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Aqueduct Racetrack is a station on the IND Rockaway Line of the New York City Subway. Located on the west side of Aqueduct Racetrack near Pitkin Avenue in South Ozone Park, Queens, it is served by northbound A and T trains at all times. 

HistoryEdit

The Rockaway Line was opened on August 26, 1880 by the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Railroad and would later be operated by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) as its Rockaway Beach Branch. Frequent fires on the line's wooden viaduct across Jamaica Bay between The Raunt and Broad Channel made the line a liability for the LIRR. After a fire on May 8, 1950 cut service altogether the bankrupt LIRR sought to sell or abandon the line altogether. The city purchased the southern portion of the line in 1952. The rebuilt IND Rockaway Line opened for subway service on June 26, 1956.

In 1955, the New York Racing Association chose to upgrade Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park in part because of its proximity to the Rockaway Beach Branch. As part of the modernization of the racetrack, the Racing Association built a station with ramps leading directly to the track and facilities that could handle racetrack crowds. Once the work was finished, it was handed over to the city. The new station was for northbound trains to Brooklyn and Manhattan, and it was built north of the existing Aqueduct station.In order to allow for the switching maneuvers required for southbound trains to stop at the station, major signal changes were made on the line. The single-platform station was built by Aqueduct Racetrack owners at the cost of $1 million. The Aqueduct Racetrack station opened on September 14, 1959, on the same date as the renovated Aqueduct Racetrack.

On the start of service in September 1959, extra-fare "Aqueduct Specials" (labeled as AX trains) ran nonstop from the lower level of the 42nd Street–Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan until it crossed over to the northbound platform to discharge passengers at the racetrack. A trial run took place on June 2, 1959, with the running time to the track being about 29 minutes. Transit officials said that the actual time of the specials would be thirty minutes at a minimum as the pace of the train was too swift. Aboard the train were 200 members of the National Association of State Racing Commissioners.The fare was initially 50 cents. Trains made all express stops except Chambers Street, High Street, Nostrand Avenue, and all stations between Euclid Avenue and the Racetrack. On September 22, 1959, the New York City Transit Authority added five "Daily Double" trains on weekdays and eight on Saturdays, doubling the original number of trains. The Aqueduct Special reduced travel time between Manhattan and the racetrack to 35 minutes. Return trips would operate on Saturdays and holidays. Increased service was provided during the 1960 spring meeting with Saturday and holiday service. During its first year, the service carried 341,000 riders. During the 1960s the extra fare was collected at special turnstiles at the three stations served by the special. Larger tokens were used. On July 5, 1966, the fare on the Aqueduct Special was raised to 75 cents.The fare was raised to $1 on January 4, 1970.The fare was raised from a $1 to $1.50 in February 1972. Later on the fare was lowered back to $1.The fare was raised back to $1.50 on June 28, 1980.

Beginning on April 15, 1978, during racing season one train ran from 57th Street on the IND Sixth Avenue Line to Aqueduct Racetrack, leaving 57th Street at 11 A.M. and arriving at Aqueduct at 11:35 AM. The train left for the return trip after the final race.

In September 1978, the AX began alternative service to 57th Street and made all express stops on 6th Avenue. The AX stopped operation to Aqueduct Racetrack in October 1981, and only ran between 57th Street/42nd Street. At the time of their discontinuance the fare was $3, and was shorty after raised to $5. Service was replaced by the A.

After May 1985, the remaining AX service was merged into the A and V lines due to single letter renaming and low ridership after the increased fare. Between December 1991 and March 1992, the Aqueduct Racetrack station was closed throughout the day, not reopening until the summer of 1997. The remaining service along the line would only be scheduled to stop on race days between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., though some trains stopped here regardless of the time of day. In the summer of 1997 the station became one of the first in the system to have Metrocard-only High Entrance/Exit Turnstiles.

On April 28, 2011, the station was closed and underwent a $15 million renovation. This renovation was sponsored by the Resorts World Casino (or "Racino"), which had opened at the racetrack in 2011 and wanted to create a direct connection from the station to the casino. The station was scheduled to reopen in early 2012, but was delayed. The renovation added new staircases to street level, an enclosed passageway between the station and casino, and an elevator from the street to platform level to make the station ADA-accessible. The station reopened on August 13, 2013, and now operates 24 hours a day. In 2013, there was a proposal to rename this station to Aqueduct–Resorts World Casino and to add a platform for Rockaway-bound trains. As of July 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has withheld approvals to construct a southbound platform.

Station layoutEdit

P
Platform level
Fare control Entrances/Exits
(elevator to street and passageway to Resorts World Casino)
Side platform, doors will open on the right; accessable
Northbound local A toward Inwood–207th Street (Rockaway Boulevard)
T toward Broadway-125th Street (Rockaway Boulevard)
Northbound express Trackbed
Southbound express Trackbed
Southbound local A and T trains do not stop here (Aqueduct-North Conduit Avenue)
G Street Level Exit/Entrance to Aqueduct Racetrack; street passageway to Aqueduct-North Conduit Avenue and Pitkin Avenue

Located on an embankment, the station has four tracks with only the two outer ones in revenue service. The two center express tracks have been disconnected from the line and have permanently been removed from service. North of this station, a portion of the southbound express track connects with the southbound local track at its north end, and ends at a bumper block at its southern end. This section of track can be used for revenue service or work train layups, but this use has been made completely redundant because of the nearby Pitkin Yard serving as the primary layup yard instead.

Unique to the New York City Subway, the New York City Subway map shows that this is the only station that exclusively serves trains in one direction (excluding stations being renovated at the time). The station has only one platform, located on the northbound side, with one exit leading directly to Aqueduct Racetrack. Thus, it can only be served by northbound trains heading toward Brooklyn and Manhattan. Southbound trains heading toward the Rockaways are unable to stop at the station, and as a result, it is not directly accessible from Manhattan and Brooklyn. However, in the past, southbound trains would terminate at this station by using a crossover located to the north of the station. This station was originally advertised as "open on racing days", but some trains stopped here regardless of the time of day; riders could not always exit the station, depending on whether the racetrack was open.

ExitsEdit

This station has four High Entrance/Exit Turnstiles and several emergency exit gates (one of which is equipped with an AutoGate MetroCard reader), but no token booth or MetroCard Vending Machines. Although MetroCards can technically be purchased at any subway station in the system, the MTA considers the station to be linked with Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue located approximately 1,500 feet (460 m) to the south, which has a full-time token booth and MetroCard machines. Two wide staircases and the elevator lead down from platform level to the parking lots in front of the racetrack. A sidewalk on the western side of Aqueduct Road leads south from Aqueduct Racetrack to the North Conduit Avenue station; the main fare control area is located at the south end of that station at North Conduit Avenue. At the north end of the passageway at Pitkin Avenue is a gate which, when open, allows access between the station and racetrack and the local community. The glass-enclosed bridge, called the "SkyBridge", is temperature-controlled and provides another ADA-accessible entrance into the station.

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