Franchise History of the New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway (1912)

From nycsubway.org

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. XXXIX, No. 21, May 25, 1912


Crossing Over the Electrified Section of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.

An Account of the Franchise history of This New Single-Phase Suburban Railway, of the Territory Which It Serves, of Its Relation to Previously Established Transit Lines, of the Character of Train Service Which It Gives and of the Method of Fare Collection

The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway, which will begin operation on May 29 in the borough of the Bronx, New York, and through Westchester County, over the routes indicated in the accompanying map, is unique as the first heavy electric traction system in the East which is neither an electrification of a steam railroad nor an extension of an ordinary direct-current city system. It presents the novel condition of a single-phase suburban railroad of the most massive construction, built through what is practically virgin territory and with right-of-way facilities to satisfy the heaviest traffic demands that are likely to arise from more than a generation of rapid growth. The construction of the road along such broad, far-sighted lines could hardly have been undertaken by any organization other than one which could afford to dispense with an immediate profit on its investment. Thus, despite many years of promotion, no important building was undertaken until interests identified with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad had secured possession of the franchise rights as hereinafter described.


Single Phase Trains Ready for Service.


The new line passes through the sparsely settled territory of the northern part of Bronx Borough. Beyond this section it is in touch with many important towns and villages of Westchester County which are served by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad's main line and Harlem River branch and by the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad's main line, Putnam and Harlem divisions. However, the routes of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway were so laid out that in communities which already had railroad service the stations of the new line were placed at the opposite end of the town to foster the growth of entirely new business. The new Westchester system, as now built, consists of the main line from Harlem River, borough of the Bronx, New York, to North Avenue, New Rochelle, a distance of 12.23 miles, and a branch from Columbus Avenue, Mount Vernon, to Westchester Avenue, White Plains, Westchester County, a distance of 8.6 miles. Eventually the main line will extend to Port Chester, N. Y., and the proposed Westchester Northern Railroad will form a through line from White Plains to Brewster, N. Y., and Danbury, Conn. In general, the rapid transit routes in Westchester County run north and south and are owned or controlled by the New Haven and New York Central Railroads, while cross-country connections are afforded by electric railways which operate cars of city type.

Franchise History and Terms

The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York on March 20, 1872. The original route under its charter was from the Harlem River to Port Chester, N. Y., with two branches, one from the main line near what is now 177th Street in the borough of the Bronx to Throg's Neck, the other from Mount Vernon to Elmsford, N. N.. The New York & Port Chester Railroad Company was incorporated in New York on April 3, 1901.

By act of Legislature in 1909 the consolidation of these companies was authorized, as was also the right to abandon the portion of the White Plains Branch of the Westchester Company between White Plains and Elmsford, N. Y., and the portion of the Throg's Neck Branch from Clason Point to Throg's Neck, subject to the approval of the Public Service Commissions of the First and Second Districts. These bodies approved the consolidation of the two companies and the abandonment of the White Plains-Elmsford line, but denied the petition for the right to abandon the Throg's Neck branch. On Jan. 19, 1910, the properties of both companies were merged into a new company called the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company, the capital stock of which is $5,000,000 and the total new mortgage $60,000,000. Of the latter the total authorized issue is $20,100,000. The ownership of the road lies wholly with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.

The New York City franchise was granted to the company on Aug. 2, 1904. Under its terms the company is to pay during the first ten years $8,000 annually and during the succeeding fifteen years the sum of $16,000 annually, and beginning with the operation of any portion of the railway until the end of the first ten years an additional sum of 40 cents per linear foot for each line of single track within the lines of all legally open streets in use, and for the succeeding fifteen years 80 cents per annum in lieu of the 40 cents. The company is to construct for the accommodation of local passengers at least six stations between the Harlem and Bronx Rivers and at least four stations between the Bronx River and the city line and be obligated to run on the main line at least sixty trains in either direction daily. At no time either day or night must the headway be greater than thirty minutes, except that during the first five years after the commencement of operation trains are not required to run between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. unless otherwise directed by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. During the first twenty-five years the fare within the city limits must not exceed 5 cents for one continuous ride to any point on the railway to any other point thereon or branch or connection thereof.

The line from the Harlem River to 174th Street uses under a perpetual lease the tracks of the Harlem River branch of the New Haven Company. At 174th Street the tracks diverge from those of that company running north-westwardly across successively 180th Street, Pelham Parkway, Gun Hill Road, East 222d Street, Baychester Avenue, Boston Post Road and Dyre Avenue, reaching the New York City line and entering the limits of Mount Vernon just beyond the latter point. From there the route lies through Mount Vernon, crossing East Sixth Street and East Third Street to Columbus Avenue, where it passes over the New Haven main line and at which point the White Plains branch diverges, the main line continuing on the northwesterly side of the New Haven road through North Pelham, crossing Fifth Avenue, into New Rochelle, crossing Clifford, Webster and North Avenues and reaching another point of connection with the New Haven main line at the eastern end of New Rochelle, from which point it is practically parallel to the main line of the New Haven Railroad through Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison and Rye to Port Chester. The White Plains branch, diverging from the main line at Columbus Avenue, crosses East Lincoln Avenue in Mount Vernon and, passing through the extreme western bounds of New Rochelle over North Avenue, passes through Scarsdale, crossing Quaker Ridge Road, Palmer Avenue, Ridgeway Road and Mamaroneck Avenue to White Plains.


A Deep Rock Cut on the Four-Track Section, Mount Vernon.

Character and Population of Territory Served

The new road will serve a great area of most attractive residential territory which hitherto has been too isolated from the metropolitan district to enjoy any considerable development. Much of this land is several hundred feet above sea level and from a hygienic point of view is exceptionally adapted to the requirements of home builders. The prospect for the growth and development of the territory through which the road passes probably can be best indicated by the statistics which show its progress in the past and foreshadow what may be looked for in the future under the very greatly improved conditions brought about by the building of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway.

The total population of the borough of the Bronx in 1900 was 200,507. In 1910 its population had grown to 430,980, an increase of over 114 percent. In 1900 the assessed value of its real estate was $138,494,849. In 1910 it had increased to $464,704,008, an increase of over 234 percent. In 1911 the assessed valuation had risen to $603,488,112. A very considerable proportion of this last increase was due no doubt to the increased value brought about by the fact that the railway was under construction. It is believed by experienced judges that within another decade the population of the borough of the Bronx will be about 1,000,000.

The city of Mount Vernon increased in population during the last decade 45 percent. The town of Pelham increased 91 percent, and during the same period the population of New Rochelle increased 96 percent, that of Scarsdale 47 percent and that of White Plains 102 percent. The assessed valuations of the cities named all show increases in the valuation of real estate on the same large ratio. Whi]e statistics are not available for other towns along the main line, it is known that the increases in their population and assessed valuation have been of the same generous proportions. The increases in the population of the principal Communities in Westchester County are shown in the table in the next column.

A great number of very large and most attractive real estate developments have already been opened and improved for settlement. Many others are projected, the lot values in which vary from prices for the modest home of the laborer to suburban villas of the highest type.

Increase in the Population of
Westchester County Communities

Mount Vernon21,22830,919
New Rochelle14,72028,868
White Plains7,86915,949
    Increase, 46,865, 66.2 per cent

New York Terminals

The New York City terminal of the road will be at the same point as that of the Harlem River Branch of the New York, New Haven & Hartford road at Harlem River, where direct connection will be made with the elevated lines. A comprehensive transfer station, however, is being erected at 180th Street, to which the Interborough Rapid Transit Company is to extend the elevated section of its present subway line and the express service of its Third and Second Avenue elevated roads when third-tracked for that purpose. This transfer station, which will be 200 ft. wide and 560 ft. long, will be utilized by the Interborough and Westchester companies for the interchange of traffic. It will also be used by the proposed White Plains Road branch of the Interborough Company and is so designed that it may be used by the triborough subway now under construction by the city of New York. The successful completion of these various lines will give quick and effective distribution of Westchester passengers to the particular points in Manhattan which they may desire to reach and will add greatly to city and suburban transit facilities.

It should be explained that, in view of the franchise condition which restricts the Westchester company to the collection of but one 5-cent fare for a ride within the city of New York, it would have been financially impracticable to carry passengers further than the northern terminals of existing city lines. Studies made by L. B. Stillwell of all transit facilities within the suburban zone of New York showed that there was not a single line which did not require that most of its passengers should transfer at least once in order to reach New York, and furthermore that any given town on the Westchester line with the city connections previously mentioned would be nearer to the New York City Hall in point of time than any other equally distant town on any other railway.

Station Locations

The stations of the road in the borough of the Bronx are located at 180th Street, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Gun Hill Road, Baychester Avenue and Dyre Avenue; in Mount Vernon at Kingsbridge Road, East Sixth Street, East Third Street, Columbus Avenue; in Pelham at Fifth Avenue, and in New Rochelle at Clifford, Webster and North Avenues. The other stations between New Rochelle and Port Chester on the main line have not yet been definitely located. On the White Plains division after passing Columbus Avenue there will be a station in Mount Vernon at East Lincoln Avenue and one in Eastchester at Chester Heights, and there will he stations in the northern part of New Rochelle at Wykagyl and Quaker Ridge, in Scarsdale at Heathcote, and in White Plains at Ridgeway Road, Mamaroneck Avenue and Westchester Avenue, the last station being the terminal of the division and the connecting and transfer point with the Westchester Northern Railroad when the latter road is constructed.

Ultimate Train Service

As previously noted, the minimum number of trains and the longest permissible headway are fixed chiefly by the franchise requirements of the City of New York. These requirements stipulate that there shall be sixty trains a day each way on the main line, making all station stops (locals); that the maximum headway allowed between such local trains shall be thirty minutes, and that during the first five years of operation service between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. is not required. In addition, the city of Mount Vernon has stipulated that at least fifty trains per day each way must be operated between Mount Vernon and New York. The initial schedule is based on meeting these franchise requirements in regard to the local service besides providing an express service to alternate with the local service on the same headway.


Ticket Office and Turnstiles at Third Street and Sixth Street Stations, Mount Vernon.


Ticket Office and Turnstiles at Third Street and Sixth Street Stations, Mount Vernon.

All locals and expresses, in each direction, to alternate branches meet at the East Third Street station, Mount Vernon, to transfer passengers; that is, all New Rochelle locals meet White Plains expresses at this point and vice versa. Each branch service thus supplements the service of the other branch. It is, therefore, possible to give on each branch a ten-minute express service to New York, with through expresses on a twenty-minute headway, combined with a local express service on a twenty-minute headway. Owing to the fact that this common meeting point lies so near the Columbus Avenue junction, it has been necessary to make this junction operate with great speed as regards switches and signals. The rush hours were assumed to be equivalent to those of the New York subway, allowing for the difference in running time from downtown districts. The arrival rush period at the 180th Street transfer station has been assumed between 7:20 a.m. and 9:20 a.m., equivalent to 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Brooklyn Bridge, and the leaving rush hours from 5 to 7 p.m., equivalent to 4:20 p.m. to 6:20 p m. at Brooklyn Bridge.

Preliminary Train Service

For the preliminary service express and local trains are to he operated between 180th Street and North Avenue, New Rochelle, on the east. The train service, which is to some extent experimental with a view to developing the amount of passenger traffic, is to be as follows:

South-bound express trains leave East Third Street, Mount Vernon, every twenty minutes, stopping at Pelham Parkway and 180th Street. Local trains leave East Third Street every twenty minutes, making all stops to 180th Street.

Express trains to the north leave East Third Street every forty minutes for North Avenue, New Rochelle, and local trains for North Avenue also run at 40-minute intervals.

Proposed Full-Time Service

The regular service will call for a fifteen-minute headway for both express and local trains on each branch. This will give a headway of seven and one-half minutes for both the express and local trains on the four-track section between New York and Mount Vernon. It is planned to run on the same headway practically all day long both on weekdays and holidays.


In preparing the schedules it was planned that the local trains were to consist of one car each and express trains of three cars each. All straight passenger rolling stock consists of center and end-door motor cars as described in the Electric Railway Journal for March 30, 1912, which seat seventy-eight passengers each. The local stops were assumed at fifteen seconds each and the express stops at twenty-five seconds each.

Running Times

The running times of express and local trains on the two divisions have been calculated as follows:

Time of Run
and Stop

White Plains Express Service - 180th Street to White Plains
180th Street to Pelham Parkway1.5252:543:19
Pelham Parkway to East Third Street3.8715:255:50
East Third Street to Wykagyl3.1875:055:30
Wykagyl to Heathcote2.9274:415:06
Heathcote to White Plains3.5705:055:05
Total: 180th Street to White Plains15.080.. ..24:50

New Rochelle Express Service - 180th Street to New Rochelle
180th Street to Pelham Parkway1.5252:543:19
Pelham Parkway to East Third Street3.8715:255:50
East Third Street to New Rochelle2.3794:334:35
Total: 180th Street to New Rochelle7.775.. ..13:04

White Plains Local Service - 180th Street to White Plains
180th Street to Morris Park1.1342.282:43
Morris Park to Pelham Parkway0.3891:201:35
Pelham Parkway to Gun Hill Road0.8912:042:19
Gun Hill Road to Baychester Avenue0.7621:512:06
Baychester Avenue to Dyre Avenue0.7691:441:59
Dyre Avenue to Kingsbridge Road0.2951:051:20
Kingsbridge Road to East Sixth Street0.6081:431:58
East Sixth Street to East Third Street0.5461:401:55
East Third Street to Columbus Avenue0.4991:301:45
Columbus Avenue to Lincoln Avenue0.3721:111:26
Lincoln Avenue to Chester Heights0.9322:082:23
Chester Heights to Wykagyl1.3842:454:00
Wykagyl to Quaker Ridge2.0673:454:00
Quaker Ridge to Heathcote0.8602:062:21
Heathcote to Ridgeway1.5613:013:16
Ridgeway to Mamaroneck Avenue1.3792:372:52
Mamaroneck Avenue to Westchester Avenue0.6301:381:38
Total: 180th Street to White Plains15.08034:3638:36

New Rochelle Local Service - 180th Street to White Plains
180th Street to Morris Park1.1342.282:43
Morris Park to Pelham Parkway0.3891:201:35
Pelham Parkway to Gun Hill Road0.8912:042:19
Gun Hill Road to Baychester Avenue0.7621:512:06
Baychester Avenue to Dyre Avenue0.7691:441:59
Dyre Avenue to Kingsbridge Road0.2951:051:20
Kingsbridge Road to East Sixth Street0.6081:431:58
East Sixth Street to East Third Street0.5461:401:55
East Third Street to Columbus Avenue0.4991:301:45
Columbus Avenue to Fifth Avenue Pelham0.6341:362:11
Fifth Avenue to Storer Avenue0.3271:121:27
Storer Avenue to Webster Avenue0.4161:281:43
Webster Avenue to New Rochelle0.5031:251:25
Total: 180th Street to New Rochelle7.77521:2624:26

It will be observed from the foregoing tables that on the White Plains division the distance between the express stations ranges from 1.525 miles to 3.875 miles. and that the schedule speed of the express trains is 36.5 m.p.h.; while on the New Rochelle division the scheduled speed is 34 m.p.h. The distance between local stations on the White Plains division ranges from 0.295 mile to 2.072 miles and the schedule speed is 23.5 m.p.h. Similarly on the New Rochelle division the distance between local stations varies from 0.295 mile to 1.134 miles and the schedule speed is 19.1 m.p.h.


Station Platforms at Sixth Street, Mount Vernon.

Fares and Fare Collection

The single-trip fares on the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway are based upon the 5-cent zone system. There are eight zones in all. The longest zone is that between the Harlem River terminal and Dyre Avenue within the limits of New York, a distance of 8.39 miles. This length, of course, was determined by the franchise conditions. The cost of the 20-mile trip to White Plains is 35 cents. Sixty-ride commutation books between the zones hereinafter named and the Harlem River terminal are sold at the following rates: Mount Vernon, $5 for 10.72 miles; Fifth Avenue, Pelham, $5.25 for 11.01 miles; New Rochelle, $5.50 for 12.23 miles; Wykagyl, $5.50 for 13.07 miles; Heathcote, $7 for 16.01 miles, and White Plains, $8 for 19.56 miles.

The zone system of fare collection has been so devised that the passenger, whether occasional or commuting, will not be asked to show his ticket during the entire trip. For example, a person who enters the East Third Street station at Mount Vernon receives for 10 cents a ticket which is marked as good to any station within the New York zone. As he passes through the turnstile his ticket is mutilated with a punch peculiar to the Mount Vernon zone. The ticket holder then boards the train, but does not give up his ticket until he deposits it in a ticket chopper's box at the station of departure. In like manner the commuter has his commutation ticket punched at the entering station and vised by the ticket chopper at the leaving station. Although this method of ticket fare collection is novel in American electric railway practice, it is in common use on the underground railways of London and Berlin. As shown in the accompanying reproductions, only two styles of tickets are necessary for each zone. one reading "between stations in .... zone only" and the other reading "any station in .... (issuing) zone to any station in .... (terminating) zone." Owing to the small number of zones, it has been found feasible to adopt a distinctive ticket color for each. Thus only red tickets are good for a ride either between stations in the New York zone itself or from any other zone to stations in the New York zone. This means that every ticket surrendered for a ride at a station in the New York zone must be red. Consequently, the ticket chopper can detect over-riding of zones much more easily than if he had to read the lettering as is done by the ticket receivers on the Berlin and London lines. Each ticket agent is therefore provided with only one ticket for each of the eight zones, except for the two-color ticket hereinafter noted. The zones and corresponding colors are as follows: New York, red; Mount Vernon, green; Wykagyl, pink; Quaker Ridge, blue; Heathcote, yellow; Ridgeway, lavender; White Plains, white, and New Rochelle, gray. A two-color ticket is also issued to cover a 5-cent ride two stations in length when the stations are in different zones. The colors used are those of the adjoining zones.

Another wise step taken by the company to please its patrons has been the distribution of a booklet to its trainmen which will enable the latter to answer questions regarding the railway service and the geography of the territory. It is especially desirable that the trainmen should have accurate information concerning locations and distances of the thoroughfares in each community owing to the large number of new or similar names introduced by the many realty development companies.


Entrance and Facade of Third Street Station, Mount Vernon.

Baggage Business

According to the present plans of the company, baggage transportation will be purely interstation and will be limited to such personal belongings of passengers as baggage, tool chests, baby carriages, etc. This baggage will be carried only upon certain trains. Room for baggage handling has been provided at the following stations: 129th Street and 180th Street, New York; East Third Street, Mount Vernon; Chester Heights, Wykagyl, Quaker Ridge, Heathcote and Westchester Avenue, White Plains. The ticket agents will sell baggage checks at a minimum rate of 10 cents for baggage up to 150 lb.



nycsubway.org is not affiliated with any transit agency or provider.
Not mobile.