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The 42nd Street Shuttle is a New York City Subway shuttle train service that operates in Manhattan. Part of a former Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) line, it is sometimes referred to as the Grand Central / Times Square Shuttle, since these are the only two stations served by the shuttle. It runs at all times except nights, connecting Times Square to Grand Central under 42nd Street. It is the shortest regular service in the system, running about 3,000 feet (910 m) in under two minutes.

The 42nd Street Shuttle is part of the A Division of New York City Transit, and the tracks that it uses opened in 1904 as part of the first subway in the city. In order to distinguish it from the other shuttles in the system, NYCT Rapid Transit Operations internally refers to it as the 0 (zero). Its route bullet is colored dark slate like all the other shuttle services.

History Edit

The subway through which the shuttle runs was opened on October 27, 1904, the first day of subway service in Manhattan. It served as part of the IRT mainline until August 1, 1918, when the Dual Contracts' "H system" was put into service, with through trains over the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line, and only shuttle trains under 42nd Street.

The southbound express track on the four-track line was closed and new platforms were built, as the old station at Times Square had been local-only. However, the new arrangement turned out to be inadequate, and the shuttle was closed on midnight between August 3–4 for expansion of the platforms. The shuttle reopened on September 28, 1918, with improved passageways and platforms. On the walls of the stations, black bands (at Times Square) and green bands (at Grand Central) were painted to guide passengers to the shuttle platforms. As part of a demonstration for automation, the shuttle was briefly automated from 1959 to 1964 on Track 4. A severe fire at the Grand Central station destroyed the demonstration train and manual operation had been restored since.

The shuttle ran at all times until September 10, 1995. Since then, it has run at all times except nights, where passengers must use the 7 train. When the shuttle is closed, the area is sometimes used for movie and TV filming. The French Connection and King of New York, among many other titles, were filmed on the 42nd Street shuttle.

As part of the 2015–2019 MTA Capital Program, the 42nd Street Shuttle will become ADA accessible, and the shuttle will be reconfigured from three tracks to two tracks, and the trains will become six cars long. The whole project will cost $235.41 million. The Times Square shuttle platform will be extended to allow for a second point of entry, this one being at Sixth Avenue, with a connection to the IND Sixth Avenue Line. The Times Square station will be rehabilitated with congestion mitigation measures. A wider stairway would be installed from the shuttle mezzanine to street level, a new control area would be installed at the bottom of the stairway, and 21 columns would be removed. The cost of this part of the project is $28.93 million.

Track connections to the rest of the system Edit

Of the four shuttle tracks, only three are in use, the former southbound express track space being used for platform space at each terminal. The former southbound local track is now Shuttle Track 1. Track 2 no longer exists, but the trackbed of Track 2 can be seen inside the tunnel from passing trains on Tracks 1 and 3. The former northbound express track is Track 3, and the former northbound local track is Track 4.

Tracks 1 and 3 are connected to each other and to the Lexington Avenue Line's southbound local track south of Grand Central station. Track 4 connects to the Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line's northbound local track north of Times Square station. There is no connection between tracks 1 and 3 on the one hand, and track 4 on the other; therefore, it is now physically impossible for a train to go from the IRT Lexington Avenue Line through to the IRT Seventh Avenue Line or vice versa by using the shuttle tracks.

Operation Edit

Service Time period Section of line
All except nights Nights
S service no service entire line

In service, each of the shuttle tracks in operation at any given time is independent of the other; e.g., the train on track 1 simply runs back and forth on track 1, and there is no switching involved in reversing at each terminal. To provide for quick turnaround of the shuttle trains, there is an operator at each end of the train. Depending on which direction the train is traveling the operators swap jobs when the train gets to one end; one acts as the operator in the front and the other acts as conductor in the rear.

It is common for shuttle trains to be adorned with excessive advertising. Since 2008, the MTA has tested full-train advertisements on 42nd Street Shuttle rolling stock. While most advertisements are well received, a few advertisements—such as one for the TV show The Man in the High Castle, which featured a Nazi flag—have been controversial.

Stations Edit

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