The long-anticipated–and long-delayed–batch of about 70 shiny new subway cars will roll into stations before the end of the year according to the MTA as reported by AM New York. The new cars will replace the system’s oldest–and most breakdown-prone–cars on the J, Z and C lines. Another 230 more are scheduled to hit the MTA rails over the course of 2018. Steve Plochochi, the MTA’s vice president of procurement and material, called the cars’ arrival “long-awaited good news,” and outlined MTA plans for a “major design change” in subway cars for future models.
Peter Samson, standing in the center, and his teammates during the failed 1966 run. From the New York Herald-Tribune, via the Queens Borough Public Library
In May of 1940, electric railroad enthusiast Herman Rinke became the first person to tour the entire New York City subway system on a single token, putting in 25 some hours underground all for fun. After reading about Rinke’s journey, Peter Samson, a computer software engineer who later invented the world’s first video game Spacewar, decided to take a stab at making his own record. As the Times recounts, he formed the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee (ANYSRC) to develop rules for the challenge. After one failed attempt in 1966, Samson, with the help of 15 volunteers and a computer program that tracked the fastest route, completed the trip in 25 hours, 50 minutes and 30 seconds on April 21, 1967. Since then, the subway challenge has taken off for puzzle and transit lovers worldwide.
Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has been trying to stay focused on grounded solutions–literally, as opposed to the tunnel and skyway ideas that are also being discussed–to mitigate the anticipated possible chaos when the dreaded 15-month L train shutdown hits. The organization is aiming for the ear of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the MTA which control street design and bus expansion, respectively. The group recently held an “L-ternative” contest seeking pedestrian-centered proposals for main transit corridors along the L line, such as 14th street, Gothamist reports. The winning proposal, called 14TH ST.OPS, imagines a (car) traffic-free 14th Street with a six-stop shuttle bus using dedicated lanes, plus protected bike lanes.
Although the recent subway and bus fare hike affects all New Yorkers, low-income residents are being especially hard hit by the jump in cost. As a way to ease this financial burden, the City Council has proposed a $50 million pilot program as part of the “Fair Fares” initiative which will provide half-fare MetroCards to New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line. As the Daily News learned, transit advocates say nearly 800,000 residents would be eligible for the discount under the full plan.
Like New York, Boston’s subway system is organized with a different color for each route. Unlike NYC, however, there’s no corresponding numbers, so the lines along the T are actually referred to by their respective hues. Which is why Boston resident Ari Ofsevit, a transportation engineering and urban planning graduate student at MIT, found it odd that the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority didn’t use the same colors on their Twitter alerts as were found on their maps and signs. As Next City reported, this inspired him to create a graphic comparing the various colors of 13 major transit lines across the U.S. and Canada.
It’s official. The Metropolitan Transit Authority board voted to approve a 15-month shutdown of the L train on Monday, instead of the originally proposed 18 months. The Board also awarded a $477 million contract to Judlau Contracting and TC Electric, who will responsible for repairing the train’s Canarsie Tunnel, which suffered severe flooding damage after Hurricane Sandy (h/t WSJ). The planned shutdown is set to begin in April 2019 and cuts all L train service between Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
Last January, Governor Cuomo announced a massive undertaking to “modernize and fundamentally transform” the MTA and the subway by adding more countdown clocks, contactless payment by next year, Wi-Fi at all stations (mission accomplished, here), and other high-tech features. It also included news that 30 stations would be revamped, requiring them to shut down entirely for six to 12 months, instead of just on nights and weekends. As of Monday, as amNY tells us, the first three on this list– the R train stations at 53rd Street in Sunset Park, Bay Ridge Avenue, and Prospect Avenue–will close for half a year for a combined $72 million renovation.
The least affordable U.S. city for public transit isn’t NYC (and more fun facts about the cost of commuting), Thu, March 23, 2017
In light of NYC’s recent subway fare hike that bumped the price of a monthly pass to $121, the data jocks at ValuePenguin took a look at public transportation systems throughout the U.S. and ranked them according to affordability, based on the cost of a pass as a percentage of income and the median income of the city’s commuters. Among the findings: New York City’s transit system isn’t the most unaffordable; that honor goes to Los Angeles. Washington D.C. topped the most affordable list among large cities, followed by San Francisco and Boston.
Read on for more insight on the cost of a commute
Swiping a fellow New Yorker through the subway turnstile with your MetroCard is practically a New York pastime. But is it actually legal? As DNAinfo reports, the NYPD and MTA say it’s completely lawful to help another rider gain access to the subway, as long as you’re not charging them for the swipe. And for those looking for a free ride? Last year, the city changed their policy on “fare-begging,” which lowered the consequence for riders asking for a swipe from an arrest to a ticket or summons.
Finally, there’s some good news for the nearly 225,000 daily L train riders commuting to Manhattan. This weekend the Metropolitan Transit Authority announced that the Canarsie tube, which carries the L train between Manhattan and Brooklyn, will be closed for 15 months instead of 18, three months ahead of schedule. As reported by the Daily News, the MTA plans to begin rehabilitating the tunnel in April of 2019.
This weekend, celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s 331st birthday by listening to musicians play all the Baroque hits in subway stations across the city. From Saturday to Monday, Bach in the Subways will bring hundreds of performers underground and above, sharing the German composer’s work with New Yorkers for free as part of the MTA’s Music Under New York program.
New York City’s avenue blocks are long, as are its winters; getting from Rockefeller Center to Times Square can be an unpleasant, cold and crowded experience–unless you take the underground passageway, the city’s largest, that spans the entire two-block-plus distance. Below, take a virtual stroll from avenue to avenue (and from the B/D/F/M to the N/R/W subways): Enter on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Street and exit at Seventh Avenue and 49th Street–and buy yourself a few more minutes before you burrow into that parka.
We already know that the MTA holds monthly online sales of ephemera–including everything from retired subway cars to vintage tokens–but apparently individuals with their own collections of transit collectibles can also make a pretty penny selling the goods. Take for example this 100-year-old subway sign that Gothamist spotted for sale on Etsy for $150,000. Sure, the price tag may seem fair for a century-old relic, but the 8′ x 11″ piece is a simple white sign with black letters that read “Times Square.” And it’s authenticity isn’t actually confirmed…
For those who thought removing subway station garbage cans as a means to decrease litter and rats seemed counterintuitive, you were right. The Post looks at how things have fared since the MTA took out cans in 39 stations in 2012, and since this tactic was nixed by the state Comptroller’s Office in 2015. Despite the latter attempt to course correct, a new state report shows that the situation is still just as bad in many stations, with the amount of litter on the upswing and an increased number of track fires.
Despite the fact that NYC today has more than 8.5 million residents, the subway system had some of the highest ridership numbers back in the 1940s. In fact, a 1948 record was only recently beat in 2015 when 5.7 million rode the train daily, with annual ridership hitting 1.7 billion–another high not reached since the 1940s. To show just how packed the subway was 60 years ago, 6sqft has uncovered this 1949 film footage of daily subway operations from the New York Transit Museum Archives, which shows the crew working all the angles to keep trains running on time, while crowds jostle and shove to get to where they’re going.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget includes a “hidden” $65 million cut to state funding headed for the MTA, the Daily News reports. The $244 million in funding–compared to $309 million in 2016–represents a 21 percent drop in money from the state’s general fund intended to shore up the MTA after a drastic 2011 payroll tax cut on regional businesses the transit agency serves. The funding cut comes on the heels of data that show subway delays have more than doubled during that same time period according to the New York Times.
New Yorkers living in the outer reaches of Brooklyn and Queens may soon find some relief when it comes to their daily commutes. The MTA’s New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) is looking to make travel more efficient and affordable for those residing in the city’s transit deserts through a “Freedom Ticket” pilot initiative that will, says Gothamist, temporarily offer discounted flat-fee tickets for bus, subway and commuter rail travel with unlimited free transfers.
When the Second Avenue Subway opened on the first of the year, it changed the lives of many commuters, namely those living in Yorkville on the Upper East Side who had long walks to the 4/5/6 trains and then faced their notoriously tight cars and frequent delays. But those New Yorkers who still rely on the Lexington Avenue line have also gotten some relief: According to a New York Times analysis of MTA data, on an average January weekday, ridership fell by about 11 percent, or 88,000 trips, between 110th Street and Grand Central, undoubtedly a direct effect of the Second Avenue line’s average ridership of 140,000.
This morning MTA officials voted in favor of a subway and bus fare hike, which will go into effect March 19, writes The Times. The transit agency opted not to increase per-ride costs to $3, as previously floated, but to instead up monthly and weekly MetroCard prices from $116.50 and $31 to $121 and $32, respectively. Moreover, although the base price of a ride will not see an increase, there will be a decrease in the “bonus” riders get when they add money to their cards. This will drop from 11 percent to just 5 percent.
On Monday, numbers released by the MTA served to confirm something we’ve all known for quite some time now: NYC subway service sucks. More than 60,000 delays plagued weekday service in November 2016, an increase of nearly 10,000 delays over the previous November. The less than favorable figures are a major sore spot for the agency, which is hoping to approve a 25 cent fare hike this week that would bring the cost of a single swipe to $3.
This past May the MTA recorded 50,436 subway delays, 697 of which were caused by track fires that could have been ignited by the 40 tons of trash that are removed from the system every day. To curb this ongoing issue, the agency announced in August “Operation Trash Sweep,” an initiative that upped the frequency by which the 622 miles of tracks get cleaned. At the time, the MTA said it would also employ individually-operated Mobile Vacs that workers can use to quickly suck up trash. Yesterday, the agency released a video of the Vacs being tested, which not only shows their incredible force, but gives an overview of how the Operation is shaping up.
At a board meeting over the summer, the MTA began discussions about increasing subway and bus fare to $3 by 2017 “in an effort to raise more than $300 million annually,” as 6sqft reported at the time. The Daily News has now learned that the agency will officially recommend the four-percent increase at their board meeting next week. Though they’ll be passing on another option that would’ve kept fares at $2.75, the hike will increase the bonuses that come with re-loading one’s MetroCard from 11 to 16 percent, “an extra 96 cents for every $6 purchase.”
The Houston Street 1 station is #cronut; the PATH train’s World Trade Center station is #neverforget; and the Cathedral Parkway/110th Street station is #Seinfeld. This is the NYC subway map according to each stop’s most popular Instagram hashtag. CityLab first shared the fun visualization, titled #tagsandthecity, and pointed out that, though the map has categories for sightseeing/monuments, shopping, leisure, culture/museums, and hotel/travel, it’s the food and drink that really takes the cake. From #redrooster and #robertas to #shakeshack and #halalguys, it seems New Yorkers really like to post some food porn.
Today history is made, as January 1, 2017 marks the official public opening of the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway. The New York City transit endeavor has been in the works for nearly a century, and finally after countless delays and an eye-popping $4 billion bill, straphangers on the far Upper East Side will have access to three brand new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets.
Just before midnight yesterday evening, Governor Cuomo, MTA CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, city and state pols, members of President Obama’s Cabinet, local community members, and many of the workers who helped build the new line’s massive underground tunnels and stations, took the line’s inaugural ride.
Despite the fact that its impending shutdown dominated negative subway headlines this year, the L train is tied for one of the three best-performing lines, along with the 1 and 7. The worst? The A and E. The rankings come from the Straphangers Campaign’s 2016 State of the Subways Report Card (h/t Gothamist), which graded the system’s 20 lines based on six indicators from MTA transit data–service regularity, breakdown rate, crowding, cleanliness, and in-car announcements.
Who knew watching the movements of the New York City subway could be such a relaxing activity. A new data visualization created by Will Geary shows a day’s worth of subway routes in motion in one mesmerizing creation. To build the map, Geary used Processing and Carto software, as well as the framework of another tutorial from Juan Francisco Saldarriaga, pulling data from the MTA and Google Maps to determine the flux. And for some extra fun, the whole thing is set to “Rhapsody in Blue!”
Image Wiki Commons
There are countless relics from the subway’s past hidden beneath NYC, but one of the most intriguing will reveal itself again in just 9 days when the Second Avenue Subway (SAS) invites straphangers to swipe their Metro cards for the first time. As Quartz noticed this past summer, a peculiar loop cutting through Central Park appeared when the MTA released their new subway map touting the addition of the SAS. Reporter Mike Murphy immediately questioned the mysterious addition that would move the Q train further north without issue (“I felt like people would have noticed if the MTA had been ripping up Central Park to build a tunnel,” he wrote). After a bit of digging, he found out the half-mile stretch was built over 40 years ago and, at least according to archival maps, it’s only been used twice since then.
It was a tough year for straphangers—an impending L train closure, subway slashings and bug pranks gone wrong. But there were also bright spots, including the promise of new trains and buses, the return of the W line and the announcement of an on-time opening for the Second Avenue subway. Whatever your feelings about the MTA, the NYC subway is a way of life for the city’s millions of residents, and a reminder of that feeling could be the perfect gift for the transit enthusiast in your life.
Nearly 141 years ago, something quite momentous happened in New York history: the first subway line was opened to the public. The system was the invention of Alfred Ely Beach and his company Beach Pneumatic Transit Company. Beach put up $350,000 of his own money to build the first prototype and tunnel and his company managed to put it together, somewhat covertly, in just 58 days. The tunnel measured about 312 feet long, eight feet in diameter, and was completed in 1870.
If a sparkling new line isn’t cause enough to celebrate, once the Second Avenue Subway opens on January 1st, 2017, millions of New Yorkers will also be treated to several stretches of world-class art while navigating the 96th, 86th, 72nd, and 63rd Street stations. As the Times first reports, the MTA has poured $4.5 million into beautifying the stations with contemporary tile artworks by famed names Chuck Close, Sarah Sze, Vik Muniz, and Jean Shin.