The A Eighth Avenue Express is a rapid transit service of the New York City Subway. It is colored blue on route signs, station signs, and the official subway map, since it runs on the IND Eighth Avenue Line through Manhattan. It is the longest one-seat ride in the subway system: over 31 miles (50 km) from 207th Street in Inwood, Manhattan, to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, Queens.
The A service operates at all times. The usual service pattern is from Inwood – 207th Street to Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue or to Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill, Queens via Central Park West and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, and Fulton Street in Brooklyn, running express in Manhattan and Brooklyn and local in Queens.
Five rush hour trips designated A Diamond () run from Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park, Queens to Manhattan during the morning hours and five rush hour trips run to Beach 116th Street from Manhattan during the late afternoon hours. At all times, a shuttle train service (the Rockaway Park Shuttle) connects Rockaway Park to the mainline at the Broad Channel station.
Late evenings and nights, approximately 10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. (Saturdays to 6 a.m.; Sundays to 7 a.m.), the A service makes all local stops in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, terminating at Far Rockaway only. During these times, S shuttle trains run between Euclid Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard.
The A and AA were the first services on the IND Eighth Avenue Line when it opened on September 10, 1932. The A ran express between 207th Street and Chambers Street (adjacent to Hudson Terminal), and the AA was a local between 168th Street and Hudson Terminal (today's World Trade Center station). During late nights and Sundays, the A did not run and the AA made all stops along the line.
The A was extended to Jay Street – Borough Hall on February 1, 1933, when the Cranberry Street Tunnel to Brooklyn opened; an extension to Bergen Street opened on March 20, and to Church Avenue on October 7.
On April 9, 1936, the IND Fulton Street Line was opened to Rockaway Avenue. The 1936 completion played an integral part in the establishment of Bedford-Stuyvesant as Brooklyn's central African American community. The A train connected Harlem, Manhattan's central African American community to areas of Bedford-Stuyvesant that provided residential opportunities for African Americans not found throughout the rest of New York City.
On April 29, 1956, Grant Avenue was opened, and the line was extended over the BMT Fulton Street Line to Lefferts Boulevard. Two months later, on June 28, 1956, the former Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Line was converted to subway specifications, and service began to Rockaway Park and Wavecrest (Beach 25th Street). At this time, rush hour express service on the Fulton Street Line with the E train began.
On January 16, 1958, a new terminal was created at Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue, and the through connection to the Long Island Rail Road's Far Rockaway station was severed. In 1963, the E train was extended to the Rockaways, and the A train ran local to Euclid Avenue or Lefferts Boulevard at all times. (HH shuttle service from Euclid Avenue provided all service to the Rockaways). On July 9, 1967, the A train was extended to Far Rockaway middays, evenings, and weekends, replacing the HH shuttle on that branch. Five years later, it would also be extended during rush hours. On January 2, 1973, the A train became the express service along Fulton Street and the E train became the local. Finally, in 1976, the C became the Fulton Street Local during rush hours.
In 1985, the Independent Subway System's practice of using double letters to indicate local service was discontinued. The AA service was renamed the K. In 1988, it was discontinued and replaced by the C.
Until 1990, the main service was to Lefferts Boulevard, while the Far Rockaway service did not run late nights; at this time, a transfer to a shuttle at Euclid Avenue was available. In 1990, this pattern was switched, with late-night A service running to Far Rockaway only. A shuttle now provides service from Euclid Avenue to Lefferts Boulevard during late nights. A few years later, special A service began running from Rockaway Park to Dyckman Street during the morning rush, and from 59th Street – Columbus Circle to Rockaway Park during the evening rush.
In 1999, the A became the express on the Fulton Street Line on evenings and weekends after C service was moved from World Trade Center to Euclid Avenue during that time.
On January 23, 2005, a fire at the Chambers Street signal room crippled A and C service. Initial assessments suggested that it would take several years to restore normal service, but the damaged equipment was replaced with available spare parts, and normal service resumed on April 21.
In the Broadway musical In the Heights, during the title song, Usnavi tells the audience to "take the A Train" (to the melody of Strayhorn's Take the A Train) "even farther than Harlem to Northern Manhattan and maintain. Get off at 181st and take the escalator. I hope you're writing this down, I'm gonna test ya later."
The following lines are used by the A service:
|IND Eighth Avenue Line north of 168th Street||N/A||all times|
|IND Eighth Avenue Line south of 168th Street||express||all times except late nights|
|local||evenings and late nights|
|IND Fulton Street Line north of Euclid Avenue||express||all times except late nights|
|local||evenings and late nights|
|IND Fulton Street Line south of Euclid Avenue||all times|
|IND Rockaway Line to Far Rockaway||N/A|
|IND Rockaway Line to Rockaway Park||rush hours, peak direction only|
For a more detailed station listing, see the articles on the lines listed above.
|Station service legend|
|Stops all times|
|Stops all times except late nights|
|Stops late nights only|
|Stops weekdays only|
|Stops rush hours in the peak direction only|
|Time period details|
|Inwood – 207th Street|
|175th Street||George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal|
1 (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line)
|163rd Street – Amsterdam Avenue|
|145th Street||B C D|
|125th Street||B C D||M60 bus to LaGuardia Airport|
|110th Street – Cathedral Parkway|
|81st Street – Museum of Natural History|
|59th Street – Columbus Circle||B C D
1 2 (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line)
|50th Street||E||Station is accessible in the southbound direction only|
|42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal||C E
1 2 3 (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line)
7 <7> (IRT Flushing Line)
N Q R W (BMT Broadway Line)
S (42nd Street Shuttle)
at Times Square – 42nd Street
|Port Authority Bus Terminal|
|34th Street – Penn Station||C E||Amtrak, LIRR, NJ Transit at Pennsylvania Station|
|14th Street||C E
L (BMT Canarsie Line)
|West Fourth Street – Washington Square||C E
B D F V (IND Sixth Avenue Line)
|PATH at 9th Street|
|Canal Street||C E|
|Chambers Street||C E
2 3 (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line at Park Place)
|PATH at World Trade Center|
|Broadway – Nassau Street||C
2 3 (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line)
4 5 (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
J M Z (BMT Nassau Street Line)
|High Street – Brooklyn Bridge||C|
|Jay Street – Borough Hall||C
F (IND Sixth Avenue Line)
G (IND Crosstown Line)
|Franklin Avenue||S (BMT Franklin Avenue Line)|
|Nostrand Avenue||C||LIRR Atlantic Branch at Nostrand Avenue|
|Kingston–Throop Avenues||B15 to JFK Airport|
J Z (BMT Jamaica Line)
L (BMT Canarsie Line)
|LIRR Atlantic Branch at East New York|
|Van Siclen Avenue|
|Services to Lefferts Boulevard and The Rockaways split|
|Service to Lefferts Boulevard|
|Ozone Park – Lefferts Boulevard||Q10 to JFK Airport|
|Rockaway Line services|
|Aqueduct Racetrack||Station serves northbound trains only, and is open between 11:00 AM–7:00 PM on racing days at Aqueduct Racetrack.|
|Aqueduct – North Conduit Avenue|
|Howard Beach – JFK Airport||AirTrain JFK|
|Broad Channel||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)|
|Services to Far Rockaway and Rockaway Park split|
|Service to Far Rockaway|
|Beach 67th Street||Far Rockaway-bound trains do not stop due to renovation|
|Beach 60th Street|
|Beach 44th Street||Far Rockaway-bound trains do not stop due to renovation|
|Beach 36th Street|
|Beach 25th Street||Far Rockaway-bound trains do not stop due to renovation|
|Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue||LIRR Far Rockaway Branch at Far Rockaway|
|Service to Rockaway Park|
|Beach 90th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)||Manhattan-bound trains do not stop due to renovation|
|Beach 98th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)|
|Beach 105th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)||Manhattan-bound trains do not stop due to renovation|
|Rockaway Park – Beach 116th Street||S (Rockaway Park Shuttle)|