Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of New York City
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City is an umbrella organization that has several divisions, including MTA - New York City Bus, MTA - New York City Subway, MTA - Long Island Railroad, and MTA - Metro-North Railroad. The MTA also has jurisdiction over many, but not all, of the bridges and tunnels in New York City. This profile will focus on New York City's buses and subways.
The MTA operates 24 rapid transit lines and 280 bus routes serving 489 rapid transit stations. In 2010, over 3.2 billion rides were taken on MTA routes, with an average 10 million people riding on weekdays, 6 million on Saturdays, and just under 5 million on Sundays. New York has 6,380 subway cars and over 5,900 buses serving a New York City population of 8 million. Many bus routes operate 24 hours per day, and, unusually, all subway stations are served 24 hours per day. The 24 hour subway service is made possible for two reasons: first, most parts of the system have two sets of tracks, allowing one to be closed for maintenance while the other one continues to operate and two, instead of constant routine maintenance, maintenance requirements are saved up until they are large enough to require entire sections of lines to be closed on the weekend. The frequent closure of lines on the weekend has resulted in the creation of a special "Weekender" map that shows New Yorkers what service will actually be available on a given Saturday and Sunday.
Like most transit operators, the MTA relies on a variety of governmental funding sources as well as fares to pay for both operating and capital requirements (a href=" http://publictransport.about.com/od/Transit_Funding/a/The-Basics-Of-Transit-Funding.htm"> learn more about how transit is funded ). Operating funding sources are as follows:
- Passenger fares: MTA fares generate about 46% of the MTA operating budget.
- The Federal Transportation Administration's (FTA) CMAQ, JARC, and STP programs make up about 2% of the total operating budget; federal funds make up 29% of the capital budget.
- State funding makes up 40% of the operating budget and 3% of the capital budget.
- Toll revenue makes up about 12% of the operating budget.
- Other sources, such as advertising, make up the rest of the operating budget.
- Local funding makes up the remainder of the capital budget.
In addition to cash payments, the MTA currently features a magnetic-stripe pass called the Metrocard ( learn more about how transit fares are paid ). Metrocards come in two varieties - a pay-per-ride Metrocard, intended for occasional users, and a 7 or 30 day unlimited Metrocard. Adding more than $10 to a pay-per-ride Metrocard results in a 7% bonus. Unfortunately, at this time no day pass is available which means tourists are stuck with pay-per-use card. Consider buying the 7-day unlimited ride Metrocard if you expect to spend at least 3 days in New York and are planning to use transit extensively.
- Single ride $2.50 (no free transfer)
- Ride on Pay-Per-Use Metrocard: $2.25 with one free transfer.
- 7-Day Unlimited Ride Metrocard: $29
- 30-Day Unlimited Ride Metrocard: $104
The MTA is currently in the process of constructing three major capital projects. These are the extension of the 7 subway line to the far west side of Manhattan, an extension of Long Island Railroad tracks east from Penn to Grand Central Station, and the first phase of the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway line from 63rd St to 96th St. For more information about these projects, please refer to my page on New York transit capital projects .
Other Transit Services In New York City
In addition to MTA routes, including the commuter trains, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates PATH subway trains linking the lower west side of Manhattan with Newark and other nearby places in New Jersey. New Jersey Transit also operates buses and trains from New Jersey into downtown and midtown Manhattan. Finally, several private bus routes operate in the city of New York, especially in parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Although these routes use similar route number designations as regular MTA buses, they are not referenced on the MTA website.
The New York MTA carries about 1/3 of all transit passengers in the United States. Truly, one cannot imagine New York without it. Despite the essential nature of the operation, the MTA has had to live through a severe financial crisis in recent years. Even as new projects are constructed the existing system, if the large number of slow orders I experienced on the subway during a recent trip to the city are of any indication, is suffering from disrepair. Ease of getting around New York without a car: 10/10 . Click here to see pictures of New York's transit system in action .