The Nation's Premier Urban Rail System

Of all the nation's urban transit systems, Metropolitan Transportation Authority's New York City Subway is by far the most extensive, at about 230 route miles.  It has the most number of lines (about 25),  and stations (over 460).  It's the busiest, at about 1.5 billion passengers a year.  Rolling stock includes about 5,800 subway cars.  Four of the city's five boroughs are served by the main subway system. 

The subway's now-unified network consists of three historical components.  The former IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) and BMT (Brooklyn Manhattan Transit) Divisions started out under private ownership.  New York City acquired both companies in 1940.  By then the city had already undertaken construction of most of the IND Division (Independent System).  The IRT, BMT and IND designations remained in official use for the better part of three decades after all the lines were under municipal ownership.  Operation was first under the Board of Transportation, and then was long handled by the New York City Transit Authority. 

Metropolitan Transit Authority is an agency of the State of New York, and dates to the dark transit days of the early 1980s.  Other MTA divisions  run the Staten Island Railway (which serves the fifth borough), commuter rail on Long Island and to the north, and various bus lines.

In this photo lines from the former IRT and BMT come adjacent to each other to allow for cross-platform transfer at Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City.  The upper level is for outbound traffic, and a train heading to Astoria is in view heading off to the left.  The lower level is for Manhattan-bound traffic, and a  train from Flushing is approaching the station.   After three more stops in Queens (on a route which allows for some great views of Amtrak's yards and of the city skyline before the subway into the Steinway Tunnels takes over) it will head under the East River and into Manhattan.