42nd Street Shuttle

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42nd Street Shuttle
S symbol
R62A 42 St Shuttle.jpg
42nd Street Shuttle train of three ad-wrapped R62A cars at Grand Central.
S map
Northern end Times Square
Southern end Grand Central
Stations 2
Rolling stock 10 R62As (3 trains)
Depot Livonia Yard
Started service August 1, 1918; 98 years ago (1918-08-01)
42nd Street Shuttle
Type Rapid transit
System New York City Subway
Status Operating
Locale Midtown Manhattan
Termini Times Square
Grand Central
Stations 2
Opened October 27, 1904
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Character Underground
Rolling stock R62A
Line length 0.44 miles (0.71 km)
Number of tracks 3 (formerly 4)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification 625V DC third rail

The 42nd Street Shuttle is a New York City Subway shuttle train service that operates in Manhattan. Part of a former Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) line, it is sometimes referred to as the Grand Central/Times Square Shuttle, since these are the only two stations served by the shuttle. It runs at all times except late nights, connecting Times Square to Grand Central under 42nd Street. It is the shortest regular service in the system, running about 2,700 feet (820 m) in under two minutes.[1]

The 42nd Street Shuttle is part of the A Division of New York City Transit, and the tracks that it uses opened in 1904 as part of the first subway in the city. In order to distinguish it from the other shuttles in the system, NYCT Rapid Transit Operations internally refers to it as the 0 (zero). Its route bullet is colored dark slate gray on route signs, station signs, and rolling stock with the letter "S" on the official subway map.



The subway through which the shuttle runs was opened on October 27, 1904, the first day of subway service in Manhattan.[2][3] In 1910, the platforms at the two stations were extended.[4] A plan called the Dual System of Rapid Transit in 1913 was worked out with the Interborough Rapid Transit and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit companies, and was announced by the Public Service Commission. As part of the plan, the existing IRT subway would be reconfigured into what was called the "H system". From 42nd Street, new lines would be built northward in Lexington Avenue and southward in Seventh Avenue, connecting with the old subway to form East Side and West Side main lines. The leftover segment under 42nd Street was to be used for a shuttle connecting the two main lines.[4]

The new Lexington Avenue route curved off of the old line at 41st Street and ran under private property to reach Lexington Avenue at 43rd Street with the new Grand Central station in the diagonal segment. 400 feet was left between the end of the old station and the new station, and therefore a new station was to be built for the shuttle, ending close to the new station on the Lexington Avenue Line. Trackways were built continuing east under 42nd Street to bring the two tracks into the new station, which was a narrow island island platform between the two tracks. It was expected that two tracks would be more than adequate for the shuttle. On August 1, 1918, the Dual Contracts' "H system" was put into service, with through trains over the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line, and only shuttle trains under 42nd Street. The station was not ready in time, and therefore temporary wooden flooring was laid over part of the trackways at Times Square and Grand Central.[5] The shuttle was heavily used, and the crowding conditions were so bad that the shuttle was ordered closed the next day by the Public Service Commission.[6]

The new, unused trackways of the planned station were covered with flooring and turned into a passageway between the Shuttle and Lexington Avenue stations. The shuttle reopened on September 28, 1918, with improved passageways and platforms.[4][7] Track 2 at the Grand Central station was covered over by a wooden platform.[8] On the walls of the stations, black bands (at Times Square) and green bands (at Grand Central) were painted to guide passengers to the shuttle platforms.[9] The shuttle was meant to be "temporary,"[3] and by 1920, a year later, Transit Commission member Daniel Turner proposed that the shuttle be replaced by a moving sidewalk.

Throughout the history of the shuttle there have been proposals to extend and improve the line both to the east and to the west. However, it is not feasible to extend the line in either direction, as the line is at the same level as the tracks of the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line and those of the Lexington Avenue Line.[10] While most were not taken seriously, a November 1954 plan by a chairman of the Board of Transportation, Sidney H. Bingham, was closer to implementation. He proposed that the shuttled be replaced by a conveyor‐belt system to move small, 12‐passenger cars continuously between the two stations.[11] In November 1954, a $3,881,000 contract for a modified version of the plan was awarded. The New York Times lauded the plan, stating that "the Times Square-Grand Central subway shuttle was an atrocity from the beginning and has had no substantial improvement in a third of a century."[12] However, the plan was canceled less than a year later because of its high cost.[3][13]

Automation test[edit]

As part of a demonstration for automation, Track 4 was briefly automated from 1962[14] to 1964.[15] Starting in December 1959,[16] the fully automatic train was tested on the BMT Sea Beach Line express tracks between the 18th Avenue and New Utrecht Avenue stations. The train was equipped with a telephone system to keep voice communication with human dispatchers at the two shuttle terminals. At each station there was a cabinet that housed 24 relay systems that made up electronic dispatchers. The relays controlled the starting of the train, the acceleration, braking, and stopping of the train, as well as the opening and closing of the car doors. The relays were operated by electrical impulses initiated by a punched tape. When operating at full speed, the train operated at 30 miles per hour, and the train slowed to 5.5 miles per hour when coming into the two stations. When entering stations, the train passed through a series of detectors, which caused a series of tripper arms at trackside to go into the open position if the train was going at the speed. If the train was going too quickly, the tripper arms would stay upright and the train's brakes would automatically be set.[17] The equipment was built and installed by the General Railway Signal Company and the Union Switch and Signal division of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, after several years of research and development. The NYCTA contributed between $20,000 to $30,000 on the project, while the bulk of it, between $250,000 and $300,000, was contributed by the two companies. The automation of the shuttle was opposed by the president of the Transport Workers Union, Michael J. Quill, who pledged to fight the project and called the device "insane."[18]

On February 29, 1960, the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) began to test a new tie-less roadbed on Track 1, which had been installed since the previous Thursday. The experiment was intended to produce a smoother and more comfortable ride for commuters, in addition to lessening the effect of moisture and erosion. It was planned that if the test succeeded, the rest of the tracks in the subway system would be retrofitted in such a manner. The set-up included two parallel strips of concrete that would serve as the roadbed. Between them, flat-bottomed steel troughs were installed, cushioned by rubber. Inside the troughs, there were rubber tie plates spaced apart with flaps that encase the rail bottom. The rails were kept in place by lug bolts that were anchored in concrete. The third rail was also mounted on concrete. This differed from the normal roadbeds, which consisted of stone, with wooden ties set into it. The ties, under damp conditions, would rot and the spikes would become loose, resulting in bumpy rides. This test replicates similar roadbeds in Toronto's subway system. In order to construct the new roadbed, Track 1 had to be closed.[19] From May 6 to June 5, 1961, Track 4 was closed for the installation of the same roadbed as was tested on Track 1.[20]

In the afternoon of January 4, 1962,[21] the three-car automated train began service, with a ceremony.[14] The trains carried a stand-by motorman during the six-month trial period. The train had scheduled to begin service on December 15, 1961, but Quill threatened to strike all city- and private-owned transit in the city if the train ran.[22] Under the new contract with the TWU, the NYCTA agreed to put a motorman in the train during the experimental period.[23] While in its experimental period, the automated train was only operating during rush hours.[24] In July, the test was extended for three more months, and in October the test was extended for six additional months.[25] The chairman of the NYCTA, Charles Patterson, was disappointed by the automated shuttle train, doubting that the train could be operated without any transit personnel on board. Initially, the automation of the shuttle was expected to save $150,000 a year in labor costs; however, with one employee still required on the train, there would essentially be no savings.[26] If the test succeeded, it was planned to automate the IRT Flushing Line, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, and the Culver Shuttle. However, the NYCTA did not have plans to automate the whole system.[27]

A severe fire at the Grand Central station on April 21, 1964, destroyed the demonstration train and manual operation had been restored since.[3][15][28] The fire began under a shuttle train on track 3, and it became larger, feeding on the wooden platform. The train on Track 1 was saved when the motorman saw smoke, and reversed the train. The basements of nearby buildings were damaged.[8] Tracks 1 and 4 returned to service on April 23, 1964,[29] while Track 3 returned to service on June 1, 1964.[30] The reinstallation of Track 3 was delayed because of the need to replace 60 beams that were damaged in the fire.[31] Initially, a decision was not made concerning whether or not the automated shuttle train should be reintroduced.[32]

From September 19, 1966 to April 1967, service on the shuttle was limited in order to allow for the reconstruction of parts of the line. The entire project cost $419,000 and included the construction of a new mezzanine at Grand Central and the replacement of the wooden platform at Times Square with a new 300-foot concrete one.[33]

Recent history[edit]

On October 3, 1987, ten R62As made their debut on the line, and thus started the replacement of the R17s that provided the shuttle's service.[34]

The shuttle ran at all times until September 10, 1995, when night service was discontinued, meaning that late-night passengers must use the 7 train.[35][36] This was just a part of the largest series of cuts in subway and bus service in two decades. In February 1995, Governor George Pataki raided an MTA surplus fund and proposed cutting state aid to the agency by $128 million a year, and President Bill Clinton proposed a $26 million cut in Federal subsidies. Rather than an expected $160 million surplus in 1995, New York City Transit was left with a projected deficit that could reach $172 million. Governor Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani pressured the MTA to avoid a fare increase, and reducing spending would accomplish this.[37]

When the shuttle is closed, the area is sometimes used for movie and TV filming. The French Connection and King of New York, among many other titles, were filmed on the 42nd Street Shuttle.

As part of the 2015–2019 MTA Capital Program, the 42nd Street Shuttle will become ADA accessible, and the shuttle will be reconfigured from three tracks to two tracks, and the trains will become six cars long. The whole project will cost $235.41 million. The platforms at Times Square will be extended to allow for a second point of entry at Sixth Avenue, with a connection to the IND Sixth Avenue Line. The Times Square station will be rehabilitated with congestion mitigation measures. A wider stairway would be installed from the shuttle mezzanine to street level, a new control area would be installed at the bottom of the stairway, and 21 columns would be removed. The cost of this part of the project is $28.93 million.[38] Also included in the Capital Program is funding for a study that would develop the requirements for a second program to automate of the shuttle.[39]

Track layout[edit]

Track layout
to 50 St
Movable pedestrian bridge
over Track 4
Times Square
End of former track 2
Grand Central
to 33 St

Of the four shuttle tracks, only three are in use, with the former southbound express track space being used for platform space at each terminal. The former southbound local track is now Shuttle Track 1. Track 2 no longer exists, but the trackbed of Track 2 can be seen inside the tunnel from passing trains on Tracks 1 and 3. At the two terminals, the trackway for Track 2 is occupied by platforms that provide access to Track 3, which was the former northbound express track is Track 3. The former northbound local track is Track 4.[40]

Track 2 was removed between the two stations in 1975.[41]

Tracks 1 and 3 are connected to each other and to the IRT Lexington Avenue Line's southbound local track south of Grand Central station. Track 4 connects to the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line's northbound local track north of Times Square station. There is no connection between the two tracks that connect to the Lexington Avenue Line, Tracks 1 and 3, and the track that connects to the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line, Track 4; therefore, it is now physically impossible for a train to go from the IRT Lexington Avenue Line through to the IRT Seventh Avenue Line or vice versa by using the shuttle tracks.[40] At the Times Square station, to provide a connection between the platform for Track 4 and the rest of the station complex, there is a pedestrian bridge over Track 4. The pedestrian bridge is temporary removed to allow the train on Track 4 to leave for maintenance.[42]

As part of the 2015–2019 Capital Program plan, the connection to the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line would probably be removed with the elimination of Track 4.[38][40]


Service Time period Section of line
All except nights Late nights
42nd Street Shuttle service service no service entire line
42nd Street Shuttle
IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line
Times Square
IND Sixth Avenue Line
Grand Central
IRT Lexington Avenue Line

In service, each of the shuttle tracks in operation at any given time is independent of the other; e.g., the train on track 1 simply runs back and forth on track 1, and there is no switching involved in reversing at each terminal. To provide for quick turnaround of the shuttle trains, there is an operator at each end of the train. Depending on which direction the train is traveling the operators swap jobs when the train gets to one end; one acts as the operator in the front and the other acts as conductor in the rear.[43]

It is common for shuttle trains to be adorned with excessive advertising. Since 2008, the MTA has tested full-train advertisements on 42nd Street Shuttle rolling stock.[44][45] While most advertisements are well received, a few advertisements—such as one for the TV show The Man in the High Castle, which featured a Nazi flag—have been controversial.[46]


Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Stops all times except late nights Stops all times except late nights
Stops weekdays only Stops weekdays only
Stops rush hours in peak direction only Stops weekdays in the peak direction only
Time period details
42nd Street Shuttle service Stations Handicapped/disabled access Subway transfers Connections
42nd Street Line
Stops all times except late nights Times Square 1 all times 2 all times 3 all times (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
7 all times <7>rush hours until 9:30 p.m., peak direction (IRT Flushing Line)
N all times Q all times R all except late nights W weekdays only (BMT Broadway Line)
A all times C all except late nights E all times (IND Eighth Avenue Line at 42nd Street–Port Authority Bus Terminal)
Port Authority Bus Terminal
Stops all times except late nights Grand Central Elevator access to platform level; shuttle not accessible 4 all times 5 all except late nights 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
7 all times <7>rush hours until 9:30 p.m., peak direction (IRT Flushing Line)
Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Terminal


  1. ^ "S Subway Timetable Between Grand Central Station and Times Square, Manhattan, Effective November 7, 2016" (PDF). New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Our Subway Open, 150,000 Try It — Mayor McClellan Runs the First Official Train — Big Crowds Ride At Night — Average of 25,000 an Hour from 7 P.M. Till Past Midnight — Exercises in the City Hall — William Barclay Parsons, John B. McDonald, August Belmont, Alexander E. Orr, and John Starin Speak — Dinner at Night". New York Times. October 28, 1904. p. 1. Retrieved November 6, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d Stengren, Bernard (April 22, 1964). "SHUTTLE IS SHORT, EXCEPT IN HISTORY". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  4. ^ a b c Brennan, Joseph. "Abandoned Stations : proposed Grand Central shuttle platform". Abandoned Stations. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Open New Subway Lines to Traffic; Called a Triumph". The New York Times. August 2, 1918. p. 1. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Drop Shuttle Plan as Subway Crush Becomes a Peril". The New York Times. August 3, 1918. p. 1. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Shuttle Service In Operation". pudl.princeton.edu. Interborough Rapid Transit Company. September 27, 1918. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Buckley, Thomas (April 22, 1964). "Pavement in 42d Street at Grand Central Is Weakened by Early‐Morning Fire in the IRT Shuttle Station". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2016 – via New York Times Archive. 
  9. ^ "Subway Shuttle Resumes Today". The New York Times. September 28, 1918. p. 17. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Cost of Extending Shuttle Line". The New York Times. November 17, 1966. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  11. ^ "TRANSPORTATION: Subway of the Future". TIME. 1954-11-15. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  12. ^ "CROSSTOWN BY CONVEYOR BELT". The New York Times. 1952-08-08. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  13. ^ Levey, Stanley (1955-10-21). "Times Sq. Shuttle Keeps Trains; Belt Plan Dropped as Too Costly; TIMES SQ. SHUTTLE WON'T GET A BELT". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  14. ^ a b Katz, Ralph (January 5, 1962). "First Automated Subway Train Starts Run; Shuttle Riders Find Trip Without Crew About the Same STRIKE ENDED ONE-YEAR PACT All 3 Will Benefit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  15. ^ a b "Subway Fire Jams N. Y. Traffic (April 22, 1964)". Chicago Tribune. 1964-04-22. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  16. ^ "CREWLESS SUBWAY TESTED IN BROOKLYN". The New York Times. February 16, 1960. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  17. ^ Stengren, Bernard (December 13, 1961). "Disputed Automated Train Put Through Test; Electrical Impulses Start, Monitor and Stop Shuttle Runs AUTOMATED TRAIN PUT THROUGH TEST". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  18. ^ Katz, Ralph (October 14, 1960). "Automatic Subway Train Tested For Times Sq. Shuttle Service". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archives. 
  19. ^ Levey, Stanley (February 28, 1960). "SUBWAYS TO TEST TIELESS ROADBED; Installation Also Is Without Spikes -- Economy and Smooth Riding Seen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  20. ^ "SHUTTLE TO CLOSE TRACK TOMORROW; Unmanned, Automatic Train Is Due Later in Year". The New York Times. May 6, 1961. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  21. ^ "Automatic Shuttle Has Lost Novelty For New Yorkers". The New York Times. April 4, 1962. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  22. ^ "T.W.U. Will Hold Strike Vote In Protest of Automated Train". The New York Times. December 11, 1961. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  23. ^ Katz, Ralph (January 4, 1962). "SHUTTLE TO BEGIN AUTOMATED RUNS; Public Tests Start Today With Stand-By Motorman Pledge on Manning". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  24. ^ "A Better Shuttle". The New York Times. January 6, 1962. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  25. ^ "AUTOMATED TRAIN GIVEN EXTENSION; IRT's Shuttle Will Continue Running Until July 1". The New York Times. October 28, 1962. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  26. ^ Stengren, Bernard (September 19, 1962). "AUTOMATED TRAIN DISAPPOINTS CITY; Patterson Says High Hopes for Subway Device Have Been Diminished RESEARCH IS EXTENDED IRT Shuttle to Be Tested for Nine Months More-- Some Savings Seen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  27. ^ Levey, Stanley (October 25, 1961). "CREWLESS TRAINS TO FAIR STUDIED; 3 Lines May Be Automated if Shuttle Test Succeeds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  28. ^ "www.nycsubway.org: IRT Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle". Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  29. ^ Trumbull, Robert (April 24, 1964). "Shuttle Nearly Back to Normal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  30. ^ Cunningham, Joseph; DeHart, Leonard O. (January 1, 1993). A History of the New York City Subway System. J. Schmidt, R. Giglio, and K. Lang. 
  31. ^ "REOPENING PUT OFF ON ONE 42D ST. BLOCK". The New York Times. April 25, 1964. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  32. ^ "Midtown Subway Shuttle Is Now Back to Normal". The New York Times. June 2, 1964. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  33. ^ "Reconstruction Cuts Shuttle Service in Subway; 8-Month Project Curtailing Daily Travel of 24,400-- Job Will Cost $419,000". The New York Times. October 9, 1966. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  34. ^ Levine, Richard (October 3, 1987). "42d Street Shuttle: Cars for Reviled Line". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  35. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (September 11, 1995). "A Subway Station Is Shuttered, the First in 33 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2011.  [the article is about Dean Street on the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, and the headline refers to the 1962 closing of Worth Street; several old-style elevated railways were closed since then, as well as the Culver Shuttle which hosted both elevated and subway service at one time]
  36. ^ "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: NEW YORK UP CLOSE; Coming Transit Reductions: What They Mean for You". The New York Times. August 20, 1995. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  37. ^ Perez-pena, Richard (February 25, 1995). "BOARD VOTES CUTS FOR CITY TRANSIT". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  38. ^ a b "METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (MTA) NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING AND DESCRIPTION OF PROJECTS Tuesday, August 23, 2016 4:30 P.M. Request for Federal Financial Assistance Under the Federal Transportation Authorization For Federal Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Improvement Projects" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 28, 2016. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Capital Program Dashboard". mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  40. ^ a b c Marrero, Robert (2017-01-01). "472 Stations, 850 Miles" (PDF). B24 Blog, via Dropbox. Retrieved 2015-10-09. 
  41. ^ Linder, Bernard (January 1990). "Streetcars and Spatial Analysis: Lexington Avenue Line: North and South Sections, as of 1990". Electric Railroaders' Association. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  42. ^ "www.nycsubway.org: IRT Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle". nycsubway.org. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  43. ^ Schumach, Murray (August 19, 1970). "Times Sq. Shuttle Is Trip to Pandemonium". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via New York Times Archive. 
  44. ^ "Untapped Mailbag: Advertising Takeovers on the Shuttle to Times Square". Untapped Cities. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  45. ^ Lee, Jennifer (October 2, 2008). "A 'Full Body Wrap' for Times Sq. Shuttle". New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Amazon pulls ads for Nazi-themed TV show from N.Y. subway". Retrieved May 2, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata