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The Amazing and Scary New York City Subway

April 27, 2015

It’s like that 5,000-piece puzzle you bought thinking “yeah, I’m going impress all of my friends when I complete this in one day”, but it then takes up your whole kitchen table for the next year. You managed to find one corner piece a couple of hours in, but the other 4,999 pieces of blue sky are not helping you get any further. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, your cat eats the corner piece, and you have to start all over again.

NYC subway

Welcome to the New York Subway System.

It’s a bit crazy and absolutely massive, but it’s also extremely useful.

Owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, it is the largest rapid transit system in the world. It has- (make sure you swallow you coffee and sit down)- 421 operating stations.


Four hundred and twenty one.

Don’t worry, here is a blow-by-blow breakdown of how to use it:

-After you stop confusing NYC Subway signs and the signs for Subway Restaurants, you’re halfway there to becoming fluent in the language of public transit.

-Walk inside the station you desire and figure out the name and location of it (what pretty-coloured line is it on?!).

-Once you’re inside (and have paid for your ticket in a legal tender), you have to make sure you’re going the direction you want to go in: look at a map of the system and trace your finger along the coloured line: each line will have two ends, like some sort of never-moving disco worm.

-Look at the last stop on each end. What is that last station called? Is it in Queens? Brooklyn? Does it end in an actual Subway restaurant (in our dreams they all do)?

-The signs inside of the station will say things about the direction of the train (Uptown, Lower Manhattan, deliciousness). Use the end stations you found on the map, and head confidently towards the train of your dreams. (If you are in Battery Park and want to go north in Manhattan, go in the direction of Uptown, etc.)

-Sit down, relax, and impress those around you with the following New York Subway Facts:

The New York City Subway is also one of the world’s oldest public transit systems. In 1869, the first pneumatic tube system was put in place, but stretched a measly 95 metres and was destroyed to make room for the real subway in 1910. The New York Subway literally destroyed its predecessor, then used its exact same route just to spite it.

Overall, the system contains 373 km of routes, translating into 1,355 km of total track. It would take you longer to ride the whole New York Subway Station than to complete a 5,000-piece puzzle of a cloudless sky. In 2014, the subway delivered over 1.75 billion rides, averaging approximately 5.6 million daily rides on weekdays.

Basically, if you don’t like people, you should take a cab.

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