Interior of the money train via Wikipedia
In order to collect fares from various stations, the MTA created a special armored train that moved all the subway and bus fares collected to a secret room at 370 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn. As Untapped Cities learned, the money trains, which ran from 1951 to 2006, had 12 collecting agents and one supervisor, all of whom were armed and wearing body armor. After the Metrocard arrived, the revenue collection system changed, and the final armored train rode in January 2006 on the same day the Money Room closed.
Six nights per week, multiple money trains would pick up fares from 25 to 40 stations on each run. For security reasons, the schedule wasn’t made public and often changed. The train had two cars, with one holding the collecting agents and the revenue in the second. The collections would then be delivered to the Department of Revenue’s Money Room, which was inside the 13-story building on Jay Street. To make the process discreet, the building was equipped with special security systems, a secret elevator on the second floor, and even special tunnels. In the Money Room, currency counters and sorter could process 30 bills per second.
Prior to the Money Room, fares were collected from station booths and transported using a car. Tokens were introduced two years after 370 Jay Street opened but were later phased out completely by 2003.
The 1995 movie Money Train starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson and Jennifer Lopez even centers on the money train, depicting a New Year’s Eve robbery. As this New York Times article explains, real-life robberies were actually pretty common.
In 2016, the former MTA headquarters at 370 Jay Street began its transformation by NYU into a $500 million expansion of its Downtown Brooklyn tech campus for the Tandon School of Engineering.
- The New York City subway in fascinating facts and figures
- The history of the New York City MetroCard
- All the MTA fare hikes of the last 100 years
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on May 8, 2017.