Re: How was it to ride the subway lines in the 60's and 70's? (93250)

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Posted by Steve B-8AVEXP on Mon Feb 7 11:19:16 2000, in response to Re: How was it to ride the subway lines in the 60's and 70's?,
posted by Wayne-MrSlantR40 on Mon Feb 7 00:27:39 2000.

As most of you know by now, my love affair with the NY subway began on July 21, 1965. An N train of shiny, spanking new R-32s took us from Brooklyn to 34th St. in Manhattan, where we ascended to the observation deck on the Empire State Building. IIRC, it was a lot cooler on the 86th floor than on street level.

Two years later, we moved to New Jersey and I became immersed in the subway. In 1967, the fare was 20 cents. I rode on the IND for the first time on April 30, and on the IRT on August 9. The R-10s, in their racy teal-and-white paint scheme, still ruled supreme on the A line, while the R-1/9s moaned, groaned, and grunted on the rest of the IND routes. The newest kid on the block, the R-38s, were serving the F line primarily, as well as the E. On the BMT, the R-27s, R-30s, and R-32s were serving the Southern Division while the R-16s and remaining BMT standards were plying the rails on the Eastern Division. T trains still ran during rush hours and daytime hours on Saturdays. On July 20 of that year, there were several firsts: first ride on the R-10s all the way out to East New York, followed by my first ride on the BMT standards on the Canarsie. My first impression? Yechhhh!! The cars were still clean back then, and even the R-10s weren't intolerably loud. You would even find backlit side destination signs on the R-1/9s, a feature which was disappearing rapidly. Sadly, those venerable cars were no longer being cared for by then. This was all before the Chrystie St. connection opened, which resulted in equipment being shifted around considerably. Two constants remained: the BMT standards remained on the Eastern Division while the R-10s stayed put on the A.

That fall, I became a regular Saturday commuter, making a weekly trip by bus from our Pompton Plains home to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, followed by a trip on an A (at my insistance) to 14th St. and on the Canarsie to Lorimer St. It was a ritual which would continue for three years. The R-10s remained a fixture on the A, while on the Canarsie, the BMT standards would give way to relocated R-7s and R-9s, and in 1969, an occasional train of R-42s. During that time, the slant R-40s began to appear on the E and F lines, with no marker lights or destination signs on the bulkheads. In place of all that was a huge, color-coded letter. In January of 1970, the subway fare rose to 30 cents, and a quarter-sized token was introduced.

My visits to the city were curtailed during the early and mid-70s to an occasional trip to Shea Stadium to see the Mets and an all-day excursion on December 27, 1973. I didn't set foot on the subway at all during 1974 and 1975. On July 28, 1976, after a 2 1/2-year absence, I took a brief subway ride once again, first on a B train of R-32s from Rockefeller Center to 59th St., then on an A train of 75-footers to 42nd St. It marked the first time I spotted the newcomers; not sure if they were R-44s or R-46s. I do recall thinking, it's good to be back. By 1977, I found myself in the city once a month or so. My sister enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and in early 1978 I would go down every few weeks to see her, exploring the IRT division in the process. By this time, the graffiti epidemic had struck, bringing a repulsive appearance to every car in the system. Two other fare increases occurred during the decade: from 30 to 35 cents in 1971, and then 50 cents in 1975. The same token was retained until the fare rose once again to 60 cents in 1980. By then, the R-46s were plagued with cracked trucks, and as a consequence, the B division fleet was being shuffled around in much the same manner as a Chinese fire drill. I left for Colorado in September of 1980, and thus missed the darkest hours of the subway system. It wasn't until October of 1984 that I would return to the city and ride on the subway again.

From 1968 to 1970, if we had time before our bus was scheduled to leave Port Authority, I would take an express joyride up CPW on an A train. There was no better stretch anywhere else. On one occasion, a D train of R-4s pulled into 34th St. - the last prewar D train I ever saw - and I stayed on it until we got to 125th St. What a treat: no headlights, bull and pinion gears wailing away as we whipped past those seven local stops. I wished there had been enough time to take that train all the way to 205th St.; it was with great reluctance that I got off at 125th St.


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