As one who has explored New York City by subway on many occasions it was with great interest that I read about a research study conduct by the Weill Cornell Medical College which sampled DNA from all 466 subway stations to create an accurate map of the microbes and bacteria that live in this underground network. The results of the first study of its kind while generally reassuring include some that are a little surprising.
The study, published in Cell Systems, found that the majority of the bacteria found was the benign kind normally present on the hands and body of any of the 5.5 million commuters who use the subway every day. Perhaps unsurprisingly traces of mozzarella cheese were noted on swabs taken from door handles, hand rails and vending machines as New Yorkers love their pizza. In a quarter of the samples however antibiotic-resistant bacteria were discovered while 12% showed some connection to diseases.
The pathogen map – dubbed a “PathoMap” – was created after the results from the 17-month study were analyzed and may serve as a reference for future disease tracking, guarding against bio-terrorism and large scale public health management.
Source: Wall Street Journal Video
On the heels on this study comes another that determined New York’s public transportation system was the fifth best in the United States. The SmartAsset study used census data of the major metropolitan cities comparing a number of a factors including overall public transportation use, average commute times of public transportation versus private cars and the incomes of transit riders. One interesting statistic of note was that once New York’s 2014 subway and bus total ridership was combined it added up to 2.5 billion!
My own informal survey finds the New York City subway system to be one of the best travel values of the major world capitals as an unlimited 7-day MetroCard is USD$31 which considering the per-ride fare is $2.75 makes a week long pass a steal.
That MetroCard is valid on all Brooklyn-bound subways including the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, F or R line all of which feature stops close to the New York Transit Museum housed in a decommissioned historic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn.
Photo by author
A number of subway cars of different eras are open to visitors however these cars never leave this platform.
Photo by author