Mass transit in New York City
New York City's public transportation network is the most extensive in North America. About one in every three users of mass transit in the United States and two-thirds of the nation's rail riders are residents of New York City, or its suburbs. Data from the 2000 U.S. Census reveals that New York is the only locality in the United States where more than half of all households do not own a car (the figure is even higher in Manhattan, over 75 percent). While nearly 90 percent of Americans drive to their jobs, mass transit is the primary form of travel for New Yorkers. New York's uniquely high rate of public transit makes it one of the most energy efficient cities in the country.
- 1 Ridership
- 2 Fare collection
- 3 Modes of transit
- 4 Major transit terminals
- 5 Expansion plans
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates most of New York City's transit systems. Using census data, the MTA reported in August 2006 that ridership on its buses, subways and commuter trains in recent years has grown faster than population growth, indicating that more New Yorkers are choosing to use mass transit, despite the poor service of some areas in New York City by mass transit. The MTA attributed the ridership gains to the introduction of the MetroCard in 1993, and the replacement of more than 2,800 rolling stock since 2000.
From 1995 to 2005, the authority said, ridership on city buses and subways grew by 36%, compared with a population gain in the city of 7%. In the suburbs, it said, a 14% increase in ridership on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road outpaced a suburban population gain of 6%. With dramatic increases in fuel prices in 2008, as well as increased tourism and residential growth, ridership on buses and subways grew 3.1% up to about 2.37 billion trips a year compared to 2007. This is the highest ridership since 1965.
Over 5 million people ride the transit network each weekday, and the system is a major venue for commerce, entertainment and political activism. Much of the city relies on the subway as its main source of transportation and New York City is home to two of only five 24-hour subway systems in the United States. Campaigning at subway stations is a staple of New York elections akin to candidate appearances at small town diners during presidential campaigns in the rest of the country. Each week, more than 100 musicians and ensembles – ranging in genre from classical to Cajun, bluegrass, African, South American and jazz – give over 150 performances sanctioned by New York City Transit at 25 locations throughout the subway system, many under the Music Under New York program. There are many more who are unauthorized performers, called buskers, ranging from professionals putting on an impromptu show to panhandlers seeking donations by way of a song.
One outcome of the city's extensive mass transit use is a robust local newspaper industry. The readership of many New York dailies consists in large part by transit riders who read during their commutes. The three-day transit strike in December 2005 briefly depressed circulation figures, underscoring the relationship between the city's commuting culture and newspaper readership.
The subways of New York have been venues for beauty pageants and guerrilla theater. The MTA's annual Miss Subways contest ran from 1941 to 1976 and again in 2004 (under the revised name "Ms. Subways").
The subways and commuter rail systems also have some artworks in their stations, commissioned under the MTA Arts & Design umbrella.
The MetroCard is the current payment method for MTA-operated subway and bus systems, as well as for several other transportation systems in the metropolitan area. It is a thin, plastic card on which the customer electronically loads fares. Payment may be made at automated machines that accept money, credit cards, and debit cards. Variable pay schemes are available; cards with more pre-paid rides offer greater discounts. The MetroCard was introduced to enhance the technology of the transit system and eliminate the burden of carrying and collecting tokens.
In 2006, New York City's two main transportation systems, New York City Subway and PATH, announced plans to introduce smart cards for paying fares. In February 2006, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled a $73 million smart card system in the World Trade Center PATH station. The PATH "SmartLink" card contains an antenna attached to a computer chip, which can be read by turnstiles without requiring passengers to swipe cards, similar to the TfL Oyster card. The SmartLink card will eventually replace the magnetic-strip QuickCard accepted at PATH turnstiles. The MTA-owned subway and bus networks will eventually use this same technology. A consortium of New York metropolitan transit agencies, including the Port Authority and New Jersey Transit, will test different versions and introduce a single standard. In the future, all New York City area transit systems will use the same "contactless" payment system, but this is not expected to be completed within the near future because the MTA considers upgrading the payment system a lower priority for limited funds than urgent track and signal maintenance.
Modes of transit
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a New York State public benefit corporation tasked with providing mass transit in the New York City metropolitan area through its various subsidiary agencies.
- MTA New York City Transit provides extensive fixed-fare subway and bus service (the latter controlled by Regional Bus below) throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The subway system is one of the largest in the world, with over 720 miles (1,160 km) of track and 469 stations. The free (except at St. George and Tompkinsville) Staten Island Railway, part of this system, provides north–south service along the entire length of Staten Island.
- MTA Regional Bus Operations provides bus service within New York City, utilizing two public brands:
- MTA New York City Bus for most transit service within New York City.
- MTA Bus Company for routes previously operated by private companies under contract to the New York City Department of Transportation.
- MTA Long Island Rail Road provides extensive commuter service to most of Long Island, with destinations in Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties via two trunk lines and six subsidiary branches. The LIRR operates to and from a single station in Manhattan (New York County), Pennsylvania Station.
- MTA Metro-North Railroad provides commuter service from The Bronx, Westchester County, Putnam County, Dutchess County and southern Connecticut into Grand Central Terminal. Three main lines terminate in Poughkeepsie, Wassaic, and New Haven. The lattermost line has connecting branches to New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury in Connecticut. In partnership with New Jersey Transit, Metro-North Railroad also provides commuter services into Hoboken, New Jersey from Port Jervis and Spring Valley.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates three rail systems, two of which are in New York City:
- PATH, an electric railroad connecting Manhattan to New Jersey
- AirTrain JFK, a rapid transit system connecting the terminals and parking areas at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Jamaica, and Howard Beach, Queens
The Port Authority also owns and operates the three major airports in the New York City area and the Stewart International Airport about 55 miles north. Regional bus service to New Jersey, upstate New York, the Midwest, and Canada travels from the Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square and the smaller George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal.
New Jersey Transit
New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) provides extensive commuter rail service from northern and central New Jersey to Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. NJ Transit also has an extensive network of bus routes radiating in and out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and George Washington Bridge Bus Station. In addition to buses and commuter trains, NJ Transit also operates three light rail systems in the state.
- The Northeast Corridor Line provides electric rail service between Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and Trenton. At Trenton, riders can connect to SEPTA and Amtrak.
- The North Jersey Coast Line provides electric rail service between Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and Long Branch. Diesel service is provided between Long Branch and Bay Head or Hoboken and Bay Head.
- The Raritan Valley Line provides diesel rail service between High Bridge, Raritan, and Newark Penn Station.
- The Pascack Valley Line provides diesel rail service between Spring Valley, NY and Hoboken Terminal.
- The Bergen County Line, Main Line and Port Jervis Line provide diesel rail service between Port Jervis, NY and Hoboken. NJ Transit has a partnership with Metro North Railroad in which they provide the facilities necessary for stations within north of Suffern, New York.
- The Montclair-Boonton Line provides electric rail service between Montclair, and Pennsylvania Station, designated as Midtown Direct. It provides diesel service from Hackettstown, Dover, Montclair, and Hoboken.
- The Morris and Essex Lines provide electric rail service between Dover or Gladstone and Penn Station, designated as Midtown Direct.
Amtrak provides long-distance passenger rail connections from New York Penn Station to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New England, Upstate New York, Montreal, Toronto, Florida, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago and the Midwest. For trips of less than 500 miles, Amtrak is often cheaper and easier than air travel, and sometimes faster if travel to and from the airport and security check-in times are included. Amtrak's high-speed Acela service from New York to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington uses tilting technology and fast electric locomotives. This route, known as the Northeast Corridor, accounts for about half of Amtrak's ridership and covers its own operating, but not capital, costs.
Other transit in the city includes:
- The Roosevelt Island Tramway, an aerial commuter tram connecting Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. Connecting "Red Bus" service is available on the Island.
- The Staten Island Ferry, a free ferry operated by the New York City Department of Transportation connecting St. George and the Staten Island Railway in Staten Island to South Ferry in Manhattan.
- NY Waterway, Liberty Water Taxi, New York Water Taxi, NY Waterway, and SeaStreak, are privately operated ferry systems with service to Hudson County, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Raritan Bayshore.
- The Bee-Line Bus System, connecting the Bronx and Westchester County.
- Nassau Inter-County Express, a bus system operated by Veolia Transportation that connects Queens and Nassau County. Until 2012, it was operated by the MTA under the brand Long Island Bus.
- The Downtown Connection, a free shuttle bus service in Lower Manhattan operated by the Downtown Alliance.
- Coach USA and Atlantic Express privately operated commuter bus lines with service to New Jersey. Several private bus companies also operate shuttles to area airports.
- US Helicopter, a private scheduled helicopter service operating from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport and the 34th Street Heliport to area airports and Connecticut.
- Private Transportation operates a bus route (labeled B110) between Borough Park and Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
- Dollar vans operate in the boroughs outside Manhattan and in New Jersey.
Major transit terminals
There are several major transit terminals in the New York metropolitan area. They include train stations, bus terminals, and ferry landings.
- Pennsylvania Station, which is served by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and the New York City Subway
- Grand Central Terminal, which is served by Metro-North Railroad and the New York City Subway
- Jamaica Station, which is served by Long Island Rail Road, New York City Subway, and AirTrain JFK
- Atlantic Terminal, which is served by the New York City Subway and Long Island Rail Road
- Hoboken Terminal, which is served by New Jersey Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Port Authority Trans-Hudson, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and NY Waterway
- Port Authority Bus Terminal, served by commuter and intercity buses
- George Washington Bridge Bus Station, also served by commuter and some intercity buses
- Chinatown, including the corner of East Broadway and Forsyth Street, where several intercity Chinatown buses have a common terminus.
- East 34th Street Ferry Landing, served by NY Waterway and SeaStreak
- South Street Seaport, served by New York Water Taxi
- St. George Ferry Terminal, served by the Staten Island Ferry
- Pier 11/Wall Street, served by New York Water Taxi, NY Waterway, and SeaStreak
- West Midtown Ferry Terminal, served NY Waterway
- Whitehall Terminal (South Ferry), served by the Staten Island Ferry
- Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, near the World Financial Center, served by NY Waterway, Liberty Water Taxi, New York Water Taxi
- Fulton Slip
- Red Hook
There are several proposals for expanding the New York City transit system that are in various stages of planning, initial funding, or completion:
- In January 2007, the Port Authority approved plans for the $78.5 million purchase of a lease of Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York as a 4th major airport for the area.
- World Trade Center Transportation Hub, whose construction began in late 2005, will replace the temporary PATH terminal that replaced the one destroyed in the September 11 attacks. This new central terminal, designed by Santiago Calatrava, will allow easy transfer between the PATH system, several subway lines and proposed new projects. It is expected to serve 250,000 travelers daily when it opens on December 15, 2015.
- Fulton Center, a $1.4 billion project in Lower Manhattan that will improve access to and connections between 11 subway routes, PATH service and the World Trade Center site. Construction began in 2005, and it opened on November 10, 2014.
- Moynihan Station would expand Penn Station into the James Farley Post Office building across the street. The first phase has been fully funded.
- Second Avenue Subway, a new north-south line, first proposed in 1929, would run from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in lower Manhattan. The first phase, from 63rd Street to 96th Street, is under construction, and is scheduled to be opened to passenger service on December 30, 2016.
- 7 Subway Extension would extend the 7 <7> trains west along 42nd Street from its current terminus at Times Square, then south along 11th Avenue to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center/Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project at 34th Street station. Tunnel construction began in 2008, and operational service started on September 13, 2015.
- East Side Access project will route some Long Island Rail Road Trains to Grand Central Terminal instead of Penn Station. Since many, if not most, LIRR commuters work on the east side of Manhattan, many in walking distance of Grand Central, this project will save travel time and reduce congestion at Penn Station and on subway lines connecting it with the east side. It will also greatly expand the hourly capacity of the LIRR system. Completion is scheduled for 2023.
- The Lower Manhattan – Jamaica / JFK Transportation Project would extend the Atlantic Branch, an existing Long Island Rail Road line from Jamaica Station, with a new 3-mile (4.8 km) tunnel under the East River from downtown Brooklyn to Manhattan. AirTrain JFK-compatible cars would run along the new route, connecting John F. Kennedy International Airport and Jamaica with Lower Manhattan. This project is still just a proposal, although it has the support of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
- Gateway Project will add a second pair of railroad tracks under the Hudson River, connecting an expanded Penn Station to NJ Transit and Amtrak lines. This project is a successor to a similar one called Access to the Region's Core, which was canceled in October 2010 by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, citing the possibility of cost overruns and the state's lack of funds. Amtrak is now in charge of the project, which is currently under construction and slated to be completed by 2020.
- Although New York City does not have light rail, a few proposals exist:
- There are plans to convert 42nd Street into a light rail transit mall that would be closed to all vehicles except emergency vehicles. The idea was previously planned in the early 1990s, and was approved by the City Council in 1994, but stalled due to lack of funds. It is opposed by the city government because it would compete with the 7 Subway Extension/IRT Flushing Line (7 <7> trains).
- Staten Island light rail proposals have found political support from Senator Charles Schumer and local political and business leaders. Proposals for a Staten Island light rail system include possible connection to Hudson–Bergen Light Rail over the Bayonne Bridge.
- Brooklyn Historic Railway Association is also planning light rail in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
- Other proposals to restore streetcar or light rail service to Brooklyn have occasionally been discussed. 
- John F. Kennedy International Airport is undergoing a US$10.3 billion redevelopment, one of the largest airport reconstruction projects in the world. In recent years, Terminals 1, 4, 5, and 8 have been reconstructed.
- As part of a long-term plan to manage New York City's environmental sustainability, Mayor Michael Bloomberg released several proposals to increase mass transit usage and improve overall transportation infrastructure. Apart from support of the above capital projects, these proposals include the implementation of bus rapid transit, the reopening of closed LIRR and Metro-North stations, new ferry routes, better access for cyclists, pedestrians and intermodal transfers, and a congestion pricing zone for Manhattan south of 86th Street.
- Mayor De Blasio's OneNYC Plan has called for a study of extending rail service down Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. It is unclear whether such a line would be a subway or elevated, and funding is uncertain.
- The OneNYC Plan has also called for upgrading the LIRR's Atlantic Branch to subway-like frequency once the East Side Access project is completed
- The same plan has called for new ferry routes and more Select Bus Service routes.
- Council Members in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx have called for a shuttle train down Fordham Road.
- Queens politicians have suggested reactivating the abandoned Rockaway Beach Branch Line for either LIRR or Subway service. 
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