The New York City Subway System opened on October 27, 1904, with 28 stations in Manhattan. There are now 468 stations, most of which were built by 1930. There are now stations in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn. Staten Island’s subway system, the Staten Island Railway, is not contiguous with the New York City’s main subway system, although it is also maintained by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
New York City ties with Mexico City as having the fourth largest subway ridership in the world, surpassed only by Moscow, Tokyo and Seoul. The New York City subway system carries about 4.5 million passengers on an average weekday, about 1.4 billion passengers a year. There are 27 interconnected subway lines.
There are about 660 miles of track in passenger service. Counting track used for nonrevenue purposes, such as in subway yards, there are more than 840 miles. New York City Subway tracks laid end to end would stretch from New York City to Chicago. The longest train line is the A train, which runs from 207th Street in Manhattan to Far Rockaway in Queens, a distance of over 31 miles. The Subway uses enough power annually to light the city of Buffalo for a year.
Although the term “subway” implies an underground system, in fact, only about 60 percent of New York City subway stations are underground. The rest are elevated, embankments, or open-cut. An open-cut station is built below street level, in a trench-like depression. Most open-cut stations are exposed to the outdoors, unlike stations built in tunnels. The highest station is Smith and 9th Streets in Brooklyn, 88 feet above street level. The lowest is 191st Street in Manhattan, 180 feet below street level. Over the past 20 years, NYC Transit has rehabilitated or upgraded almost half the stations in the system. MTA Arts for Transit has commissioned and installed artwork in dozens of stations since 1985.
The subway fare is currently $2, regardless of how long your ride is, or how many times you change trains. The fare can be paid with a Metrocard. There are two types of Metrocards: Pay-Per-Ride and Unlimited Ride. With a Pay- Per Ride card, you can buy as many rides as you want from $4 to $80. If you put $10 or more on your card, you receive a 20 percent bonus. For example, a $20 purchase gives you $24 on your card: 12 trips for the price of 10. You get an automatic free transfer between subway and bus, or between buses. An Unlimited Ride Metrocard enables you to take an unlimited number of subway and bus rides for a fixed price within a specific time period. You can choose a 1-Day Fun Pass for $7, a 7-day card for $24, or a 30-day card for $76. Senior citizens and people with disabilities are eligible for reduced fares.
In general, trains run every 2 to 5 minutes during rush hours, every 10 to 15 minutes during the day and about every 20 minutes between midnight and 5 AM.