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

Moderator: GirlOnTheTrain

  by Gilbert B Norman
During May, I paid my Niece a visit in Brooklyn. Save a 2009 family wedding held in Fulton park between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, I had not set foot in the Borough of Brooklyn since 1955 when I went to a Dodgers ball game with my Father. When setting up this visit I can recall saying to my Niece "Annie, please do not forget I know my around the Moon better than I do around Brooklyn".

So far as NY subways go, I can only claim familiarity with the IRT on Manhattan. Venturing around on the BMT and IND lines in the "outer boroughs" would essentially be a new experience for me.

First, I had to be "reeducated" that IRT BMT and IND are now "non terms"; my Niece, who has resided in Brooklyn for her entire married life since '04, said "oh I've heard those somewhere". So what follows are my "trip reports" from my IND and BMT lines during a four day visit over first weekend in May that originated either at 86 or 95 Sts. in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn.

First trip was Friday with my Niece and her child to Jay Street on "R" and a visit to the Transit Museum. Because of unruliness by "guess who" we almost missed the lower level of working subway cars. Now that the TBTA and NYCTA are one agency, I found the pictures of the Verrazano under construction as well as some of the earlier proposals to bridge The Narrows quite interesting. For the return, I got off by myself at 86st as that was closest stop to my hotel.

It doesn't seem as if "R" Trains are about to set any speed records; 30mph was about all they were going to go. Upstairs, 4th Ave. is "posted at 30"; reality? well.....

Saturday, time for another adventure. My Niece met me at the hotel and from there, well 86th, we rode "R" to Atlantic Ave. and a noontime concert at Brooklyn Academy of Music. We walked by Barclay Center - guess that is supposed to make me a sports fan. After the concert, we went to a "take it or leave it" restaurant (well that's me; my almost vegetarian Niece thought their Kale was wonderful) on Fifth Ave and Carroll St. After Lunch, my Niece had to split as she had to teach at the Conservatory. However, my Nephew who lives in Queens showed up with wife and child. After visiting "with a few", he led me to the Union St. "R" station and I was off for my first ride on my own - admittedly "having had a few". I got off without incident at 86th and now it is time for a "bigger adventure" on my own. This was a ride from 86st to DeKalb then transfer to "Q" to 57th St and a walk to Lincoln Center and a Philharmonic concert. The ride over the Manhattan Bridge was a first in a lifetime experience for me; of course I was the only one looking out at the beautiful view of Lower Manhattan. Now I'm starting to 'get my mojo" and feeling much more comfortable about the experience. When the "Q" got to 57th St. and 7th Ave, I said to myself "I know where I am" and decided enough subways, time for a walk. and so I walked to B'Way and 65th and Lincoln Center. The concert was great, and could well be the last time for me to hear Alan Gilbert conduct.

For the return, I took "D" (wasn't that former BMT?) from Columbus Circle, over the Manhattan Bridge to DeKalb and otherwise a reverse route to 86th. Aside from the lateness of the hour, I was really feeling "master of the universe"; well let's leave that as "of the NYC subways".

No rides Sunday (Mother's Day; and my Sister came in from Greenwich), but Monday it was time to go home. Having been bilked with a $70 taxicab ride from JFK that took 1.25 hours, I was not about to repeat that experience. So I was going to make like Duke Ellington and "take the "A" Train" to JFK. The transfer at Jay St. was becoming "old hat". The "A" runs Express into Queens so it moved along quite well, and the experience of traveling over the former LIRR to Howard Beach was a new one. While I'm not certain what the difference between Air Train and the people movers found at many an airport, it did its job and got me to Jet Blue comfortably before my return flight to O'Hare. Cost this time $7.75, of which $5 was the Air Train.

All told, it was quite an experience. I'm sure the $2.75 a ride far exceeds an inflation adjusted ride of $.15 (cents) that I remember from the '60's, but I always felt secure on the now clean trains. Be it assured that at such time, I make this trip again, such will not include $70 to sit in a Belt Parkway traffic jam.
  by Allan
Gilbert, that is quite a report. You have to come to NYC a bit more often.

IRT, BMT and IND are 'non-terms' only as far as the riding public is concerned. Many TA personnel still use it on internal communications as well as radio communications. While the IRT is called "A Division" and BMT and IND are B1 and B2 Divison respectively. You will still hear someone from the Rail Command Center tell someone over the radio to "call the BMT desk". I have heard an occasional conductor still say BMT when announcing transfer points at a station. There are still places where IRT, IND and BMT signs are still in place.

The TBTA and NYCTA are not one agency. They are separate legal entities under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (along with the LIRR and MetroNorth Railroad). Also the TBTA is more commonly referred to as 'MTA Bridges and Tunnels' (just don't say that in front of someone who works for the TBTA.)

The Transit Museum started out as solely NYCTA but was 'bumped up' to be under the MTA itself. That way the other agencies of the MTA can contribute to the Museum's exhibits thus increasing visitor interest. The Museum is somewhat self-sustaining in that nearly all the operating costs are covered by membership dues/contributions, contributions from large Corporations and proceeds from sale of souvenirs. The MTA did this so that they (the MTA) can overspend on other things.

The D was always IND but in 1967 with the opening of the Chrystie St connection to the north side of the Manhattan Bridge, the IND thus invaded (for the 2nd time) BMT territory. At first the B train covered the West End line (T and TT trains) and the D was moved from the Culver line to the Brighton line. The F train took the D's place on the Culver line. In later years the B was moved over to the Brighton line and the D was given the West End line. The train operators and conductors on B and D trains have to change radio frequencies (from IND B2 to BMT B1 or vice versa)at the Grand St station.