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Howard Beach–JFK Airport station

 Howard Beach–JFK Airport 20 airtransportation inv.svg
 "A" train
MTA NYC logo.svg New York City Subway rapid transit station
AirTrain JFK people mover station
NYCS IND Rockaway HowardBeach night.jpg
View of the subway platforms and mezzanine at night
Station statistics
Address159th Avenue & 103rd Street
Queens, NY 11414
LocaleHoward Beach
Coordinates40°39′37″N 73°49′49″W / 40.6604°N 73.8303°W / 40.6604; -73.8303
DivisionB (IND, formerly LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch)
LineIND Rockaway Line
Airport transportation AirTrain JFK
Services      A all times (all times)
Transit connectionsBus transport MTA Bus: Q11
StructureAt-grade (subway station)
Elevated (AirTrain JFK station)
Platforms2 side platforms (subway station)
1 island platform (AirTrain JFK station)
Tracks4; 2 in regular service (subway station)
2 (AirTrain JFK station)
Other information
OpenedApril 1913; 106 years ago (1913-04) (LIRR station)[1]
December 17, 2003; 15 years ago (2003-12-17) (AirTrain JFK)
RebuiltJune 28, 1956; 63 years ago (1956-06-28) (subway station)
December 17, 2003; 15 years ago (2003-12-17) (connection to AirTrain JFK)
Station code198[2]
AccessibleThis station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ADA-accessible
Passengers (2018)1,154,695 (subway station only)[3]Increase 2.8%
Rank331 out of 424
Station succession
Next northAqueduct–North Conduit Avenue: A all times
Next southBroad Channel: A all times

Next adjacent station compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 northAqueduct Racetrack: A all times
Next adjacent station compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 southFar Rockaway–Mott Avenue (via Rockaway): A all times
Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street (via Rockaway Park): A rush hours, peak directionS all times (also via same-platform transfer at Broad Channel)

Howard Beach–JFK Airport is a subway/people mover station complex located at Coleman Square between 159th Avenue and 103rd Street in Howard Beach, Queens. The New York City Subway portion of the station is on the IND Rockaway Line and is served by the Rockaway branch of the A train at all times. The AirTrain JFK portion of the station complex is served by the AirTrain's Howard Beach branch at all times.

The station was originally a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station along the Rockaway Beach Branch. The LIRR station opened in 1913 to replace the nearby Ramblersville station. The LIRR ceased operations at this station in 1950, and the New York City Transit Authority bought the section of the Rockaway Beach Branch that included this station in 1952. The subway station opened on June 28, 1956. Between 2000 and 2003, the subway station was completely reconstructed and the AirTrain JFK station was built. The rebuilt complex was completed on December 17, 2003, providing easier access to JFK Airport for large parts of the city.


The station originally opened in April 1913 as a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station, which replaced the former 1899-built Ramblersville station that was built 0.2 miles (0.32 km) to the south.[4] In 1923, the station was retrofitted with sheltered sheds on both sides of the tracks.[1] On May 8, 1950, a fire broke out between The Raunt and Broad Channel stations, destroying the trestle over Jamaica Bay, cutting service between Hamilton Beach and the Rockaways.[5] The LIRR was bankrupt and unwilling to rebuild the trestle. As a result, the line was sold to the New York City Transit Authority in 1952.[6]

On June 27, 1955, the Howard Beach station, along with all the rest of the Rockaway Beach Branch stations south of the now defunct Ozone Park station, was taken out of service for eight months for restructuring and upgrading of the tracks, so that they could accommodate subway service. During the project, the Howard Beach station, along with the Broad Channel and Far Rockaway stations, was completely rebuilt utilizing a modern design, which included a new overhead passageway between the two platforms. The design was created by architect J. Harold Sandifer, a native of the Rockaways. Many of the parts for the station were prefabricated, speeding construction.[7][8][9][10] On June 28, 1956, the station reopened as a subway station along with the rest of the line. The previous Long Island Rail Road station at this location was razed. Inauguration ceremonies were held at the station as well as at Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn.[6][7][11][12]

In June 1978, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced plans for an "experimental" subway-bus service between Manhattan and JFK Airport, terminating at the Howard Beach subway station where passengers could transfer to a free shuttle bus to the airport.[13] The JFK Express began operation on September 23, 1978, operating as a premium service, with riders paying the additional fare on board. The service ran express on the IND Sixth Avenue Line to West Fourth Street–Washington Square, where it switched to the IND Eighth Avenue Line and ran express to Jay Street–Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. From that point on, it ran non-stop on the IND Fulton Street Line and IND Rockaway Line to Howard Beach–JFK Airport.[14][15] In its early years, the service was more successful, with 6,000 passengers carried on the maximum day. However, the premium service lost its allure as the rest of the subway system was improved, with reduced crime and new graffiti-free trains. As a result, more passengers opted to take the slower A to Howard Beach. The JFK Express was discontinued on April 15, 1990 due to low ridership, with as few as 3,200 riders per day.[14][16][17][18] The bus service, connecting the station and JFK, continued after JFK Express service ended, and was the only link between the airport and the Howard Beach station at the time.[15][14][19][20] Ridership on the A to the Airport increased after the discontinuation of the JFK Express: in 1995, about 1 million passengers used the A to the Airport.[21]:3.14

The station was extensively reconstructed in the early 2000s, undergoing a $50 million overhaul to connect the subway station to the new AirTrain JFK. The project was designed by STV Group and financed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.[19][22][23] During the reconstruction of the station, the original subway platforms were demolished and temporary platforms were erected in the center trackways while the new platforms and mezzanine were built. During off-peak hours, trains utilized a single track.[24][25] The AirTrain structure around the station was completed in 2001,[26] and the AirTrain station opened on December 17, 2003, at which time the shuttle bus was discontinued.[19][23] The transfer was popular, with 4 million people transferring between the subway and the AirTrain from 2003 to 2007.[27] The AirTrain was designed with the same track height and track gauge as those of the subway, to facilitate a future extension of the subway over the AirTrain system.[28]

Due to extensive damage to the IND Rockaway Line by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, this was the southern terminal for A trains that normally traveled to the Rockaways while the line south of the station was being repaired. Full service to the Rockaways was restored on May 30, 2013.[29][30]

Station layout

AirTrain JFK level
Track 2 Howard Beach Branch toward Terminal 8 (Lefferts Boulevard)
Island platform with platform doors, doors will open on the left, right Handicapped/disabled access
Track 1 Howard Beach Branch toward Terminal 8 (Lefferts Boulevard)
Mezzanine Fare control and overpass; transfer between subway and AirTrain
Ground level
Side platform, doors will open on the right Handicapped/disabled access
Northbound local "A" train toward Inwood–207th Street (Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue)
Northbound express No regular service
Southbound express Trackbed
Southbound local "A" train toward Far Rockaway ("A" express train toward Rockaway Park PM rush hours) (Broad Channel)
Side platform, doors will open on the right Handicapped/disabled access
Street level station house Exit/Entrance
Handicapped/disabled access Elevators at Coleman Square and 159th Avenue

The station's mezzanine is located in a modern, temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed building above the subway platforms and tracks,[20][22] measuring 90 feet (27 m) across,[15] with a large stainless steel sign on either side reading "Howard Beach JFK."[31] The mezzanine building contains a small token booth and three turnstile banks between the subway, the AirTrain JFK, and the unpaid area.[20][22]

Track layout
     Subway (Lower level)
     AirTrain (Upper level)
to Lefferts Boulevard

New York City Subway platforms

The grade-level New York City Subway station has two side platforms and four tracks with the two center express tracks not used in revenue service. The southbound express track has been severed and has permanently been removed from service, while the northbound express track is unused in regular service. South of the station, there are switches and crossovers between all four tracks before the two outer tracks merge with the center ones.[32]:54 The two-track line then crosses Jamaica Bay to Broad Channel, which is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the south. The crossing is the longest stretch of line between two consecutive stations in the system.[33][34]

Both platforms have concrete windscreens on either end and steel canopies at the portions underneath the center station building.[35][36] The platforms are offset, with the southbound platform extending slightly to the north, and the northbound platform extending slightly further south.[37] A set of staircases and escalators from each subway platform go up to the station building. There are also two elevators from each platform to the station building. Outside the subway's and AirTrain's fare control, two elevators lead from the station building to street level.[20][38]

The Rockaway-bound platform has two High Entry/Exit Turnstiles and one exit-only turnstile leading to a short staircase that goes down to the intersection of 159th Road and 103rd Street.[39] The Brooklyn-bound platform has a set of emergency doors leading to the parking lot just north of the AirTrain JFK station; they are normally locked, but were in use from December 2012 to May 2013 as a connection to a temporary shuttle bus service instituted after Hurricane Sandy.[40]

Prior to the 2000s reconstruction, the design of the station and overpass resembled that of the Broad Channel station.[8][9][41]

AirTrain JFK platform

The AirTrain JFK portion of this station has two tracks and one island platform on the upper level of the station complex.[32]:104 The eastern end of the AirTrain platform leads to Parking Area C.[42] Unlike the New York City Subway platforms, the AirTrain JFK platforms are entirely enclosed and feature platform screen doors, which help the station maintain a constant temperature and prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks. An array of sensors detect a train's position on the track, and only when it is properly aligned will the train's doors open. This enables the AirTrain to use automatic train operation without drivers.[23][42]

The platform measures approximately 240 feet (73 m).[23][42] The next stop to the southeast is Lefferts Boulevard.[42] Since it is owned by the Port Authority, it uses a separate fare control from the subway.[43] Passengers must pay their fare when either entering or leaving the station, as this station and Jamaica are the only stations where fares are collected. MetroCard vending machines are located on both sides of fare control.[44][45]


The exit from the complex to the Howard Beach neighborhood is on the west side, with a twisting staircase and two elevators going down to the east side of 103rd Street/Coleman Square by the T-intersection with 159th Avenue.[46][47] A connecting bridge on the east side of the station leads into the AirTrain JFK station.[20] Two High Entry-Exit Turnstiles and one exit-only turnstile are located on the southbound subway platform and leads directly to Coleman Square.[46][39]



  1. ^ a b "LONG ISLAND STATION HISTORY". Archived from the original on May 26, 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "Station Developers' Information". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "Facts and Figures: Annual Subway Ridership 2013–2018". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 18, 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Huneke, Arthur John (2005). "ONE HUNDRED YEARS THE LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD 1905 – ELECTRIFICATION – 2005". LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD HISTORY, Online Museum of Long Island Rail Road and Photo Gallery. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  5. ^ "L.I.R.R. Proposes Junking Trestle Ruined by Fire". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 31, 1950. p. 4. Retrieved September 22, 2015 – via
  6. ^ a b Freeman, Ira Henry (June 28, 1956). "Rockaway Trains to Operate Today" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "First Train On Rockaway Line Runs This Afternoon". Wave of Long Island. June 28, 1956. pp. 1, 6.
  8. ^ a b "New Look In Transit: Modernistic Station And Drawbridge". Wave of Long Island. December 2, 1954. p. 1. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "New Station Set At Howard Beach" (PDF). The New York Times. November 11, 1954. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  10. ^ "Stations On New Line Are Modern". Wave of Long Island. June 28, 1956. p. 7. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  11. ^ "TA's New Line To Rockaways Begins Today: Fifty Piece Band To Play as Special Train Makes First Run". The Leader-Observer. June 28, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  12. ^ "To Rockaways: Beach Trains In Operation". Greenpoint Weekly Star. June 29, 1956. p. 2. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  13. ^ Lichtenstein, Grace (June 27, 1978). "Experimental Bus‐Subway Route to Kennedy Planned". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Grynbaum, Michael M. (November 25, 2009). "If You Took the Train to the Plane, Sing the Jingle". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "New 'JFK Express' Service Begun in Howard Beach". New York Leader Observer. September 28, 1978. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  16. ^ Linder, Bernard (December 2008). "Sixth Avenue Subway Service Changes". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 51 (12): 2–4. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  17. ^ The New York Times (March 11, 1990). "JFK express subway to be discontinued". Observer–Reporter. New York City. p. 54. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  18. ^ Faison, Seth (April 20, 1993). "Trains and Buses, Then Airplanes". The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  19. ^ a b c Gosling, Geoffrey D.; Freeman, Dennis (May 2012). "CASE STUDY REPORT: JOHN F. KENNEDY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIRTRAIN" (PDF). Mineta Transportation Institute, San Jose State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 6, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Project Profile; USA; New York Airtrain" (PDF). UCL Bartlett School of Planning. September 6, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  21. ^ JFK International Airport Light Rail System: Environmental Impact Statement. 1997.
  22. ^ a b c "AirTrain JFK Howard Beach Intermodal Center" (PDF). STV Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 20, 2016.
  23. ^ a b c d "AirTrain JFK opens for service". Railway Gazette International. March 1, 2004. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  24. ^ Glucksman, Randy (October 2002). "Commuter and Transit Notes". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders Association. 45 (10): 13, 18–19.
  25. ^ Erlitz, Jeffrey (November 2002). "Tech Talk". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 45 (11): 7, 19. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  26. ^ Scheinbart, Betsy (May 10, 2001). "AirTrain construction starts on Jamaica station". Times Ledger. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  27. ^ Hughes, C. J. (March 25, 2007). "Prices Aren't Supersonic; the Planes Aren't Either". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  28. ^ Chan, Sewell (January 12, 2005). "Train to J.F.K. Scores With Fliers, but Not With Airport Workers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  29. ^ "Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on November 29, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  30. ^ "A Train Service Restored to Rockaways". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 30, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  31. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (March 30, 2005). "The SMEE train with the ultra modern Howard Beach JFK sign along the glass mezzanine where AirTrain's terminal is". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  32. ^ a b Dougherty, Peter (2006) [2002]. Tracks of the New York City Subway 2006 (3rd ed.). Dougherty. OCLC 49777633 – via Google Books.
  33. ^ "Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy: The Recovery". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 16, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  34. ^ "Facts and Figures". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  35. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (March 30, 2005). "Looking out from the mezzanine level north at the station platforms, this view shows how there offset from each other a bit". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  36. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (December 29, 2008). "Each platform at Howard Beach has an ultra modern canopy with no columns on the platform to hold the metal structure up". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  37. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (July 24, 2013). "An OOS A train running light from Far Rockaway back to a yard has finished bypassing Howard Beach". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  38. ^ *Cox, Jeremiah (May 14, 2005). "Looking down an escalator from the mezzanine level to one of the subway platforms at Howard Beach. The station's mezzanine has that modern airport feel with lots of glass everywhere all over the building". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  39. ^ a b Cox, Jeremiah (March 30, 2005). "The two High Entrance/Exit Turnstile and one High Exit turnstile that lead street level at Coleman Square to the Rockaway-bound platform at Howard Beach". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  40. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (April 24, 2013). "The large Emergency Exit Only sign hasn't changed outside the temporary turnstiles". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  41. ^ Compare:
  42. ^ a b c d Berger, Raymond R. (December 2002). "A Tour of the JFK Airtrain". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders Association. 45 (12): 4, 16. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  43. ^ Cox, Jeremiah (September 13, 2013). "The A train turnstiles, a crowd is beyond them waiting to pay for Airtrain, if I were in the position I would exit through the A train's turnstile and then pay my fare at the other set of fare gates". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  44. ^ Berger, Raymond R.; Mercado, Raymond J. (January 2004). "JFK Airtrain Update – Revenue Passenger Service Begins". New York Division Bulletin. Electric Railroaders Association. 47 (1): 17–18. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  45. ^ "Cost and Tickets – AirTrain – Ground Transportation – John F. Kennedy International Airport – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey". Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  46. ^ a b "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Ozone Park" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2015. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  47. ^ "NYC Official Accessibility Guide" (PDF). City of New York. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 7, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015.

External links

  Former services  
Preceding station   MTA NYC logo.svg LIRR   Following station
toward Grand Street
Rockaway Beach Branch