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Central Park West-8 Avenue-Fulton Express
New York City Subway
Central Park West-8 Avenue
Fulton Express

on the SubwayNut
·Inwood-207 Street
·Dyckman St
·190 Street
·181 Street
·175 Street-GWB Bus Station
·168 St-Washington Heights
·163 St-Amsterdam Av
·155 Street
·145 Street
·135 Street
·125 Street
·116 Street
·110 St-Cathedral Pkwy
·103 Street
·96 Street
·86 Street
·81 St-Museum of Natural History
·72 Street
·59 St-Columbus Circle
·50 Street: Downtown|Uptown
·42 St-Port Authority Bus Terminal
·34 St-Penn Station
·23 Street
·14 Street
·West 4 St-Washington Sq
·Spring St
·Canal St
·Chambers St
·Fulton St
Cranberry Tubes
·High St-Brooklyn Bridge
·Jay St-MetroTech
·Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts.
·Lafayette Av
·Clinton-Washigton Avs
·Franklin Av
·Nostrand Av
·Kingston-Throop Avs
·Utica Av
·Ralph Av
·Rockaway Av
·Broadway Junction
·Liberty Av
·Van Siclen Av
·Shepherd Av
·Euclid Av
·Grant Av
·80 St-Hudson St
·88 St-Boyd Av
·Rockaway Blvd
Except Late Nights
(Use Shuttle)
Jamaica Bay:
North Channel Swing Bridge
·Broad Channel
Beach Channel Swing Bridge
5 rush hour, round-trips only
Service at All Times

The A train is the longest individual subway line on the New York City Subway at 32.39 miles, providing the longest one seat ride in the Subway System. This ride is longer than multiple LIRR branches when measured from Penn Station, including all of the branches that don’t reach Suffolk County other than the Oyster Bay Branch (which is nearly the same at 32.9 miles), this includes the Far Rockaway Branch that terminates in Queens a few blocks from the end of the A train at Far Rockaway heading to Penn Station via Nassau County. The A train is the longest route of any of “legacy” pre-World War II subway systems in the United States (like Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia).

The A train is the only subway line to provide the only subway service to multiple branches. A trains run from 207 Street-Manhattan ant to Far Rockaway via Howard Beach-JFK Airport at all times. Roughly half of all trains terminate at Lefferts Blvd, except during late nights when special A or S Shuttle trains operate connecting at Euclid Avenue.

The A train has a third branch to Rockaway Park with 5 AM rush hour trips to Manhattan in the morning rush hours, and 5 PM trims from Manhattan in the evening rush hour. These were listed on the subway map as <A> trains but this bullet never appeared on subway trains or regular station signs. During peak direction rush hours (from Brooklyn & Queens) some A trains terminate at 168 Street and Dyckman Street for easier access to the 207 Street yard since the simple two track 207 Street terminal can’t accommodate the higher frequency of trains.

A trains run express in both Brooklyn and Manhattan except late nights (when C trains are operating) running local overnight when C train service is suspended.

The bifurcated nature of the A train in Queens means that stations on the Lefferts and Rockaways branches receive the lowest frequency of any subway service with trains coming every 15 to 20 minutes outside of peak direction rush hours. This low frequency includes the connection to the AirTrain into JFK Airport at the Howard Beach Station. Finally, the lack of clear announcements on older A subway trains means that there are a surprising number of travelers trying to get to JFK Airport who accidently end up at 103 Street, 111 Street, or Lefferts Blvd. My recommendation if this happens to you is to just stay on the A train to Lefferts Blvd and transfer to the very frequent Q10 bus that arrives at the Lefferts Blvd AirTrain station in about 15 minutes. Since the Lefferts Blvd AirTrain station is “within the airport” this option is also much cheaper with the AirTrain being free and avoids the $8.50 (as of March 2024) fee. This option is definitely more reliable and generally faster than trying to double-back to a Far Rockaway-bound train at Lefferts Blvd since the frequency of the two A train branches means you’ll be waiting up to 15 minutes for each transfer.

The long nature of the A train includes two of the longest stretches of subway track without stops. The longest stretch of the A train without stations is 3.5 miles between Howard Beach and Broad Channel as trains cross over Jamaica Bay on multiple swing bridges to the Rockaways. This trip takes 7 minutes. The A train also has a similar 3.5-mile Express stretch between stations as it skips 7 stations running non-stop from 125 Street in Harlem to 59 Street in Manhattan, with 8 minutes scheduled between these stations. This express stretch probably inspired Billy Strayhorn to compose the Jazz standard “Take the ‘A’ Train” that Duke Ellington made famous.

The A train was also the first subway line to receive a letter designation as it was the first route of the New York City-owned IND to open in 1932. Opening day was the length of Manhattan from 207 Street to Chambers Street on what was known as the 8 Avenue subway. Both A Express trains (like today) and AA local trains operated. Separately operated and signed AA local trains ended in 1985 with the retirement of double letters. The C train fully became the AA train in 1998 (see my C train page for the complex history of providing local service on the 8th Avenue Line before then). Express service has always been provided in Manhattan except during late nights (although until 1977 some other local service in Manhattan ran overnight allowing the A to run express in Manhattan at all times). Express service in Brooklyn has a more complex history and only ran during rush hours, trains ran local other times, until 1988 when Midday service was added, with evening and weekend service not coming until 1999 when C trains were extended to Euclid Avenue at all times.

Historically the A train has two different histories. The sections in Manhattan and Brooklyn are fully underground built as some of the last subway lines in New York City, while the above-ground portion of the line in Queens took over a former elevated line built by the BMT and the former LIRR Rockaway Branch. A brief history is that after IND service was extended to Brooklyn in 1933, A trains provided the first service to Church Avenue from 1932 until 1936, when the Fulton Street subway first opened to Rockaway Avenue, with trains rerouted to under Fulton Street as they operate to this day. The Fulton Street subway was extended to Broadway-East New York in 1946 followed by Euclid Avenue in 1948.

Service to Queens began on April 29, 1956 with the building of the Grant Avenue subway station and the new tunnel portal and track connection to the former BMT Liberty Avenue elevated that first opened in 1925. The Rockaways extension opened over the former tracks of the Long Island Railroad that were rebuilt to subway specifications two months later on June 28, 1956. This project included replacing the Rockaway swing bridges with steel structures after the original bridges burned down. Although mixture of rush our E trains and shuttle trains to Euclid Avenue provided initial service until September 1956, with service to the Rockaways being quite complicated (and A trains starting to alternate service between Lefferts Blvd and Far Rockaway) until the current service pattern to the Rockaways began in 1992.

For me, the A train will always be part of my childhood, I grew up on it with a 40-minute commute to and from school from 4th grade to 12th grade (my first attempt at a blog a few years I started this website in 2003 when I was in 8th grade was called A Train Adventures). I recon I’ve spent at least 3 months of my life (plus any other times I left my childhood neighborhood) riding the A train, with lots of memories of the R32s, R38s, and R44s. This time I spent often at the front window when I got an “old” A train, or tucking my head up against the glass partition by the door of the “new” R44 A trains to get a nap in. The current R46s that still provide some A train service and are visually quite similar don’t include this glass partition by the door. When I board an R46 today I miss the R44s and getting “the glass” When I started college and was living on campus in dorms, I realized I needed to sleep more overnight because I no longer had my 40 minute naps on the A train!

Nearly Every type of B Division Subway Car on the A train:

Home<New York<NYC Subway<
Central Park West-8 Avenue-Fulton Express
NYC Subway
on the SubwayNut

Last Updated: April 5, 2023
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