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 Ozone Park, Queens, making express stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn and all stops in Queens; limited rush hour service originates and terminates at Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park, Queens instead of Far Rockaway or Lefferts Boulevard. Night service operates only between 207th Street and Far Rockaway, making all stops along its entire route; during this time, a shuttle train (the Lefferts Boulevard Shuttle) operates between Rockaway Boulevard and Lefferts Boulevard.
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 C were the first services on the IND Eighth Avenue Line when it opened on September 10, 1932. The A ran express between 207th Street and Chambers Street, adjacent to the Hudson Terminal (today's World Trade Center station), and the C was a local between 168th Street and Hudson Terminal. During nights, the C did not run and the A made all stops along the line.
The A was extended to Jay Street – Borough Hall on February 1, 1933, when the Cranberry Street Tunnel to Brooklyn opened.
On April 9, 1936, the IND Fulton Street Line was opened to Rockaway Avenue. The 1936 completion 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, the line was extended to Broadway – East New York (now Broadway Junction).
On November 28, 1948, the line, along with the C, was extended to Euclid Avenue. Express service in Brooklyn began on the A during daytime hours, while the daytime-only C provided local service. At night, the A made all stops along the Fulton Street Line like on the Eighth Avenue Line.
On April 29, 1956, Grant Avenue was opened, and the line was extended over the IND Liberty Avenue Line to Lefferts Boulevard.
Two months later, on June 28, 1956, the former Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Line was rebuilt to subway specifications, and service began to Rockaway Park and Wavecrest (Beach 25th Street). Alternating trains began terminating at Lefferts Boulevard and Rockaway Park, with rush hour-peak direction only service to Wavecrest. A shuttle train operated at all times between Wavecrest and Broad Channel, where it connected with the A. At night, a shuttle train also operated between Broadway Junction and Lefferts Boulevard, allowing all A trains to go to Rockaway Park during that timeframe.
On January 16, 1958, a new terminal was created at Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue, and the through connection to the Long Island Rail Road's Far Rockaway station was severed. Alternating trains began terminating at Far Rockaway, with rush hour-peak direction only service to Rockaway Park instead, due to ridership along the Rockaway Park branch deemed too low for full-time direct through service. The shuttle began operating between Rockaway Park and Broad Channel from then on.
In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, C service was suspended until September 24, 2001. Local service along Central Park West was replaced by the A and D, and the E was extended from Canal Street to Euclid Avenue during daytime hours, replacing C service in Brooklyn.
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.
On June 28, 2010, the night-time Lefferts Boulevard shuttle train was cut back to Rockaway Boulevard, where it short turns on the middle track at that station. It was precisely done as part of the MTA's financial crisis, to eliminate the need to relay shuttle trains on the express tracks north of Broadway Junction or without the need to short turn the shuttle on the southbound express track at that station which forces passengers who want to continue heading towards Manhattan to have to walk upstairs and crossover.
A service was affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 due to extreme damage to the IND Rockaway Line. Trains that normally traveled to the Rockaways 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.
In popular culture Edit
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 black neighborhoods in New York City.