The A Eighth Avenue Express is a rapid transit service in the B Division of the New York City Subway. Its route emblem, or "bullet", is colored blue since it uses the IND Eighth Avenue Line in Manhattan.
The A operates at all times. Daytime service operates between 207th Street in Inwood, Manhattan and Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, Queens or Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill, Queens, making express stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn and local stops in Queens. Limited rush-hour service also operates to or from Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park, Queens. Late night service operates only between 207th Street and Far Rockaway, making local stops along its entire route; during this time, a shuttle train (the Lefferts Boulevard Shuttle) operates between Euclid Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard.[a]
The A provides the longest one-seat ride in the system—at 32.39 miles (52.13 km), between Inwood and Far Rockaway—and has a weekday ridership of 600,000.
The A and AA were the first services on the IND Eighth Avenue Line when it opened on September 10, 1932. The Independent Subway System (IND) used single letters to refer to express services and double letters for local services. The A ran express between 207th Street and Chambers Street/World Trade Center, and the AA ran local between 168th Street and Chambers St/World Trade Center, known at the time as Hudson Terminal. During late-night hours (from 1:45 a.m. to 5:45 a.m.) and on Sundays, the A did not run and the AA made all stops along the line.:15
The A was extended to Jay Street–Borough Hall on February 1, 1933, when the Cranberry Street Tunnel to Brooklyn opened, and to Bergen Street, when the extension opened on March 20. On July 1, the A began running express at all times, stopping at 155th Street and 163rd Street during late nights.:82 The A was extended to Church Avenue on October 7.
On April 9, 1936, the IND Fulton Street Line was opened to Rockaway Avenue. The 1936 extension played an integral part in the establishment of Bedford-Stuyvesant as Brooklyn's central African American community. The A train connected Harlem, Manhattan's central African American community, to areas of Bedford-Stuyvesant that provided residential opportunities for African Americans not found throughout the rest of New York City.
On December 30, 1946, and November 28, 1948, the line was extended to Broadway–East New York (now Broadway Junction) and Euclid Avenue, respectively.:82 On October 24, 1949, express service in Brooklyn to Broadway–East New York began with the A running express during rush hours, with the E extended to provide local service.
Extensions to Ozone Park and the Rockaways
On April 29, 1956, Grant Avenue was opened, and the line was extended over the BMT Fulton Street Line to Lefferts Boulevard. On weekdays except midnights, alternate trains terminated at Lefferts Boulevard and at Euclid Avenue. During weekends, they terminated at Euclid Avenue with a shuttle to Lefferts Boulevard.
Two months later, on June 28, 1956, the former Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch, having been rebuilt to subway specifications, began service to Rockaway Park and Wavecrest (Beach 25th Street). At this time, rush hour express service on the Fulton Street Line with the E train began.
On September 16, 1956, the A was extended to the Rockaways, replacing the E. At the time, alternate trains continued running to Lefferts Boulevard. On January 27, 1957, non-rush hour through service to the Rockaways was discontinued and was replaced by a shuttle running between Euclid Avenue and Wavecrest (now Beach 25th Street). Non-rush hour A train service was now to Lefferts Boulevard.
On June 18, 1957, the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) announced plans to have Rockaway-bound A trains skip Grant Avenue, Hudson Street, and Boyd Street during rush hours on a one-month pilot, to take effect July 1. The change was made to determine whether ten minutes could be reduced off of travel times to the Rockaways; the NYCTA only believed it would save three minutes. In the face of community opposition, the NYCTA announced that it would take more time to review the change, meaning that it ultimately did not take effect on July 1.
On January 16, 1958, a new terminal was opened at Far Rockaway–Mott Avenue, and the through connection to the Long Island Rail Road's Far Rockaway station was severed. On September 8, 1958, the A train replaced the E train in the Rockaways again. "Round-robin" service from Euclid Avenue to both Rockaway terminals began, non-rush hours, while through A service ran to Lefferts Boulevard. In September 1959, the A began to run local in Brooklyn at all times, as the E became express in Brooklyn.
In 1963, the E train was extended to the Rockaways, and the A train ran local to Euclid Avenue or Lefferts Boulevard at all times. (HH shuttle service from Euclid Avenue provided all service to the Rockaways). On July 9, 1967, the A train was extended to Far Rockaway middays, evenings, and weekends, replacing the HH shuttle on that branch. Five years later, it was also extended during rush hours.
Simplifying service patterns
On January 2, 1973, the A train became the express service along Fulton Street and the E train became the local during rush hours. Finally, on August 30, 1976, the C became the Fulton Street Local during rush hours. On August 27, 1977, the A began making local stops in Manhattan during late nights, when the AA was not running.
On December 11, 1988, A trains began running local between 145th Street and 168th Street on weekends to replace the discontinued K (formerly AA) service, and express on the IND Fulton Street Line in Brooklyn during middays and rush hours, with the C providing local service during those times. On September 30, 1990, A trains began operating local between 145th Street and 168th Street during weekday evenings.
In 1991, at a series of meetings, the NYCTA presented proposed changes to A, C, and H service that would shorten the length of the C, simplify the service pattern during late nights to most efficiently serve the majority of riders, provide direct express service to Rockaway Park during rush hours in the peak direction, and provide shuttle connections during non-peak periods between Rockaway Park and through A train service. The service pattern devised was designed to improve operations by reducing route length and complexity, make service more attractive, simplify confusing service patterns, and reduce transfers for passengers traveling during late nights.
At the time, A service ran to Lefferts Boulevard and Far Rockaway during the day while the C ran to Rockaway Park during rush hours. During late nights, A service ran to Lefferts Boulevard, while service to both branches in the Rockaways was provided by round-robin H shuttle service to Euclid Avenue. As part of the changes proposed, round-robin shuttle service would be discontinued, through A late night service would run to Far Rockaway, and service to Lefferts Boulevard and Rockaway Park would be provided by separate shuttle services with timed transfers to through A service. Rush hour local C service to Rockaway Park would be replaced by through A express service that ran every 20 minutes in the peak direction for a period of one hour and twenty minutes in rush hours to and from 59th Street–Columbus Circle. The initial proposal had these trips terminate at 34th Street, but this was changed to 59th Street following public comments. These five rush hour express trips were marketed as a "commuter rail style service," and special efforts were to be made to follow the arrival and departure times listed in the route's timetable, which was publicly distributed to riders. In addition, H service to Rockaway Park would be replaced by the Rockaway Park Shuttle, which would run between Broad Channel and Rockaway Park, and C service would be truncated to Euclid Avenue.
In April 1992, the MTA Board approved the proposed change to service in the Rockaways, which were expected to encourage ridership growth in the long term, and reduced NYCTA's annual operating budget by $20,000. The changes took effect on October 23, 1992 with modification. Late night shuttle service to Lefferts Boulevard would terminate at Euclid Avenue, not Rockaway Boulevard. Later on, the rush hour A trips to Rockaway Park were extended from 59th Street to Dyckman Street and Inwood–207th Street.
On May 29, 1994, A trains began running express from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. between 145th Street and Chambers Street/World Trade Center, with C trains making local stops. On May 2, 1999, the A became the express on the Fulton Street Line at all times except late nights, and C service was extended from World Trade Center to Euclid Avenue to provide local service along the line.
On January 23, 2005, a fire at the Chambers Street signal room crippled A and C service. Initial assessments suggested that it would take several years to restore normal service, but the damaged equipment was replaced with available spare parts, and normal service resumed on April 21.
A service was affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, due to extreme damage to the IND Rockaway Line. Trains that normally traveled to Far Rockaway or Rockaway Park terminated at Howard Beach–JFK Airport. Service to the Rockaways resumed on May 30, 2013. The Far Rockaway part of the route was served by the temporary free H shuttle that ran between Far Rockaway and Beach 90th Street via the connecting track at Hammels Wye.
As a result of a two-phase program of flood mitigation work along the Hammels Wye, between April 9 and May 18, 2018, limited rush hour A service to/from Rockaway Park was suspended.[b] The second phase, from July 1 to September 3, diverted all Far Rockaway-bound A trips to Rockaway Park, with Rockaway Park Shuttle trains being rerouted to the Far Rockaway branch through the southern leg of Hammels Wye.
From midday on March 29, 2020 to April 28, 2020, due to the suspension of C train service caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, A trains to Lefferts Boulevard ran local, while A trains to the Rockaways ran express.
|IND Eighth Avenue Line (full line)||Inwood–207th Street||168th Street||all|
|163rd Street–Amsterdam Avenue||Canal Street||express|
|Chambers Street||High Street||all|
|IND Fulton Street Line (full line)||Jay Street–MetroTech||Shepherd Avenue||express|
|Grant Avenue||Rockaway Boulevard||local|
|104th Street||Ozone Park–Lefferts Boulevard|
|IND Rockaway Line (full line)||Aqueduct Racetrack||Howard Beach–JFK Airport|
|Beach 67th Street||Far Rockaway–Mott Avenue||Most trains|
|Beach 90th Street||Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street||Limited service|
For a more detailed station listing, see the articles on the lines listed above.
For clarity, the A's branches are shown separately in the following table. The leftmost column shows the Lefferts Boulevard service; the second column shows the Far Rockaway service; and the third column shows the Rockaway Park service.
|Station service legend|
|Stops all times|
|Stops all times except late nights|
|Stops late nights only|
|Stops weekdays only|
|Stops rush hours only (limited service)|
|Stops rush hours/weekdays in the peak direction only|
|Time period details|
|Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act|
|↑||Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act|
in the indicated direction only
|Elevator access to mezzanine only|
|Stations||Subway transfers||Connections/Other Notes|
|Eighth Avenue Line|
|↑[d]||Inwood–207th Street||Bx12 Select Bus Service|
All northbound a.m. rush hour trains from Rockaway Park terminate at this station
|Dyckman Street||Some peak-direction rush hour trips to/from Brooklyn and Queens begin or end their runs at this station[e]|
|175th Street||George Washington Bridge Bus Station|
1 (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
|Some peak-direction rush hour trips to Brooklyn and Queens begin or end their runs at this station[e]|
|||||||163rd Street–Amsterdam Avenue|
|||||||155th Street||Bx6 Select Bus Service|
B D (IND Concourse Line)
|125th Street||B C D||M60 Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport|
|||||||Cathedral Parkway–110th Street|
|||||||86th Street||M86 Select Bus Service|
|||||||81st Street–Museum of Natural History||M79 Select Bus Service|
|59th Street–Columbus Circle||B C D
1 2 (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
|||||||50th Street||↓||E (IND Queens Boulevard Line)||Station is ADA-accessible in the southbound direction only.|
|42nd Street–Port Authority Bus Terminal||C E
1 2 3 (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
7 <7> (IRT Flushing Line)
N Q R W (BMT Broadway Line)
S (42nd Street Shuttle)
at Times Square–42nd Street
|Port Authority Bus Terminal|
M34A Select Bus Service
|34th Street–Penn Station||C E||M34/M34A Select Bus Service|
Amtrak, LIRR, NJ Transit at Pennsylvania Station
|||||||23rd Street||E||M23 Select Bus Service|
|14th Street||C E
L (BMT Canarsie Line)
|M14A/D Select Bus Service|
|West Fourth Street–Washington Square||C E
B D F <F> M (IND Sixth Avenue Line)
|PATH at 9th Street|
|Canal Street||C E|
|Chambers Street||C E
2 3 (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line at Park Place)
N R W (BMT Broadway Line at Cortlandt Street)
|PATH at World Trade Center|
2 3 (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)
4 5 (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
J Z (BMT Nassau Street Line)
|PATH at World Trade Center|
|High Street||C||⛴ NYC Ferry: East River and South Brooklyn routes (at Old Fulton Street and Furman Street)|
|Fulton Street Line|
|Jay Street–MetroTech||C F <F>
N R W (BMT Fourth Avenue Line)
G (IND Crosstown Line)
|||||||Franklin Avenue||S (BMT Franklin Avenue Line)|
|Nostrand Avenue||C||B44 Select Bus Service, LIRR Atlantic Branch at Nostrand Avenue|
|||||||Kingston–Throop Avenues||B15 bus to JFK Int'l Airport|
|Utica Avenue||C||B46 Select Bus Service|
J Z (BMT Jamaica Line)
L (BMT Canarsie Line)
|||||||Van Siclen Avenue|
|Euclid Avenue||C||Northern terminal for the late night Lefferts Boulevard Shuttle, one evening trip from Far Rockaway, and three morning trips to Far Rockaway|
|Rockaway Boulevard||Q52/Q53 Select Bus Service|
|Services to Lefferts Boulevard and The Rockaways split|
|Ozone Park–Lefferts Boulevard||Q10 bus to JFK Airport|
|N/A||↑||↑||Aqueduct Racetrack||↑||Station serves northbound trains only|
|Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue|
|Howard Beach–JFK Airport||AirTrain JFK|
|Broad Channel||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)||Q52/Q53 Select Bus Service|
|Services to Far Rockaway and Rockaway Park split|
|Far Rockaway Branch|
|N/A||N/A||Beach 67th Street||Q52 Select Bus Service|
|Beach 60th Street||Q52 Select Bus Service|
|Beach 44th Street|
|Beach 36th Street|
|Beach 25th Street|
|Far Rockaway–Mott Avenue||LIRR Far Rockaway Branch at Far Rockaway|
|Rockaway Park Branch (rush hour service only)|
|N/A||N/A||Beach 90th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)||Q52 Select Bus Service|
|Beach 98th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)||Q53 Select Bus Service|
|Beach 105th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)||Q53 Select Bus Service|
|Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)||Q53 Select Bus Service|
⛴ NYC Ferry: East River and South Brooklyn routes (on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108th Street)
In popular culture
"Take the 'A' Train" is a jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn, referring to the A train, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan, using the express tracks in Manhattan. It became the signature tune of Duke Ellington and often opened the shows of Ella Fitzgerald. Part of the significance of this is sociological; it connected Harlem and Bedford–Stuyvesant, the two largest African American neighborhoods in New York City.
- The separate shuttle service is identified on the late night map as , and in the schedule and on trains as .
- Limited rush-hour service that normally begins or ends at Rockaway Park began or ended at Euclid Avenue instead.
- There are several local A trains each late evening and early mornings which travel to and from Lefferts Boulevard.
- Northbound trains from Rockaway Park end at 207th Street, but southbound trains to Rockaway Park begin at either Dyckman or 168th Streets
- Trains terminate at this station during the a.m. rush and originate at this station during the p.m. rush
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