Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

Moderator: GirlOnTheTrain

  by FRN9
Does anyone know if there was ever the idea to extend the A train that terminates at lefferts up liberty ave to connect to the airtrain and run directly to the terminals?. This seems pretty easy to construct.
  by RWERN
It certain seems relatively easy. If the idea ever did come up, I'm sure funding would've been a concern and complaints about an el would've cropped up from locals. Probably the argument against a connection is that the Airtrain already connects to the A elsewhere. Frankly, it would probably be much more flexible if the A went to the station at Jamaica, giving many more transferring options.
  by Kamen Rider
legaly impossible. the money spent on the system can't have anything to do with off airport transportation, that's why it's $5 to enter and leave.
  by FRN9
Kamen Rider wrote:legaly impossible. the money spent on the system can't have anything to do with off airport transportation, that's why it's $5 to enter and leave.
This makes me laugh. You should read The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Law can be changed then things become legally possible.
  by Jeff Smith
Are the systems technically compatible? It seems to me the Airtrain was built to be NOT compatible. Whether this takes the form of reduced clearances making B equipment incompatible, to a different gauge or power system, to different signal systems, etc. I can't remember; does the Airtrain even have an operator? Or Operator/Conductor? Now you've got different work rules.

Kamen's point is well-taken; if the system was built with the ticket surcharge, it likely can't be merged without FAA approval.
  by FRN9
The track gauge is standard for the possibility of having a unified ride. I don't doubt the issues raised. It just seems absurd to say this makes it impossible.
  by Jeff Smith
I agree it's not impossible. I've never taken it so I don't know how well the combo with the subway and LIRR at Jamaica works, and if there were better ideas.
  by Patrick Boylan
I assume because they wanted to take as much advantage of the highway right of way as they could, at Jamaica the Airtrain elevated is perpendicular to the Long Island Railroad and E and J subway, then makes a 90 degree right turn to the east to run elevated into stub end platforms, pointing away from Manhatten, on the south side of Jamaica LIRR station. In my opinion it's a rather long walk from the subway up to street or railroad mezzanine level, then under or over all the railroad tracks, then up, or down, to the airtrain concourse, then another long walk to get to the airtrain platforms, which for some reason are still about a block away from the pathway from the subway or railroad waiting room.

The airtain approach to Jamaica is similar to Newark aiport's airtrain, which comes from the airport perpendicular to the North East Corridor and makes a right turn to its platforms next to the North East Corridor's EWR station, except at EWR the airtrain's facing towards Newark, and stops just about where there's a straight passage to escalators and elevators to a mezzanine that goes directly to the railroad escalators and elevators.

Unless they build some new track that branches off somewhere south of Jamaica and then makes a big left turn, to serve Jamaica and continue on to Manhatten would require changing ends. Not that that should be a big deal with the current automated train operation, or even subway style operation, but it could be burdensome if they run under FRA railroad style operation, which always seems to me to involve a 30 minute brake test every time they change ends:)
  by Kamen Rider
airtrain uses Linear induction motors and is fully automated.

I should point out that if the MTA wanted to extend the subway to the airport, wouldn't it have done so?
  by tommyboy6181
From what I know, the track gauge is identical. However, there are power differences in the third rail: the subway runs at 600 volts, AirTrain at 750 volts. The signalling systems are different since AirTrain is fully automated. Also, AirTrain uses a Toshiba linear induction motor in their cars, so an aluminum reactor plate is placed in between the tracks. The subway does not need to use this since they use standard DC or AC motors. Is it possible it could work? Sure. However, it would be pretty damn expensive to convert the AirTrain cars into dual voltage.
  by railfan365
In regard to some of the points mentioned so far, It seem rather basic that with routine design work and considerable expense, a subway line could have been extended or branched to Kennedy Airport. That would have created a more conveient train access than what has been built. (This coud have been done with one or more of the Far Rockaway Branch, the lefferts Branch, or the Archer Avenue extension. However, for reasons that I can only speculate about, a political decision was made to have a separate little railroad as such.

At the same time, we can also talk avbout such other projects that have not been proposed as a branch of the Queensboro IRT going to LaGuardia Airport, and/or extension of that line, the Archer Avenue Branch, or the Hillside Avenue Branch deeper into Queens. Any of those would definitely make loca travel more convenient.