Stockelements/Shutterstock.com

It took a reporter 14 hours (and 54 transfers) to cover the 155-mile ride.

Nearly 155 miles and 54 transfers, from Wakefield in the Bronx to Far Rockaway, Queens.

That’s the longest ride on the New York subway without riding the same segment of the route more than once, according to WNYC’s Subwaytron5000. The program uses an algorithm to crunch billions of possibilities. The rules are simple: The computer gets one card swipe and unlimited transfers. It can repeatedly visit any station, as long as it doesn’t cover any stretch of the track twice.

WNYC

But how long would that actually take?

Jody Avirgan, the host of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight podcast, actually braved that trek on a hot day this week. The entire trip took him nearly 14 hours. He started at 8 a.m. at Far Rockaway and reached his final destination a little after 10 p.m.

“I had this notion that I would get on this train and have a lot of downtime and look around and be in the moment,” he said during an interview on the Brian Lehrer show on WYNC.

But Avirgan, who tweeted throughout his long journey, quickly realized how wrong he was. It was equal parts fun and torture, he said (kind of jokingly) on the show. He spent a good portion of the ride making sure to transfer at the correct stations. And because he couldn’t backtrack in the opposite direction on the same line, he went “around and around” to the same transfer hubs to get onto a different line.

“There would be like a transfer hub like Fulton or Broadway Junction, and you would kind of bounce in and out of it,” he said. “So I’d leave Fulton, go south for two stops, transfer, go back up to Fulton, go on another [train] for two stops, go back—I mean I went to Fulton like four times in 15 minutes.”

Along the way, he was also busy tallying the different things he saw, including “three delays because of train traffic ahead of us, two inexplicable delays, 43 attractive women, 41 good-looking guys, seven adorable old couples, countless lost tourists … 19 people reading books, and just one person reading an e-reader.” He also saw New York at its finest, with nine instances of people offering seats to someone else.

The most disappointing thing for Avirgan, though, was not seeing any showtime crews breakdancing on the car. “There are very few places in the world where people dance for you on the train on your way home!” he exclaimed. For him, it’s an important part of being a New Yorker.

Of course, as with anybody enduring a ride lasting hours, Avirgan allowed himself to exit stations for bathroom breaks. But that means, he said, “There is a purer version for someone to do. I kind of encourage you to do it, but I kind of don’t.”

Here are some of his other notable tweets:

Top image: Stockelements/Shutterstock.com.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    What Happened When Tulsa Paid People to Work Remotely

    The first class of hand-picked remote workers moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in exchange for $10,000 and a built-in community. The city might just be luring them to stay.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. Photo: A protected bike lane along San Francisco's Market Street, which went car-free in January.
    Transportation

    Why Would a Bike Shop Fight a Bike Lane?

    A store owner is objecting to San Francisco’s plan to install a protected bike lane, because of parking worries. Should it matter that it’s a bike shop?

  4. Design

    Changing Tides Engulf the South Street Seaport

    Mayor Ed Koch wanted a family-friendly attraction for Lower Manhattan. But this 1983 icon of yuppie-era NYC was swept off course by changing tastes.

  5. Design

    Coronavirus Outbreak Maps Rooted in History

    Cartographers are mapping the coronavirus in more sophisticated ways than past epidemics. But visualizing outbreaks dates back to cholera and yellow fever.

×