Transportation Deployment Casebook/Ridership on New York City Subway.

The ModelEdit


The data used for the model was annual ridership in New York’s subway system from 1901- 1998. The data came from the Metropolitian Transit Agency (MTA). Due to the length of the mode timeline there were issues finding a line to fit the data. Attempting to capture the two periods two lines were chosen. The first line is a good representation of the growth cycle but the second was not a good fit. There is a leveling off period after the growth and decline but then there are some spikes at later periods. It is possible ridership variations in the mature stage are being effected by gas prices, economic conditions, and other factors causing the ridership to fluctuate.



SUMMARY OUTPUT Part 1- Ridership 1901-1940 K Value= 4000

Regression Statistics Multiple R 0.95033892 R Square 0.903144064 Adjusted R Square 0.900595223 Standard Error 0.257928713 Observations 40

ANOVA df SS MS F Significance F Regression 1 23.57294093 23.57294093 354.3352707 7.35452E-21 Residual 38 2.528034406 0.066527221 Total 39 26.10097534

Coefficients Standard Error t Stat P-value Lower 95% Upper 95% Lower 95.0% Upper 95.0% Intercept -128.6379718 6.785131105 -18.95880416 5.75016E-21 -142.3737516 -114.902192 -142.3737516 -114.902192 b 0.066503313 0.003532939 18.82379533 7.35452E-21 0.059351253 0.073655373 0.059351253 0.073655373

SUMMARY OUTPUT Ridership Pt. 2 1941- 1998 K Value=2100

Regression Statistics Multiple R 0.795541548 R Square 0.632886355 Adjusted R Square 0.626330755 Standard Error 0.574283002 Observations 58

ANOVA df SS MS F Significance F Regression 1 31.83942072 31.83942072 96.54132013 8.61818E-14 Residual 56 18.46885415 0.329800967 Total 57 50.30827487

Coefficients Standard Error t Stat P-value Lower 95% Upper 95% Lower 95.0% Upper 95.0% Intercept 87.82632524 8.871781316 9.899514214 6.58456E-14 70.05401166 105.5986388 70.05401166 105.5986388 b -0.044258406 0.004504423 -9.825544266 8.61818E-14 -0.05328185 -0.035234963 -0.05328185 -0.035234963


19th century New York City- Before the SubwayEdit

During the 19th century New York City was quickly becoming a very large and overcrowded city. Immigration from Europe brought a steady flow of new people into the area causing the population to skyrocket during this time. With the massive growth came larger problems from the flow of immigrants into the city. Housing, overcrowding, and sanitation were growing challenges for New York, especially in the neighborhoods that housed tenements for the new immigrants.

Available Modes of Transport

The large number of immigrants moving into the city also created congestion on New York’s multi-modal roads. At that time “Manhattan’s roads were packed with pedestrians, horses, wagons, omnibuses, and the most common form of public transit, horsecars moving over rails in streets” (Derrick, 2001). So we can see that at this time there were a large number of people that needed to move around the city and a variety of rather inefficient ways to do so. The modes listed above were not practical for the overcrowded tenement districts. They were all slow modes of transport, they were competing for space, and each mode had a very limited carry capacity.


The above quote describing horsecars as the most popular mode is important to note. Public health and sanitation were important issues at that time and having to clean up after the horsecars would not have been helping the problem. Since none of these forms of transport were very efficient there was also no reason for those living in the crowded area to move because it would be very difficult to travel to and from work. The horsecar system was overcrowded enough that it was not worth pushing forward. Instead of expanding that system reformers began to look to new ways to transport people (Derrick 2001).

Reformers find housing solutions in Rapid Transit developmentEdit

Since there was no good way to get further than a couple miles it made sense to look for ways to move people longer distances so they could spread out the housing. Early housing reformers in New York were looking for solutions to the growing housing problem. Clearly the United States did not want to limit immigration when it was trying to grow but New York City was having a difficult time with the population growth. In the 1860’s reformers began to believe that if public transit improved people who had the means could move out of the city. While reformers began to advocate for improving transit, “ the vision of rapid transit as a means to improve the daily lives of working-class families and protect public health and safety was not to be achieved for more than fifty years” (Derrick 2001). It is not surprising that a project of this scale would take so long to come to fulfillment.

Main MarketsEdit

The first few yearsEdit

When reformers first thought of improving transit to move people it was related to issues of overcrowding. The subway was first created to help move the population around so the tenements would not be so crowded. Prior to the subway workers had to live within walking or easy travel distance so that they could easily get to work. When the first line opened it carried “short-haul” passengers around Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn and was very popular right from the beginning (Derrick 2001).


The subway continues to be a large part of the public transit networks. The subway provides 24 hour a day service to the boroughs it serves. According to the MTA’s fugures it has the largest rolling stock number in the world. All this means that the market for the subway is quite large. Commuters, tourists, and others enjoy the services provided by MTA and that is why they continue to expand. (MTA)


The first subway to be operated electric opened in the 1890’s in London. At this time technology was consistently improving in all manners and New York was quick to research all the new technologies available. Electricity and developments in motors, braking, and other advances were quickly improving the efficiency and safety of subway. (Derrick 2001). They needed the speeds to be improving and technology to be advancing to make the large project worth their while. At the time it was very important technologies to build the tunnels and operate railways were consistently improving. New York City had many technological and engineering issues they had to work through while completing this project.

Subway CarsEdit

The New York City subway designers had a specific list of considerations when searching for the perfect vehicle to ride on the underground railway. These included:

“High schedule speeds with frequent stops. Maximum carrying capacity for the subway, especially at times of rush hours, morning and evening. Maximum strength combined with smallest permissible weight. Adoption of all precautions calculated to reduce possibility of damage from either the electric circuit or from collisions. The clearance and length of the local station platforms limited the length of trains, and tunnel clearances the length and width and height of the cars.”(Fordham University 1991).

After looking at the different options available to them by visiting other railways in the U.S. and overseas they decided upon a car model that would work for their needs and quickly put it into a testing period on a different rail line. Some of the specialized features included steel under frames, emergency brakes, and safety features for any electrical malfunctions that might occur. Safety and efficiency were definitely the driving goals in the design and building of these cars.

Tunneling TechnologyEdit

Another technological feat for this project was the development of the tunnels for the railway. While this was not the first underground subway in the world, London was before them, there was still a lot of work to be put into tunnels. Much of the route already had a considerable amount of stuff under the roadway that needed to be worked around. Due to the placement of the tunnel buildings, pipes and ducts, and more had to be redone to successfully build the tunnels (Fordham University 1991) They were also trying to cause as little disruption as possible to the roads and piping and therefore kept learning about and improving on construction practices while building.


As New York was rapidly growing from immigration movement in the 19th century there was a significant market for those trying to move out of the tenement slums. Overcrowding in the neighborhoods and on the current public transit systems made it so that they needed to create rapid transit much earlier than they did. By the time the Subway was first opened in the early 1900’s the market they had built for was ready to move outward and use the new form of transit. While the opening was able to allow people to move outward from the densest area it did not stop the continued rise in New York’s population. New York at that time had the most crowded population in the world. People were still immigrating from Europe and rural areas and therefore as soon as the subway opened it was already overcrowded and in need of expansion. (Derrick 2001)

Creation of Interborough Rapid TransitEdit

When the idea of the subway was first considered there were many groups interested in the policy and politics of the line development. One of the largest barriers to construction was the financial cost of the project. The elevated lines in use nearby were nowhere as costly to build as the estimated construction costs that would be needed to develop the subway. There were many different opinions on who should own, who should pay, who is in charge, etc. In the late 1890’s with some help of a private investor the money and approval finally came through. It was at that time that the Interborough Rapid Transit Company was created to be in charge of the line. (Derrick 2001)

Line ExpansionEdit

Before the first lines were even completed they were already arguing about how to expand the system to reach a larger market and further lessen congestion. According to Derrick, “ How to proceed with the expanding rapid transit network became the biggest political issue in New York during the 1905 and 1909 municipal elections” ( Derrick 2001). At the time there was rapid transit being developed in Brooklyn and then the Manhattan to Bronx line. The Rapid Transit Board wanted to develop a plan that could be implemented as resources became available for the project. The main goal of all lines was to lessen overcrowding in the tenement neighborhoods. There was also a desire to connect the Brookln Rapid Transit Company (BRT) lines with the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) lines.

The Subway in the 2000sEdit

Declining RevenueEdit

For as long as the Subway has been around there have been issues arising over how to pay for it. During the spring of 2008 Metropolitan Transit Agency (MTA) raised fares so they could make needed improvements to the subway. Shortly after announcing the fare increase would go to specific announced improvements they had to take it back because the finances of the agency were not stable enough to go ahead with the plans. (Neuman 2008) At that time the city was experiencing declining income from the recession and feeling the effect that the layoffs were having on the budget. One way proposed to pay for the improvements was through a congestion pricing policy being enacted in New York. As the New York Times article writes, there was a negative reaction to this idea and a congestion-pricing plan was not pursued past the planning stage.

Line expansionsEdit

In the mid 2000’s, the MTA looked at and began plans for expanding several lines that were reaching their limit of passenger carrying capacity. The Second Ave Subway expansion has been in the process of being done for several years. The project is expensive but will allow a much higher volume of passengers. The project even before construction was awarded an Environmental Protection Agency award for the sustainability of the design. It will use some newer techniques to make the expansion less damaging to the environment and have lower energy costs. (Binns 2004) Environmental impact is important in an expansion of this size and therefore should be seen favorably by transit riders and those concerned with the environment. They might save money by the design more cost effective but they are also benefiting by the positive press associated with green design efforts.

Improving TechnologyEdit

Going off of the green design in the planning of the expansions we might add that New York has also experimented with the use of solar panels on some station roofs. “It will provide a maximum of 65 percent of the station’s electricity during sunny summer days and an average of 15 percent over the course of a year” (Hansen 2005). That station, which operates 24 hours a day, can save money and promote the environment to try and attract visitors to that station. MTA has also tried to make other improvements to make riding the subway easier and more enjoyable to ride. According to the MTA webpage 90% of trips made on the subway now are made with the MetroCard. The card is used as a stored value card that riders can use to ride subways or buses. Also in recent years there have been improvements so that “All subway cars and buses are air-conditioned and either new, remanufactured, or overhauled” (MTA) The improving technology and upgrades to the stations and trains will hopefully continue to improve ridership.


Derrick, Peter (2001) Tunneling to the Future: The story of the great subway expansion that saved New York. New York: New York University Press.

Binns, Jessica (2005) Big Apple Prepares for New Subway Line. Civil Engineering, May Issue, pp. 28-29

Hansen, Brett (2004) Roof Brings Solar Power to New York Transit Station. Civil Engineering, November Issue, pp. 28-29

Interborough Rapid Transit 1904 (republished 1991) The New York City Subway Its Construction and Equipment. New York: Fordham University Publishing.

Neuman, William (March 25, 2008) “M.T.A. Delays Improvements, Citing Drop in Real Estate Sales Taxes” Retrieved from

Retrieved October 12, 2011 MTA webpage