Monday, December 26, 2011

1,2,3, A,C,E, N,Q,R, WTF!

Who said the subway in New York is a mess?

Seriously, once you have understood the basis such as:
- there is a specific downtown or uptown stairway
- you can have to wait a looong time out of the rush hours
- there are express and local trains
You are approximately ready to jump in this new adventure.
And if you are lost, you can always talk to people who will always be willing to help you.

Now that I feel like a fish in the sea whenever I take the subway, I have plenty of time to question myself. "Why does N,Q,R means?", "why this color for this line?" and so on and so on.
Don't you?

So after some days of research and inquiry in the darkest corridors of the subway (or maybe few intense minutes on the web, armed with my magnifiying glass, at least), here is the secret.

~roulement de tambour~

As usual, the main reason is historical. Back in the days, before the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) was created, the railways were owned by 3 different companies. First, the BMT (Brooklyn Manhattan Transit) created in the 30's then the IND (Independant System) and IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit).

Long story short, the numbers that we know today (1-2-3, 4-5-6, 7) comes from the IRT codifications. The "1" was the firstline to circulate, then the "2" and "3" were added as express on that same line. "4" and "5" were the second line created , "6" was added as the local on that same line. Finally "7" has appeared as the Queens IRT line.

Regarding the letters, they are a heritage of BMT and IND. The first line created by IND was the 8th avenue line : "A" (express),"C" (local). Same thing with the second line running on 6th Avenue with "B" (local), "D" (express).The "E" and "F" come from Queens, E runs on 8th Avenue and Fon 6th. The "G" train goes to Brooklyn and Queens.
In fact, BMT created the "B","J","M","N","Z" and "L". IND the rest.
The "J" is the Jamaica Avenue line on the BMT.
The "L" cuts Manhattan horizontally from Brooklyn to14th Street
The "M" connects with the "J" in Brooklyn and runs alongside for a part and has a skip stop service with the "Z" which runs rush hours.
The "N" runs into Astoria and through Manhattan and Brooklyn. The "Q" trains runs express in Manhattan along with the "N" and "R" (the "R" which runs local in Manhattan)

The newer letters are "V" and "W"...the "V" would be considered IND and the "W" would be considered BMT.

"S" stands for shuttles...the Grand Central/Times Square shuttle runs along the original 1904 subway line. There is another Shuttle next to JFK.

Anyway, today, everyone knows the MTA and that's it.

But, you can sometimes hear people who try to drop a BMT, IND par ci par là in the conversation. It is a romantic, nostalgic way of remembering those glorious day where the subway was the latest attraction, and also a way to remind you how they own New York deep in their heart.

For the curious, more details here:

Yeah, once again, you will be the one shining at your next dinner!

No comments:

Post a Comment