Oren’s Reading List: How Many Metrocards from NYC Do You Have?

Before the Metrocard turned gold in 1997 with the introduction of free bus to subway and subway to bus transfers, it was blue.

Last week, NY1 News in New York City ran a story about a man from The Bronx who has been collecting MTA’s Metrocards since they were introduced in 1994.  He estimates that he has over 1,000 cards, including the original blue ones as well as some special cards for students and senior citizens.  You can watch the video on NY1’s website.

Do you have any blue Metrocards?  Any other notable cards from NYC in your collection?

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

The NYC Vintage Holiday Train is Back!


For the past 10+ years, New York City Transit has operated its vintage R1-9 trains from the 1930s.  Unlike most other times these trains operate when only passengers who purchase a special ticket may board the train for an excursion, the holiday train is open to anyone who pays a regular subway fare.  In past years, the train would run along the V and later the M lines between 2nd Avenue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Queens Plaza.  However, for the first time, this year the train will be taking a different route.  While it will start at 2nd Avenue, this year it will travel on the F line to Lexington Avenue/63rd Street and then continue on the Q line to the new 96th Street/2nd Avenue station.

The holiday train operates each Sunday through December 24th.  It departs 2nd Avenue at 10 AM, 12PM, 2 PM, and 4 PM, and it departs 96th Street at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, and 5 PM.

Do you plan to ride it this year?

Rail Photo of the Month: August 2017

R160A 8497

R160A 8497

Location: 9th Avenue Station, Brooklyn, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 24, 2010

Over time, transit routes can and do change.  I took this photo of an M train entering the 9th Avenue station in Brooklyn on the last day of M train service at this location in 2010.  Starting the next Monday morning, the M train had a new route that used a track connection that had been out of use since 1976.  The M train is just one of many New York City Subway lines which has maintained both a segment where it has always run (Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn) and a variety of segments that it no longer serves (Brighton Line, West End Line, Nassau Street Line, etc.).  The same can go for certain stations.  The Myrtle Avenue Line originally served a now demolished upper level station at the Myrtle Avenue-Broadway Station and continued to Downtown Brooklyn.  The 9th Avenue Station where I took this photo has a disused lower level that serves the now demolished Culver Shuttle Line; you can see the tracks leading to that abandoned level to the right of the M train in this photo.  The New York City Subway has many fun nuances like this, as do other systems, though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent.  It is what makes this hobby so fun sometimes, to travel around and know what was and what could be and to document it as best I can.

For more photos of the R160s, please click here.


Oren’s Reading List: A Complete and Geographically Accurate NYC Subway Track Map

Back in February 2016, there was a Travelogue post about Andrew Lynch’s totally accurate but totally useless subway maps.  This week, I’ve seen another one of Andrew Lynch’s projects floating around the internet, and I think this one falls in to the same category.  This week’s hot topic is his complete and geographically accurate NYC subway track map.  A track map is a map that shows all the tracks of a given subway, including the switching tracks, non-revenue connections between lines, and so on.  The point of using this type of map isn’t so much to be able to navigate from point A to point B, but rather to understand how the subway system as a whole comes together, and in the case of a system as complex as New York’s, to see the myriad of routing options available for all the trains.

However, in my opinion, I think the value of a geographically accurate track map is limited.  As I’ve discussed here and there in other posts, there are certainly times where it is interesting to see how things are laid out geographically, as opposed to on the not-to-scale subway maps that are generally used for navigation by the public.  However, if the primary purpose of a track map is to show how all the individual tracks and platforms come together to form a single system, how necessary is it that everything be exactly to scale?  On the flip side, especially in the case of New York where the MTA’s map distorts geography and makes some lines that are quite close together appear much further apart, it is fascinating to see how the B, D, F, and M trains not only pass under the 4, 5, and 6 tracks within the Broadway-Lafayette Station, but also the N, Q, R, and W tracks, or how the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, and Q trains all operate under Flatbush Avenue for a distance in Brooklyn.

View this map on Andrew Lynch’s website by clicking here.  

Do you prefer having a scale track map, or does Andrew Lynch’s latest creation fall in to the accurate but useless category?  Leave a comment with your opinion!

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Rail Photo of the Month: January 2017

R44 5410

R44 5410

Location: Beach 25th Street Station, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 28, 2010


Today at noon, the Second Avenue Subway will open for revenue service in New York City. The Second Avenue Subway was first conceived in 1929 as a six track line running the length of Manhattan.  Needless to say, it took a long time to turn this line from sketches on maps in to reality.  So long in fact that several classes of subway cars that were designed with the intention of operating them on the Second Avenue Subway were introduced, operated elsewhere on the subway, and have already been retired.  One of these car classes was the R44, which is featured as the photo of the month for January 2017 in honor of the opening of the Second Avenue Subway.

The R44 was the first New York City subway car to be 75 feet long, under the premise it would be more efficient to operate 8 75 foot long cars as a single train instead of 10 60 foot long cars (both trainsets are 600 feet long).  They were also the first cars to feature bucket seats, audible door chimes, and lacked the traditional straps that standing passengers held on to.  They were introduced on the F line in 1971, overhauled in the early 1990s, and remained in service until their retirement in 2010 due to structural integrity concerns, having never had the chance to operate on the line they were expected to serve.  Instead, the Second Avenue Subway will be served by the R160s that currently operate on the Q line.

For more photos of the R44 subway cars, please click here.


Happy Birthday to the New York City Subway!

Today marks the 112th anniversary of the opening of the New York City Subway.  On this date in 1904, the first section of subway opened.  At that time, the line started at the now abandoned City Hall station, operated up the Lexington Avenue line to 42nd Street, jogged west on the tracks that are now used by the 42nd Street Shuttle, and then continued up the Broadway line to 145th Street.  Stopping at 28 stations on this original route (including four that are no longer in service), it was an instant hit with New Yorkers.
Today, the New York City has more stations than any other subway system in the world (469) serving 1.7 billion passengers annually.  It is one of the few in the world to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and to have express tracks for much of its length.  The subway’s 113th year promises to be an exciting one as the Second Avenue Subway is (finally) due to open some time between now and next October 27 if all goes to plan.  We’ll see in a year from now if that actually happens, or if the SAS opening waits for year 114…


Oren’s Reading List: NYC Subway Record

34th Street-Hudson Yards Station, December 27, 2015

I enjoy riding trains, perhaps more than most.  That said, I don’t think Matthew Ahn needs to worry about my breaking his record for fastest trip through the entire New York City Subway.  He had the Guinness World Record for the feat, but then the new 34th Street-Hudson Yards station opened on the 7 last year.  Not only did Ahn set out to make sure he would still have the record for the expanded system, he beat his original record by about 21 minutes!  Read about his 21 hour 28 minute 14 second odyssey through all 469 New York City subway stations in this article from the New York Daily News.

While I don’t have any aspirations to challenge this record, I have been to every station on the subways in Washington, DC, Toronto, Rome, Haifa, as well as the entire Jerusalem Light Rail, in a single day (and some of those were on a single fare, too).  What about you?

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: Subway Train or Temperature Converter?

It’s been hot and sticky in the northeast US in the past few days.  Need to convert the temperature in Fahrenheit to Celsius?  (After all, those smaller numbers on the Celsius scale ought to be cooler, or is that just wishful thinking?)  Just take a look at the NYC Subway map!

I’m not kidding either!  A friend recently shared this article with me on Facebook, explaining how the 6 train stops on the East Side of Manhattan can also serve as a nifty Farenheit to Celsius conversion table.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out below!

Subway map or temperature conversion table? Take your pick! Image from https://twitter.com/gabor.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: The 11 Most Beautiful Train Stations Across America

Even if the golden age of train travel in the US is more of a memory than anything else today, its remnants are still visible to anyone who still travels by rail.  Thrillist.com has put together a list of the 11 most beautiful train stations in the United States.  I’ve been to 7 of the 11.  How many have you been to?  Which is your favorite?  Was something left off the list that you think should have been included?  Check out the list here and then answer any or all of these questions in the comments below!

Oren’s Reading List: The World’s 15 Most Complex Subway Maps

Ever look at a subway map and think to yourself “how on earth am I ever going to figure out where I’m going by using this thing?”  Recently, a group of theoretical physicists and mathematicians attempted to figure out which maps “exceed our cognitive limits.”  If you think the New York City subway map is overwhelming, the research team would agree with you.  You can read a summary of the study’s findings and see the list of the 15 most complex maps at CityLab, or you can read the entire paper (it is only 8 pages) at ScienceAdvances.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.