NYC Subway

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The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York.Opened in 1904, the New York City Subway is one of the world’s oldest public transit systems. It is the largest rapid transit system in the world by number of stations, with 472 stations in operation. It is also one of the world’s longest.  In total, 40% of track is above ground, despite the “subway” moniker.

Episode References

In episode 105, on their way home from Coney Island, Cal leaves a subway car and leads Ben in “a chase” through one of the 472 stations of the subway, down a stair case going down from street level.

CAL: I don’t even know what this place is. I was just being random.
BEN: But you said, “It’s all connected.”
CAL: Because it is. All the tunnels in the subway, they come together.
Episode 105.16


Showing a scene of two characters riding a subway would generally not be significant. After all, that’s how people get around in New York City. Yet trains can be a symbol of one’s life journey. The underground network of subway tunnels signify the unconscious, and the terminal in which Cal leads his dad through, signifies that Ben has a choice he needs to make.

While Ben and Cal are on the subway going home, they are on the right track and headed in the right direction. When people on the train notice Ben and Cal as 828ers, and begin to take photos. In the previous episode, we get a hint that something like this might happen. In the cosmetic store (scene 104.9), Avery tells the make-up artist that Olive is “famous” because her father and son are 828ers. Olive resists, saying “Stuff happens to me, not because of me.”

Getting all this attention is unsettling for Ben. Moreover, Ben’s instinct is to protect his son. “Hey, this is my kid you are talking about.”    It’s not a coincidence that at this time Cal runs out of the train.  He does this for two reasons. First, he’s telling his dad that his one track mind of only thinking about the safety of his own family and not getting involved with others (i.e. Thomas) is not his life’s purpose. He seems to be telling him, “Come, follow me. Let me show you.” Second, Cal wants to convince Ben that he can’t let stuff just happen, he has to do something.  Isn’t that one of the reasons why Ben has callings in the first place?  In other words,  Cal wants Ben to re-consider his current train of thought, and not simply follow a track that is being determined by other people.  

When Cal leaves the subway, the station is full of people.  Ben does not want to lose his son in the crowd. Therefore, Ben follows him. Initially, he bumps other passengers, but then when Cal leads him into an empty subway, the only thin he bumps is his head while crawling through an air duct.  The empty subway indicates that Ben does not feel that he has a sufficient support system (i.e. feeling as though he is a stranger in his own house).

At one point in the “chase”, they come to a restricted area. The smaller Cal easily passes through a gate which is locked, but Ben has a more difficult time. The fact that Ben is delayed here may signify that his progress in reentering society after the plane has landed is being blocked by his fear and paranoia.

Although none of the closed off areas where Cal leads Ben could be classified as abandoned, the scene does lend itself to imagination. As Jim O’Grady notes in Inside the City’s Ghost Subway System. Dozens of tunnels and platforms in New York were either abandoned or were built but never used. These parts are as “a kind of ghost system that reveals how the city’s transit ambitions have been both realized and thwarted…Most of those lines died on the drafting table, but some were begun and then abandoned when the city ran out of money or pursued other priorities.”


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NYC Subway (Wikipedia)

New York City Subway
MTA New York City Subway logo.svg
MTA NYC Subway 1 trains at 125th St.jpg
R160A E Train entering World Trade Center.jpg
Top: A 1 train made up of R62A cars leaves the 125th Street station.
Bottom: An E train made up of R160A cars enters the Chambers Street–World Trade Center station.
Owner New York City
Area served The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens
Locale New York City
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 36 lines
25 services
(1 planned)
Number of stations 472 (MTA total count)
424 unique stations (when compared to international standards)<
14 planned
Daily ridership 5,580,845 (weekdays, 2017)
3,156,673 (Saturdays, 2017)
2,525,481 (Sundays, 2017)
Annual ridership 1,727,366,607 (2017)
Began operation

October 27, 1904
(Original subway)
July 3, 1868
(first elevated, rapid transit operation)

October 9, 1863
(first railroad operation)
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA)
Number of vehicles 6,418
Headway Peak hours: 2–5 minutes
Off-peak: 10–20 minutes
System length 245 miles (394 km)
     (route length)
691 mi (1,112 km)
     (track length, revenue)
850 mi (1,370 km)
     (track length, total)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification 600–650 V (DC) third rail; normally 625V
Average speed 17 mph (27 km/h)
Top speed 55 mph (89 km/h)
System map

NYC subway-4D.svg

The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Opened in 1904, the New York City Subway is one of the world's oldest public transit systems, one of the world's most used metro systems, and the metro system with the most stations. It offers service 24 hours per day on every day of the year, though some routes may operate only part-time.

The New York City Subway is the largest rapid transit system in the world by number of stations, with 472 stations in operation (424 if stations connected by transfers are counted as single stations). Stations are located throughout the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The Staten Island Railway is not officially considered part of the subway, as it lacks a rail link with the subway system, so passengers traveling between Staten Island and another borough must take the Staten Island Ferry or an MTA bus; free transfers are allowed to the subway and bus systems. The PATH in Manhattan and New Jersey and the AirTrain JFK in Queens both accept the subway's MetroCard but are not operated by the MTA and do not allow free transfers. However, the Roosevelt Island Tramway does allow free transfers to the MTA and bus systems, even though it is also not operated by the MTA.

The system is also one of the world's longest. Overall, the system contains 236 miles (380 km) of routes, translating into 665 miles (1,070 km) of revenue track; and a total of 850 miles (1,370 km) including non-revenue trackage.

By annual ridership, the New York City Subway is the busiest rapid transit rail system in both the Western Hemisphere and the Western world, as well as the eighth busiest rapid transit rail system in the world; only the metro (subway) systems in Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Moscow, and Hong Kong record higher annual ridership. In 2017, the subway delivered over 1.72 billion rides, averaging approximately 5.6 million daily rides on weekdays and a combined 5.7 million rides each weekend (3.2 million on Saturdays; 2.5 million on Sundays). On September 23, 2014, more than 6.1 million people rode the subway system, establishing the highest single-day ridership since ridership was regularly monitored in 1985.

Of the system's 25 services, 22 pass through Manhattan, the exceptions being the G train, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, and the Rockaway Park Shuttle. Large portions of the subway outside Manhattan are elevated, on embankments, or in open cuts, and a few stretches of track run at ground level. In total, 40% of track is above ground, despite the "subway" moniker. Many lines and stations have both express and local services. These lines have three or four tracks. Normally, the outer two are used for local trains, while the inner one or two are used for express trains. Stations served by express trains are typically major transfer points or destinations.

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