Howard Beach–JFK Airport (IND Rockaway Line)

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Howard Beach–JFK Airport 20 airtransportation inv.svg
"A" train
New York City Subway rapid transit and AirTrain JFK people mover station complex
NYCS IND Rockaway HowardBeach night.jpg
Subway platforms at night
Station statistics
Address 159th Avenue & 103rd Street
Queens, NY 11414
Borough Queens
Locale Howard Beach
Coordinates 40°39′38″N 73°49′49″W / 40.660445°N 73.830316°W / 40.660445; -73.830316Coordinates: 40°39′38″N 73°49′49″W / 40.660445°N 73.830316°W / 40.660445; -73.830316
Division B (IND, formerly LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch)
Line IND Rockaway Line
Airport transportation AirTrain JFK
Services       A all times (all times)
Transit connections Bus transport MTA Bus: Q11
Structure At-grade (subway station)
Elevated (AirTrain JFK station)
Platforms 2 side platforms (subway station)
1 island platform (AirTrain JFK station)
Tracks 4 (2 in regular service) (subway station)
2 (AirTrain JFK station)
Other information
Opened April 1913; 104 years ago (1913-04) (LIRR station)[1]
December 17, 2003; 13 years ago (2003-12-17) (AirTrain JFK)
Rebuilt June 28, 1956; 60 years ago (1956-06-28) (subway station)
December 17, 2003; 13 years ago (2003-12-17) (connection to AirTrain JFK)
Accessible This station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ADA-accessible
Passengers (2016) 1,012,067 (subway station only)[2]Decrease 2.9%
Rank 63 out of 422
Station succession
Next north Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue: A all times
Next south Broad Channel: A all times

Next adjacent station compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 north Aqueduct Racetrack: A all times
Next adjacent station compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 south Far Rockaway–Mott Avenue (via Rockaway): A all times
Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street (via Rockaway Park): A rush hours, peak direction (also via same-platform transfer at Broad Channel)

Howard Beach–JFK Airport is a subway/people mover station complex located at Coleman Square between 159th Avenue and 103rd Street in Howard Beach, Queens. The New York City Subway portion of the station is on the IND Rockaway Line and is served by the Rockaway branch of the A train at all times. The AirTrain JFK portion of the station complex is served by the AirTrain's Howard Beach branch at all times.

The station was originally a Long Island Rail Road station along the Rockaway Beach Branch. The LIRR station opened in 1913 to replace the nearby Ramblersville station. The LIRR ceased operations at this station in 1950, and the New York City Transit Authority bought the section of the Rockaway Beach Branch that included this station. The subway station opened on June 28, 1956. In 2000–2003, the subway station was completely rebuilt and a transfer to the new AirTrain JFK was built. The rebuilt station was completed on December 17, 2003.


The station originally opened in April 1913 as a Long Island Rail Road station, which replaced the former 1899-built Ramblersville station that was built 0.2 miles (0.32 km) to the south.[3] In 1923, the station was retrofitted with sheltered sheds on both sides of the tracks. On May 8, 1950 a fire that broke out between The Raunt and Broad Channel stations destroyed the bridge over Jamaica Bay,[4] and the line was acquired by the New York City Transit Authority.[5]

Station entrance

On June 27, 1955, this station, along with all the rest of the Rockaway Beach Branch stations that were south of the now defunct Ozone Park station, was taken out of service due to an eight-month restructuring and upgrading of the train tracks, so that these tracks could accurately comply with the New York City Transit standards to rapidly transport the subway trains. During the project, the Howard Beach station (along with the Broad Channel and Far Rockaway stations) was completely rebuilt, utilizing a modern design, and building a new overhead passageway between the two platforms. Many of the parts for the station were prefabricated, speeding construction.[6][7][8] On June 28, 1956, the Howard Beach station was reopened as a subway station along with the rest of the line, with the previous Long Island Rail Road station at this location having been razed. Inauguration ceremonies were held at the station as well as at Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn.[5][6][9][10][11]

The JFK Express, which provided a link to John F. Kennedy International Airport to the east from Manhattan, terminated at this station from 1978 to 1990, which included free shuttle bus service to the airport. The bus service, which continued after JFK Express service ended, was the only link between the airport and the Howard Beach station at the time.[12][13][14][15]

The station was extensively renovated in the early 2000s, undergoing a $50 million overhaul to connect the subway station to the new AirTrain JFK. The project was designed by STV Group and financed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.[14][16][17] During the rebuilding of the station, the original subway platforms were demolished and temporary platforms were erected in the center trackways while the new platforms and mezzanine were built, while trains utilized a single track during off-peak hours.[18][19][20] The AirTrain structure around the station was completed in 2001,[21] and the AirTrain station opened on December 17, 2003, at which time the shuttle bus was discontinued.[14][17] The transfer was popular, with 4 million people transferring between the subway and the AirTrain from 2003 to 2007.[22]

Due to extensive damage to the IND Rockaway Line by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, this was the southern terminal for A trains that normally traveled to the Rockaways while the line south of the station was being repaired. Full service to the Rockaways was restored on May 30, 2013.[23][24]

Station layout[edit]

AirTrain JFK level
Track 2 Howard Beach Branch toward Terminal 8 (Lefferts Boulevard)
Island platform with PSDs, doors will open on the left, right Handicapped/disabled access
Track 1 Howard Beach Branch toward Terminal 8 (Lefferts Boulevard)
Mezzanine Fare control and overpass; transfer between subway and AirTrain
Handicapped/disabled access (Elevators at Coleman Square and 159th Avenue)
Ground level
Side platform, doors will open on the right Handicapped/disabled access
Northbound local "A" train toward Inwood–207th Street (Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue)
Northbound express No regular service
Southbound express Trackbed
Southbound local "A" train toward Far Rockaway ("A" express train toward Rockaway Park PM rush hours) (Broad Channel)
Side platform, doors will open on the right Handicapped/disabled access
Street level station house Exit/ Entrance
Handicapped/disabled access (Elevators at Coleman Square and 159th Avenue)
View of subway platforms, with the transfer building above the platforms

The station's mezzanine is located in a modern, temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed building above the subway platforms and tracks,[15][16] measuring 90 feet (27 m) across,[12] with a large stainless steel sign on either side reading "Howard Beach JFK." The mezzanine building contains a small token booth and three turnstile banks between the subway, the AirTrain JFK, and the unpaid area.[15][16]


The exit from the complex to the Howard Beach neighborhood is on the west side, with a twisting staircase and two elevators going down to the east side of 103rd Street/Coleman Square by the T-intersection with 159th Avenue.[25][26] A connecting bridge on the east side of the station leads into the Airtrain JFK station.[15]

New York City Subway platforms[edit]

Track layout
to N Conduit Av
to Broad Channel

The grade-level New York City Subway station has two side platforms and four tracks with the two center express tracks not used in revenue service. The southbound express track has been severed and has permanently been removed from service, while the northbound express track is unused in regular service. South of the station, there are switches and crossovers between all four tracks before the two outer tracks merge with the center ones.[27] The two-track line then crosses Jamaica Bay to Broad Channel, which is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the south. The crossing is the longest stretch of line between two consecutive stations in the system.[28]

Both platforms have concrete windscreens on either end and steel canopies at the portions underneath the center station building. The platforms are offset, with the southbound platform extending slightly to the north, and the northbound platform extending slightly further south. An elevator and a set of staircases and escalators from each subway platform go up to the shared fare control.[15]

The Rockaway-bound platform has two High Entry/Exit Turnstiles and one exit-only turnstile leading to a short staircase that goes down to the intersection of 159th Road and 103rd Street. The Brooklyn-bound platform has a set of emergency doors leading to the parking lot just north of the AirTrain JFK station; they are normally locked, but were in use from December 2012 to May 2013 as a connection to a temporary shuttle bus service instituted after Hurricane Sandy. Both platforms have stairs, escalators, and an elevator to the headhouse above the platforms.[29]

Prior to the 2000s renovations, the design of the station and overpass resembled that of the Broad Channel station.[7][8][30][31]

AirTrain JFK platform[edit]

Track layout
to Lefferts Boulevard
Building for AirTrain platforms

The AirTrain JFK portion of this station has two tracks and one island platform on the upper level of the station complex. The eastern end of the AirTrain platform leads to Parking Area C.[32] Unlike the New York City Subway platforms, the AirTrain JFK platforms are entirely enclosed and feature platform screen doors, which help the station maintain a constant temperature and prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks. An array of sensors detect a train's position on the track, and only when it is properly aligned will the train's doors open. This enables the AirTrain to use automatic train operation without drivers.[17][32]

The platform measures approximately 240 feet (73 m).[17][32] The next stop to the southeast is Lefferts Boulevard.[32] Since it is owned by the Port Authority, it uses a separate fare control from the subway.[29] Passengers must pay their fare when either entering or leaving the station, as this station and Jamaica are the only stations where fares are collected. MetroCard vending machines are located on both sides of fare control.[33][34]


  1. ^ LIRR station history Archived 2011-01-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2011–2016". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 31, 2017. Retrieved June 1, 2017. 
  3. ^ Huneke, Arthur John (2005). "ONE HUNDRED YEARS THE LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD 1905 - ELECTRIFICATION - 2005". LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD HISTORY, Online Museum of Long Island Rail Road and Photo Gallery. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  4. ^ "L.I.R.R. Propses Junking Trestle Ruined by Fire". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 31, 1950. p. 4. Retrieved 22 September 2015 – via 
  5. ^ a b Freeman, Ira Henry (June 28, 1956). "Rockaway Trains to Operate Today". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "First Train On Rockaway Line Runs This Afternoon" (PDF). Wave of Long Island. June 28, 1956. p. 6. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "New Look In Transit: Modernistic Station And Drawbridge" (PDF). Wave of Long Island. December 2, 1954. p. 1. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "New Station Set At Howard Beach". The New York Times. November 11, 1954. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "First Train On Rockaway Line Runs This Afternoon" (PDF). Wave of Long Island. June 28, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "TA's New Line To Rockaways Begins Today: Fifty Piece Band To Play as Special Train Makes First Run" (PDF). The Leader-Observer. June 28, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  11. ^ "To Rockaways: Beach Trains In Operation" (PDF). Greenpoint Weekly Star. June 29, 1956. p. 2. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "New "JFK Express" Service Begun in Howard Beach" (PDF). New York Leader Observer. September 28, 1978. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  13. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (November 25, 2009). "If You Took the Train to the Plane, Sing the Jingle". Retrieved 2016-07-03. 
  14. ^ a b c Gosling, Geoffrey D.; Freeman, Dennis (May 2012). "CASE STUDY REPORT: JOHN F. KENNEDY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIRTRAIN" (PDF). Mineta Transportation Institute, San Jose State University. 
  15. ^ a b c d e "Project Profile; USA; New York Airtrain" (PDF). UCL Bartlett School of Planning. September 6, 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  16. ^ a b c "AirTrain JFK Howard Beach Intermodal Center" (PDF). STV Group (United States). 
  17. ^ a b c d "AirTrain JFK opens for service". Railway Gazette International. March 1, 2004. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  18. ^ Glucksman, Randy (October 2002). "Commuter and Transit Notes". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders Association. 45 (10): 13. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  19. ^ Erlitz, David (October 2002). "Track Construction Forecast For October, 2002 in the NYC Transit System". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders Association. 45 (10): 18–19. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  20. ^ Erlitz, Jeffrey (November 2002). "Tech Talk". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 45 (11): 7, 19. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  21. ^ Scheinbart, Betsy (May 10, 2001). "AirTrain construction starts on Jamaica station". Times Ledger. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  22. ^ Hughes, C. J. (2007-03-25). "Prices Aren’t Supersonic; the Planes Aren’t Either". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-22. 
  23. ^ "Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "A Train Service Restored to Rockaways". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 30, 2013. 
  25. ^ "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Ozone Park" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  26. ^ "NYC Official Accessibility Guide" (PDF). City of New York. 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  27. ^ Marrero, Robert (January 1, 2017). "472 Stations, 850 Miles" (PDF). B24 Blog, via Dropbox. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy: The Recovery". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 16, 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  29. ^ a b Cox, Jeremiah. "Howard Beach-JFK Airport (A, Airtrain JFK) - The SubwayNut". Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  30. ^ Testagrose, Joe (June 4, 1976). "Photo of pre-renovation Howard Beach station, showing platform and crossover design". Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  31. ^ Testagrose, Joe. "Photo of pre-renovation Howard Beach station, showing 1950s-era wall tiles". Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  32. ^ a b c d Berger, Raymond R. (December 2002). "A Tour of the JFK Airtrain". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders Association. 45 (12): 4, 16. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  33. ^ Berger, Raymond R.; Mercado, Raymond J. (January 2004). "JFK Airtrain Update - Revenue Passenger Service Begins". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders Association. 47 (1): 17–18. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  34. ^ "Cost and Tickets - AirTrain - Ground Transportation - John F. Kennedy International Airport - Port Authority of New York & New Jersey". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 

External links[edit]

  Former services  
Preceding station   MTA NYC logo.svg LIRR   Following station
toward Grand Street
Rockaway Beach Branch