Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation

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BMT
Operation
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Depot(s) Coney Island Yard, East New York Yard
Rolling stock R32, R42, R46, R68, R68A, R143, R160
Technical
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
A 1914 map showing what was at the time the proposed expansion for the BRT. The only major differences from what was built is that a new 60th Street Tunnel was used rather than the Queensboro Bridge, the Manhattan-side Brooklyn Bridge connection was never built, and several lines ended up with fewer tracks than shown.
New York streetcar network (interactive map)
The Coney Island station entrance

The Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) was an urban transit holding company, based in Brooklyn, New York City, United States, and incorporated in 1923. The system was sold to the city in 1940. Today, together with the IND subway system, it forms the B Division of the modern New York City Subway. The original BMT routes form the J, L, M, N, Q, and R trains, as well as the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, with the ex-IND B, D, and F using BMT trackage in Brooklyn, as does a short section of the A in Queens. The M train enters the IND via the Chrystie Street Connection after crossing the Williamsburg Bridge, and the R train enters the IND via the 60th Street Tunnel Connection. The Z train supplements the J in the peak direction during rush hours only.

History[edit]

Company years[edit]

The Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation took over the assets of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company in 1923 following the previous company's bankruptcy. Like its predecessor it controlled subsidiaries which operated the great majority of the rapid transit and streetcar lines in Brooklyn with extensions into Queens and Manhattan. One of these, New York Rapid Transit Corporation operated the elevated and subway lines.

Their president, Gerhard Melvin Dahl, immediately published a document, "Transit Truths" to explain the issues the company faced. In it he complained that the company had "met with the bitter, personal and unfair opposition of Mayor Hylan." In a separate letter to Hylan he said: "For seven years, you have been misleading and fooling the people in this community… For seven years, you have blocked every effort at transit relief. You, and only you, are to blame for the present…deplorable condition of the whole transit situation. You have used the transit situation as a political escalator".[1]

The BMT was pressed[when?] by the City administration of Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia to sell its operations to the City, which wanted to have all subway and elevated lines municipally owned and operated. The City had two powerful incentives to coerce the sale:

  • the BMT was forced by provisions of the Dual Contracts to charge no more than a five-cent fare, an amount set in 1913, before the inflation of World War I.
  • the City had the right of “recapture” of those lines that had been built or improved with City participation under those Dual Contracts. This meant that, if the City forced the issue, the BMT could have been left with a fragmented system and City competition in many of its market areas.

The BMT sold all of its transit operations to the City on June 1, 1940.

Afterward[edit]

After World War II the city-built IND subway took over parts of the former BMT, starting in 1954 with the extension of the D train from its terminal at Church Avenue via a new connection with the former BMT Culver line at Ditmas Avenue. From 1954 the three remaining Culver stations between Ninth Avenue and Ditmas Avenue were used by the Culver Shuttle. The service was discontinued in 1975 because of budget cuts and was later demolished.

The 60th Street Tunnel Connection between the IND Queens Boulevard Line and BMT Broadway Line opened in December, 1955. This new route was used by the BMT Brighton local, which formerly ran to Astoria, for service to Forest Hills along with the IND GG local. The next year saw the new extension of the IND Fulton Street Line (A train) in Brooklyn connected to the rebuilt section of the former BMT Fulton Street elevated at 80th Street in Queens in April, 1956. The portion of the BMT Fulton Street El running west of 80th Street to Rockaway Avenue was demolished.[when?]

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw the biggest project of that era with the building of the Chrystie Street Connection, and the IND Sixth Ave express tracks. This project connected the IND Sixth Avenue services to the BMT services that ran over the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. Express services were directly connected to the Manhattan Bridge, and local services could use either the Williamsburg Bridge or the existing Rutgers Street Tunnel. Both connections opened in November 1967 and created the largest re-routing of train services in the history of the NYCTA. The BMT West End and Brighton Lines became served by IND services exclusively as a result.

Between 1967 and 1976, some IND Sixth Avenue trains called KK and later K, used the connection to the BMT Jamaica Line over the Williamsburg Bridge. That connection was discontinued due to budget cuts in 1976.

In 1988, the BMT Archer Avenue Line was opened, connecting to what was then the east end of the BMT Jamaica Line. Two stations—Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport and Jamaica Center – Parsons/Archer—were added.

In June 2010, as a result of more budget cuts, the MTA reactivated the Williamsburg Bridge connection for M service.

Operation[edit]

The BMT operated rapid transit (subway and elevated lines) through the New York Rapid Transit Corporation and surface transit (streetcars and buses) through the Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation.

The BMT was a national leader in the transit industry, and was a proponent of advanced urban railways, participating in development of advanced streetcar designs, including the PCC car, whose design and advanced components influenced railcar design worldwide for decades. The company also sought to extend the art of rapid transit car design with such innovations as articulated (multi-jointed-body) cars, lightweight equipment, advanced control systems, and shared components with streetcar fleets. The BMT was also the original proponent of the all-four concept of integrated urban transit.

Unlike the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), the other private operator of subways in New York City, the BMT remained solvent throughout the Great Depression and showed a profit, albeit small in its last year, until the very end of its transit operations.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Paving the Way for Buses– The Great GM Streetcar Conspiracy Part I, the villans". "Any appeal to Mayor Hylan was rebuffed. Bankruptcy and receivership didn’t help. In 1923, Gerhard Dahl, president of the reorganized B.M.T., published "Transit Truths" to gain some public sympathy. Dahl’s words serve to highlight the relationship between transit and Hylan: " … the B.M.T. has met with the bitter, personal and unfair opposition of Mayor Hylan." And from a letter to Hylan: "For seven years, you have been misleading and fooling the people in this community… For seven years, you have blocked every effort at transit relief. You, and only you, are to blame for the present…deplorable condition of the whole transit situation. You have used the transit situation as a political escalator. You have been willing to sacrifice the comfort, the convenience and even the necessities of the people of this community to your selfish political interests. You are persisting in that course." Unfortunately, this broadside changed nothing" 

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Maps[edit]