnel. An IRT train CAN fit into a BMT/IND tunnel but since it is narrower the distance from car to platform is unsafe. Cars from the IRT division are moved using BMT/IND tracks to Coney Island Overhaul Shops for major maintenance on a regular basis.

After city takeover of the bankrupt BMT and IRT companies on June 1, 1940, many of the elevated lines were closed, and a slow "unification" took place, marked notably by establishment of several free transfer points between divisions in 1948 and a few points of through running between IND and BMT lines beginning in 1954. The Chrystie Street connection in Manhattan, which opened in November 1967, unified the Manhattan Bridge lines of the BMT with the Sixth Avenue lines of the IND, such that trains from Brooklyn now had access to all of the BMT and IND trunk lines in Manhattan (6th, 8th, Broadway, and Nassau St.). The 63rd Street Tunnel connection forms another link between the Broadway BMT Subway and Sixth Avenue IND Subway and the Queens Boulevard IND Subway.

Officially, the names IRT, BMT, and IND are no longer used. Beginning in 1967, the former systems were designated as the "A Division" (ex-IRT lines), "B-1 Division" (BMT lines), and "B-2 Division" (IND lines). The distinction between the B divisions is blurred because of the unification projects noted above.

So, which current lines were part of which old system?

  • 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9, Grand Central Shuttle: IRT
  • A: IND from 207th Street to the tunnel portal between Grant Avenue and 80th Street/Hudson Street. Elevated section from 80th Street/Hudson Street to Lefferts Blvd. former BMT Fulton Street elevated line. This portion of the Fulton el was connected to the IND in 1956. The whole Rockaway line, which branches at Rockaway Blvd was built by the Long Island Rail Road, and became a subway line in 1956.
  • B: IND from 205th Street to Broadway-Lafayette. BMT from the Manhattan Bridge to Coney Island. The Chrystie Street connector (which includes Grand Street station) built by the MTA after unification opened in 1967 connecting the two portions. The B runs part of the day to 21st Street-Queensbridge, built after unification and not part of either the former IND or BMT.
  • C: IND from 168th Street to Euclid Ave.
  • D: IND from 205th Street to Broadway-Lafayette. BMT from the Manhattan Bridge to Coney Island. The Chrystie Street connector (which includes Grand Street station) built by the MTA after unification opened in 1967 connecting the two portions.
  • E: IND from Van Wyck Blvd. to World Trade Center. The section between Jamaica/Van Wyck and Parsons/Archer was built after unification and opened in 1988.
  • F: IND from 179th to Church Ave. tunnel portal. BMT from Ditmas Ave. to Coney Island. The BMT portion of the route, known as the "Culver Line", was connected to the IND line in 1954. The Culver Line formerly connected to the West End line at 9th Ave. via a no-longer-existing elevated structure. The Ditmas Avenue-9th Avenue section operated as the "Culver Shuttle" until its abandonment in 1975.
  • G: IND along entire length.
  • J/Z: BMT from 121st St. to Broad Street. The section between 121st St and Parsons/Archer was built after unification and opened in 1988.
  • L: BMT along entire length.
  • M: BMT along entire length.
  • N: BMT along entire length. The line between Queensboro Plaza and Astoria, and the portion of the #7 between Queensboro Plaza and Main St. Flushing were jointly operated by the BMT and the IRT until 1948.
  • Q: IND from 47th-50th Streets to Broadway-Lafayette. BMT from Manhattan Bridge to Brighton Beach. The Chrystie Street connector (which includes Grand Street station) built by the MTA after unification opened in 1967 connecting the two portions. The section north of 47-50th St. to 57th St. opened in 1968, after the divisons were eliminated, but can be certainly considered IND. The section between 57th St. and 21st St-Queensbridge was opened in 1989.
  • R: BMT from 60th Street Tunnel to 95th Street. The "11th Street Connector", which connects the BMT tunnel to the IND Queens Boulevard line, opened in 1955 and was the second of the inter-divisional connections to open.
  • S (Franklin Shuttle): BMT along entire length.

Elevated Sections of the Subway

Bronx

Subway except the following (elevated unless noted):

  • Broadway line (1/9)
  • Jerome/Woodlawn line (4) from 157th St. to Woodlawn (with a few hundred feet of embankment around Bedford Park station)
  • White Plains Road line (2/5) from north of 149th St. station to end.
  • Dyre Avenue line (2) is on ground-level or embankment, except for a short tunnel from about midway between Gun Hill and Pelham Parkway stations, to Morris Park station.
  • Pelham Bay Line (6) from south of Whitlock Ave. station to Pelham Bay.

Manhattan

Subway except for the following (elevated unless noted)

  • Broadway line (1/9) from Dyckman Street to end; also a short viaduct between 135th and 122nd Streets (which includes the 125th Street Station)
  • Lenox Ave. line (3) north of 145th St. to Lenox Terminal on surface (although buildings built over top of some of the right of way).
  • Metro-North from north of 97th Street; Amtrak lines northbound from Penn Station run on ground level cut to tunnel under Riverside Park (72nd St. to 120th St.); Amtrak, NJ Transit, and LIRR have yard space on open cut level west of Penn Station.

Queens/Northern Brooklyn

Subway, except:

  • Astoria line (N) from west of Queensborough Plaza station to end.
  • Flushing Line (7) from just east of Hunters Point station to east of Willets Point station. Main Street terminal is underground.
  • Broadway Brooklyn/Jamaica/Myrtle Ave (J/Z/M) from Williamsburg Bridge to Metropolitan Ave.; and to west of 121st Street. Subway from that point to end (new Archer Avenue Subway).
  • Fulton/Rockaway (A/C) line from just west of Grant Ave. to Lefferts and to Rockaway Park and Far Rockaway.
  • The Independent Subway temporary line to the 1939-40 World's Fair was on the surface. (The only surface line built by the IND, excluding yard trackage and leads.)

Southern Brooklyn

Subway, except:

  • IND Church Ave. (F/G) line south of Carroll St. to east of 4th Ave. (This is the only elevated section of the Independent Subway, which crosses the Gowanus Canal, and it's the the highest point above the surface on the subway system.
  • Canarsie Line (L) from midway between Halsey and Wilson, and midway between Wilson and Bushwick. The southbound track is on the surface; northbound in subway. Elevated or on surface from north of Broadway Junction to Rockaway Parkway.
  • Livonia Ave.-New Lots (3) line from midway between Utica and Sutter to end.
  • West End Line (B) from between 36th St. and 9th Ave. to Coney Island.
  • Sea Beach Line (N) from west of junction with 4th Ave. line to Coney Island (open cut with tunnels and overhead bridges for cross streets)
  • Culver Line (F) from midway between Church Ave. and Ditmas to Coney Island
  • Brighton Line (D,Q) from Prospect Park to Coney Island (open cut from Prospect Park to South of Newkirk Ave., embankment to south of Sheepshead Bay, and elevated to Coney Island. The embankment portion had the LIRR tracks to the east of the line as far as Ave W.)
  • Franklin Shuttle (S) from Fulton St. to Prospect Park, open cut and elevated with tunnels at Eastern Parkway and just north of Prospect Park

PATH, Newark, SIRT

  • PATH: Subway in Jersey City and New York City, to midway between Grove St. and Journal Square. Surface or bridge viaduct to Newark.
  • Newark City Subway: Subway from Penn Station to just north of Warren St., surface or open cut to Franklin Ave.
  • Staten Island Rapid Transit: St. George terminal is on the surface, but under the approach ramps to the ferry terminal. There is a tunnel between south of St. George and north of Tompkinsville. Otherwise Tottenville line, and former South Beach and North Shore lines are surface/cut/elevated.

Connections Between Lines

There are track connections that are not used for passenger service at the following places. This list does not include Unused Express Tracks or parts of or provisions for routes not built.

Unused Track Connections

  • Stillwell Avenue: All of the incoming lines (Brighton, Sea Beach, West End, and Culver) can connect to each other either via direct moves or reverse moves through the station. This was used for a short-lived NX express service starting at Brighton Beach, through Stillwell Avenue, to Manhattan via Sea Beach, 1967-1968.
  • BMT Canarsie Subway/BMT Jamaica El: A connection between these two lines at East New York-Broadway Junction allows for trains to/from Canarsie to travel via the Broadway Elevated to the Williamsburg Bridge. This was used for the K service via Chrystie Street listed below.
  • BMT Franklin Shuttle/BMT Brighton Line: The shuttle connects to the Brighton main line at Prospect Park. This was used prior to the construction of the subway line north of Prospect Park for through trains via Franklin line to the LIRR (1878-1883) and to the Fulton Street Elevated (1896-1920). The Fulton St. El connection was severed in 1920 when the Brighton-Flatbush Avenue subway connection opened. There were Franklin--Coney Island trains as late as 1964.
  • BMT Brighton Line/BMT Broadway Subway: At DeKalb Avenue, there is an unused set of switch tracks that would permit trains northbound from the Brighton line to access the Montague Street tunnel (which connects to the Broadway and Nassau subways), and southbound trains from Montague Street to access the Brighton Line. This was formerly used for "M" service before the "M" was rerouted to the West End line.
  • The Brooklyn IRT: At Atlantic Avenue, a trackway for a connection from the LIRR Flatbush Terminal to the northbound IRT local. Rumors abound; the track may or may not have ever been installed; August Belmont "might" have used it for access from "his" subway to his racetrack on Long Island. Listed here as honorable mention.
  • IND 8th Avenue/IND 6th Avenue: A connection from the 8th Avenue Local to the 6th Avenue local just south of West 4th Street station. The routing complexities of the 6th and 8th Avenue lines is probably why it is now only used for emergency reroutes. The JFK Express "Train to the Plane" used this connection, and was used prior to the Chrystie Street connection opening for a 169th Street-Jay Street service via Rutgers St. Tunnel.
  • BMT Broadway Subway: a connecting track from 57th St. & 7th Ave. to the 63rd Street Subway under Central Park is not normally used in revenue service except during periods of construction.
  • IRT Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle: Track four (north side of 42nd Street) connects to West Side uptown local via a removable bridge at the end of the Times Square platforms; track one is connected the East Side downtown local through a short tunnel that remains from the original IRT construction.
  • The Brooklyn IRT: A short track connection between Bowling Green and South Ferry on the West Side IRT. Also, the short "shuttle" platform track which connects only to the southbound track to South Ferry (and not to the Main Line to Brooklyn. The access from the IRT main line around the inner loop and back is still used to turn trains but there is no passenger service to the inner loop. See the station description of Bowling Green for more details.
  • City Hall Station: The loop track through City Hall Station south of Brooklyn Bridge.
  • IND Rockaway Line: A single track connects the branches of the wye at Hammels. This has been used in the past as the Rockaway round-robin shuttle service and occasionally during construction.

Evidence of Former Lines and Connections

Connections to old, abandoned, and demolished elevated lines are still visible at the following locations.

  • IRT White Plains Road Line: Just north of the 149th Street/Third Avenue station, exiting the tunnel portal, one can see the initial framework of the Third Avenue El line. There used to be a connection from the White Plains Road line to the Third Avenue El, which ran south across the Harlem River to Manhattan. The other end of the Third Avenue El connected to the White Plains Road line at the lower level of the Gun Hill Road station (Closed 1973). Also on the White Plains Road line is the remnant of the short section of track to the original Bronx Park terminal (Closed August 4, 1952).
  • IRT Woodlawn Line: North of the 161st Street - Yankee Stadium station is the framework for the connection from the 9th Avenue elevated line. After the demolition of the 9th Avenue El, the short section between the Woodlawn line and the Polo Grounds operated as a shuttle (Closed August 13, 1958). For a full tour, visit The 9th Avenue Elevated-Polo Grounds Shuttle.
  • IRT Dyre Avenue Line: The Dyre Avenue line was part of the New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway; it continued north beyond Dyre Ave. to White Plains and Port Chester; and south of the present connection to the White Plains Road line at 180th St., to 133rd St where it ran along side the New Haven Railroad. The platforms of the NYW&B station are still visible at East 180th Street station and are sometimes used to store trains. (The station at this location was closed by the NYW&B in 1938, and reopened for Dyre Avenue shuttle service 1941-1957.) The structure south of East 180 St ends abruptly at the foot of 177 St. A portion of the structure, which ran into Amtrak's North East Corridor, was demolished in anticipation that a new Coliseum Bus Depot would be built.
  • IRT Flushing Line: part of the trackway from the Queensborough Bridge line is still visible at the east end of Queensborough Plaza. (Bridge service ended 6/13/1942, use of northern half of Queensborough Plaza station ended October 1949.)
  • BMT Nassau Street-Jamaica Line: used to connect to the south side of the Manhattan Bridge north of Chambers Street. The trackways are still used for train storage and are visible from passing J/M/Z trains. (Closed November 26? 28? 1967 when Chrystie Street opened.)
  • Manhattan Bridge - Canal Street Original Subway: Heading northbound over the Manhattan Bridge north side, an abandoned tunnel is visible before entering the subway to Grand Street, which was the former connection to the Broadway Express. Heading northbound on the south side, the remains of the tunnel to the BMT Nassau loop is briefly visible. This area was reconfigured as part of the 1960s Chrystie Street construction project.
  • Fulton St. El: Trackways are still visible at BMT Canarsie Line stations at Broadway Junction/East New York and Atlantic Ave. Framework for the el was until early 1998, visible at the Franklin Shuttle station at Franklin Avenue and Fulton Street. The structure served as a pedestrian walkway for customers going to the Fulton St subway. This structure was demolished as part of the Franklin Shuttle modernization. Also, on the A line heading northbound (westbound) from 80th Street, you can see the stub end of the old BMT Fulton El continuing straight ahead while the A curves into the tunnel and Grant Ave. Station.
  • BMT Nassau Street-Jamaica Line: Upper level station at Myrtle Avenue was Myrtle Ave. El line to Jay Street. (Closed south of Broadway October 4, 1969, demolished 1970.) Also, the cutoff of the short line from Marcy Avenue to the Broadway Ferry landing is still visible east of Marcy Avenue (used for revenue service until 1916, used to store equipment until 1942).
  • BMT Culver Line: At 9th Ave./39th St. and at Ditmas Ave. the original Culver line (later the Culver Shuttle) connected. (The trackway is visible at Ditmas Ave. and the ramps are visible at 9th Avenue.) On the other side of 9th Ave. the ramps to the old BRT/BMT 5th Avenue Elevated are still visible from passing trains.
  • On PATH, the tunnel heading for the proposed Astor Place line can be seen north of 9th St.
  • The LIRR Rockaway Line (Ozone Park Branch): the right of way is still clearly visible near Woodhaven Boulevard. The line ends where the IND subway meets with the former right of way south of Liberty Av. In the early 1950s, the LIRR structure between the present Far Rockaway Terminus and the Mott Av A train station was demolished when the Rockaway Line was acquired by the City of New York.
  • BMT Broadway/Jamaica El west of Gates Avenue: Although not visible on the elevated level, from the street one can see where the structure turned onto Lexington Av to head toward the Brooklyn Bridge (between the columns).

Places Where It Looks Like Lines Connect But They Don't

From looking at the subway system route map there appear to be a number of connections that might be useful for current or future subway routings. Here are some that appear to exist but DON'T.

  • There is no connection between the J and E lines of the Archer Avenue Subway. The Archer Avenue Subway consists of two tracks on each of two separate levels, and there is no interconnection between levels.
  • There is no connection between the A and G lines at Hoyt/Schermerhorn, e.g. for allowing a southbound G train to use the Cranberry Street tunnel to Manhattan/8th Avenue.
  • The connection of the 8th Ave. and 6th Ave. IND lines via 53rd Street do not permit all logical routes, e.g. a train heading uptown on 8th Ave., cannot turn and head downtown via 6th Ave., and a train heading downtown on 8th Ave. cannot head "uptown" to Queens.

RoutePossible?
From Queens to 6th Avenue downtownYes - F train
From Queens to 8th Avenue downtownYes - E train
From 8th Avenue uptown to QueensYes - E train
From 6th Avenue uptown to QueensYes - F train
From 6th Avenue uptown to 8th Avenue uptownYes - B, D trains
From 8th Avenue downtown to 6th Avenue downtownYes - B, D trains
From Queens to 8th Avenue uptownNO
From 8th Avenue uptown to 6th Avenue downtownNO

Interconnections Between Divisions

Due to the difference in tunnel clearances, the IRT and BMT/IND lines are operated separately. However there are some places where the former IRT lines and former BMT/IND lines connect. These are mostly used for work and revenue collection trains (which are IRT sized), and for moving IRT passenger cars to shops on the IND/BMT lines (Coney Island Overhaul, 207th Street Overhaul) for maintenance. The connections are:

  • A one-track connection between the IRT #3 (New Lots Line) and the BMT "L" Canarsie line near the Junius St. Station, for Linden Yard access. There is no third rail on this connection. The yard is normally used for work trains powered by diesel locomotives.
  • A diamond crossover on the upper level of Queensboro Plaza, between the N and the 7. This connection is the #7 line's sole connection to any other line in the system and is used for bringing #7 cars on and off the line for maintenance (or delivery of new cars).
  • Yard leads connect the Concourse Yard to the #4 line just north of Kingsbridge Road station and to the Concourse Subway just south of 205th Street.
  • Yard leads connect the 207th Street Yard to the #1 line north of 207th St station and to the 8th Avenue IND subway.

Express Tracks

Unused Express Tracks

There are quite a few express tracks, especially on elevated lines, which are not used.

  • IRT Dyre Avenue Line: Combinations of track and right of way between the flyover and Dyre Ave. In 1998, track work was performed connecting a center track between Baychester Ave. and Pelham Pkwy. This track is utilized solely for the purpose of testing the new R142 rolling stock.
  • IRT Pelham Line: Single center track between East 177th Street and Pelham Bay Park. Part of the track is used for layups for the 6-Express service which originates/terminates at E177th St.
  • BMT Sea Beach Line: One center tracks between 86th Street and 8th Avenue. This was briefly used by the "NX" service in 1967-1968. In 1999, one of the tracks was rehabilitated and the other was disconnected from the line leaving it unusable. The track is used occasionally for reroutes in either direction and possibly equipment testing. In the past these tracks have been used to store rolling stock destined for the scrapper.
  • BMT West End Line: Single center track between 9th Avenue and Bay 50th Street. Occasionally used for reroutes in either direction.
  • BMT Brighton Line: Two center tracks between Brighton Beach and Ocean Parkway. These are used for layups and for terminating/turning Q trains but are listed here since they are a continuation of the express tracks from the Brighton line, and exist through Ocean Parkway station.
  • IND Crosstown Line / BMT Culver Line: Two center tracks on the IND portion between Jay St and Church Avenue (between 7th Avenue and Church, the tracks are in a separate tunnel), and on the BMT potion a single center track between Church Ave. and Avenue X.
  • IRT West Side Line: Single center track between 96th Street and 145th Street. This is technically a storage track at this time.
  • BMT Astoria Line: Single center track between 39th Avenue and Ditmars Blvd. terminal.
  • IND 8th Avenue/Fulton Street/Rockaway Line: On the ex-BMT Fulton El portion, a single center track between Rockaway Blvd. and west of 88th St./Boyd Avenue (the track continues thru 80th St./Hudson St. but leads only to the Pitkin Yard), and two center tracks from north of Aqueduct to south of Howard Beach on the IND Rockaway branch.
  • IND Queens Boulevard Line: Two center tracks between Van Wyck Blvd. and 179th St. Formerly used by E service before opening of the Archer Ave. Subway.

Three-Track Lines

Most rapid transit systems are either two tracks or four tracks (local+express). The subway system has many 3-track segments for peak-direction express service. Not all are used.

  • #1 - 242/VCP South to just North of Dyckman St, then from 145th St. to just North of 96th St., Bronx/Manhattan.
  • #2/#5 - From just South of the 241th St. terminus all the way to 3rd Ave (just East of the 3rd Ave. stn.)
  • #4 - From Woodlawn (south of the stn.) to 138th St. Grand Concourse
  • #5 - From South of Dyre Ave to south of Morris Park (trackways for 4 tracks but only 3 in place)
  • #6 - Pelham Bay Park to 138th St-3rd Ave, Bronx
  • #7 - West of 33rd/Rawson to Main Street, All Queens
  • A - From the Pitkin Ave. yard lead Eastbound to Lefferts Blvd (with a slight interruption just at the Rockaways turnouts East of the Rockaway Blvd. station).
  • B - From 9th Ave. to Bay 50th St., Brooklyn
  • B/D Concourse - 145th Street, Manhattan to Bedford Park Blvd, Bronx
  • F - Ditmas Avenue to Avenue X, All Brooklyn
  • J/M/Z- Eastern Parkway to Marcy Avenue, All Brooklyn
  • N - Queensboro Plaza to Ditmars Blvd, All Queens
  • G - The station at Bedford-Nostrand has three tracks. This is just before the line turns north, an obvious planned eastward extension towards Broadway.
  • The 42nd Street shuttle is operationally three tracks, with a fourth disused trackway.

How New Subway Cars Are Delivered

Most recent car orders (R-142A, R-143, R-160, R-179) are delivered by flatbed truck to the 207th Street Yard in Manhattan where they are loaded onto the tracks and towed by diesel locomotive to their prepping location.

The Bombardier R-142 cars were being delivered by train on lowbody flatcars (not on their own wheels) from their facility in Plattsburgh, New York, via Oak Point Yard in the Bronx; then towed over the Hell Gate Bridge and onto the Bay Ridge branch of the LIRR, where there is a connection to the IRT Livonia Avenue line in Linden Yard. Service into Livonia Yard is provided by the New York & Atlantic Railway, and from there, the cars were towed by NYCTA diesel locomotive to East 180th Street Yard in the Bronx.

In the past, subway cars being delivered, refurbished, or sent out for scrapping often travelled through a railroad connection to the BMT West End line at 9th Avenue called the South Brooklyn Railway, or SBK. Diesel locomotives are used to haul cars into the Bush Terminal warehouse area. The SBK crossed 3rd Avenue by the Costco warehouse store and and connects to a railway on the waterfront referred to as the NY Cross Harbor Railroad. Subway cars would travel by barge to Jersey City (Greenville) NJ and from there onto the railroad network.

Station Name Changes

Recent Changes

By William Zucker. Many stations on our system have undergone name changes over the years. Some of the more recent ones that have taken place are in response to a suggestion by Committee for Better Transit, an activist organization that was far more visible in the past than in recent years. These recent changes are based on the premise that all stations within a transfer complex should bear the same name, for "easier indentification."

These may be useful for those out-of-towners and tourists who use the system on a very occasional or transient basis, but for those using it every day, most are already inured to its peculiarities and do not need such specifics.

  • IND Broadway-East New York, as well as BMT Broadway-Jamaica Line Eastern Parkway, are now both Broadway Junction.
  • IND Broadway-Nassau St. is now Fulton St.
  • BMT Lawrence St. (with Metro-Tech later added on) is now Jay St.-Metro-Tech, although the station never reached Jay St.
  • BMT Pacific St. is now Atlantic Ave.-Pacific St. even though, rather ironically, the Atlantic Ave. exit from this station closed several years ago and has never reopened.
  • In addition, on Metro North, 125th St. is now Harlem-125th St. But as long as they want to be so community-specific, perhaps it should have been designated East Harlem-125th St.

The Bronx

  • IRT White Plains Rd. Line - Simpson St. With such an important cross street as Southern Blvd. located just a block away (this configuration obviously resulted from the curve at that point and the desired avoiding of placing a station along a curve) should the name Southern Blvd. be included in the name?
  • IRT Pelham Line - Sound View Ave. The now prevalent inclusion of Morrison Ave. in the station name could have come about for precisely this reason.
  • On the IRT Bronx Lines, the terminal stations were originally designated in a somewhat unexpected manner: 242nd St.-Broadway originally read Van Cortlandt Park - Manhattan College. There was no 242nd St. sign anywhere on the station. The now-abandoned 180th St.-Bronx Park station originally read 180th St.-New York ZoologicalPark. Pelham Bay Park originally read Pelham Bay Parkway.
  • Many stations had different names when the first opened, and were immediately changed afterward. All of these I feel were for the better as giving more accurate information in terms of later years. Such are the IRT 149th St.-Grand Concourse White Plains Rd. Line lower level station, originally Mott Ave., IRT 138th St.-Grand Concourse, Jerome Ave. Line, originally Mott Haven, and IRT Broadway Line 125th St., originally Manhattan St.
  • Along the IRT Jerome Ave. Line at one time, prior to the modernization of station signage, the benefits of which one could debate about, many of its stations had numbered streets indicated within the designations, on the tabs on the lamps along the extensions. Thus, Mt. Eden Ave., Burnside Ave., Fordham Rd., Kingsbridge Rd., and Bedford Park Blvd. were at least partially co-indicated as 173rd, 180th, 189th, 194th, and 200th Sts.
  • On the abandoned Third Ave. Line in the Bronx, Claremont Pkway was very cleverly designated, with an additional description citing between 171st and 172nd St.
  • There are many others that could be cited. Should 205th St. at the end of the IND Concourse Line become Perry Ave.? It might if the line were to be ever extended as proposed in the Second System of the Independent Subway.

Queens

  • Many streets in Queens in earlier times had different names from the ones used today, especially the numbered streets. Those along the Astoria and Flushing Lines are well known and still vernacularly used even though the TA has in recent years attempted to do away with them. The same is true of the stations along the outer IND/former BMT Fulton St. line to Lefferts Blvd. Less known is the fact that many of the outer stations of the BMT Jamaica Ave. Line (especially the abandoned portion) also originally had different names, which could be evidenced under the lettering of the original enamel signs; the impressions were clearly visible. Those on the IND Rockaway Line are still used.
  • Continental Ave. on the IND Queens Line survived for many years because it was an important terminal for local trains serving the inner portion, and even started to reappear on the street signs. The older post war cars (R-27/30's through R-46's) still carried this on their roll signs, but in more recent years, the TA has endeavored to squelch this usage by reverting to the more prosaic 71st Ave.
  • On the now IRT Corona-Flushing Line what was designated on maps as 104th St. - Corona Plaza -Alburtis Ave., on the actual station, the signs were changed from 104th to 103rd St. sometime during the 1940's, with the other designations remaining.
  • On the BMT Jamaica Ave. Line, the 102nd St. station had the 102nd St. exit closed, so the station sensibly was redesignated by the street at the other exit, 104th St.

Brooklyn

  • BMT Brighton Line - 7th Ave. The actual cross street where all exits ever have been is Park Pl.; there has never been an exit at 7th Ave.
  • BMT Brighton Line - Newkirk Ave. The important cross street here is Foster Ave., not Newkirk Ave., which is little more than an alleyway by comparison. Perhaps they were thinking of Newkirk Plaza when they named the station, but if so, it is simply another example of the loose semantics in common use during the pre-war years - Astoria Ave. and Ditmars Ave. on the BMT Astoria Line; Lefferts Ave. on the IND Fulton St. Line, and Fort Hamilton Ave. on the BMT Sea Beach Line.
  • BMT/IND Culver Line - Van Sicklen. On older maps even appearing as Van Sicklen or even Siclen Ave., a meaningless designation, as it is nowhere near the Van Sicklen St. located in Gravesend further up the line. It was probably the best decision to rename the station Neptune Ave. as providing information about the nearest cross street, which however is still a short distance from the station.
  • One could, however, scarcely regret the disappearance of 22nd Ave. on the Sea Beach and Culver Lines, and its replacement by Bay Parkway which is actually much more descriptive. Locals still refer to Bay Ridge Ave. and Bay Ridge Parkway as 69th St. and 75th St. respectively.
  • This brings to mind the possibility of other such name modifications or additions:

BMT Culver Line
Ditmas Ave.Cortelyou Rd.-16th Ave.
Ave. I20th Ave.
Ave. N60th St. (24th Ave.)
Ave. P65th St.
Ave. X86th St.
BMT West End Line
50th St.12th Ave. (I believe this station is actually at 49th St.)
55th St.13th Ave.
62nd St.60th St.-14th Ave.
71st St.Bay Ridge Ave.-16th Ave.
79th St.17th Ave.

  • BMT Kosciusko St., Broadway-Brooklyn Line might perhaps better be known as De Kalb Ave.
  • On the BMT Manhattan Bridge Line, Myrtle Ave. (now closed) was originally Gold St., changed during construction. And at the other end, the Canal St. lower level station was originally designated Broadway, with Canal St. enamel signs added because the Broadway was clearly inadequate, but the station never reached Broadway. By necessity it was some considerable distance away (evidenced in thatlong transfer passageway between bridge and tunnel trains) due to the extreme curve at that point.
  • It has been mentioned to me that Liberty Ave. on the IND Fulton St. Line should perhaps be designated Pennsylvania Ave. Similarly, the IRT New Lots Ave. station might perhaps instead be Ashford St.
  • The IND High St.-Brooklyn Bridge station presents an interesting case. At the time opened, High St. extended across the plaza to Fulton St. All those intervening streets connecting Washington St. to Fulton St. were obliterated after the war, with the result that only a tiny block of High St. remains, not where the station is located. And until about the 1970's or so, when this penchant for modernizing all signs took hold, the entrance kiosk at this station read Smith St.-8th Ave., reflecting the earliest years when the A train actually did operate to Church Ave. (until 1936), before the Fulton St. Line was ready. Presumably, most remained unaware of this very interesting piece of history as it remained in place for many years.

Manhattan

  • IND 6th Ave. 47th-50th St.-Rockefeller Center. The station never reached 50th St. One has a choice of walking a city block either on the street or through an underground passageway from the fare controls to access 50th St. One might as well have referred to 59th St.-Columbus Circle as 57th-61st St.-Columbus Circle. 57th St. is similarly only accessible by city block or underground passageway; there was an exit at 61st St. which unfortunately the Police Department took over for their own uses, although I have used that exit many times.
  • IND West 4th St.-Washington Square. Aside from being nowhere near Washington Square, the station itself, although centered on West 4th St., does not have an exit at that cross street. The same is true of IND Carroll St.; centered on that street, but no exit at that point.
  • BMT Broad St. on the Nassau St. Line should certainly be renamed Wall St.
  • 163rd St.-Amsterdam Ave. Similarly, on the IND Washington Heights Line, at the 163rd St.-Amsterdam Ave. station, the 163rd St. exit has been closed and sealed up for years. It would be clearly desirable to rename the station in full as 161st St.-Amsterdam Ave.
  • Times Square. A word about the Times Square complex. The name appears to refer only to the general locality, and except for the shuttle station, does not skirt Times Square at all. The stations on the two main lines, the IRT 7th Ave. and BMT Broadway, barely reach 42nd St. (although the latter line has a station at 49th St. whose 47th St. exit actually does touch Times Square). The Flushing Line runs along 41st St. at that point and thus is not in Times Square.

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