Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Birthday NYC Subways!

On this day in 1904, the NYC subway system opened its first line.

It is now the nation's largest transit system (carrying more passengers than nearly all other transit systems in the nation combined, and that separates out the SI Railway which is part of the MTA and PATH, which runs service in and out of Manhattan).

The MTA subways are the 6th most used system in the world (Tokyo is first), but it has more stations and track miles than nearly every other system on that list.

Since that first line in 1904, the system has grown by leaps and bounds, but no new transit lines have been built in decades. That's changing with the construction of the 2d Avenue Subway, which is actually a long-overdue replacement of an elevated subway line that ran along much of 2d Avenue until it was torn down.

The 7 Line is getting a needed extension to the far West Side, and may eventually burrow across the Hudson River to join up with the Secaucus Transit hub and NJ Transit.

There's lots of other work to be done, but the complexity of the system and that it operates 24/7/365 means that work that other systems could carry out overnight has to be staggered in such a way that it increases the time to complete. Such is the benefit and cost of running such a massive system.

One can only hope that the local and state politicians do a better job of supporting mass transit and the subway system, which remains the heart that pumps the New York City economy.

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