The 6 Lexington Avenue/Pelham Local and <6> Lexington Avenue Local/Pelham Express are two rapid transit services in the A Division of the New York City Subway. Their route emblems, or "bullets", are colored apple green since they use the IRT Lexington Avenue Line in Manhattan. Local service is denoted by a 6 in a circular bullet, and express service is denoted by a <6> in a diamond-shaped bullet; on the R62A cars, this is written as the <6> Express on the front sign. Rollsigns on the R62A cars also feature LED signs around the service logo to indicate local or express service to riders; a green circle for 6 local trains, and a red diamond for <6> trains.
6 trains operate local at all times between Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx and Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall in Lower Manhattan. During weekdays in the peak direction, <6> Pelham Express trains replace 6 local ones north of Parkchester, and run express between that station and Third Avenue–138th Street. During this time, 6 Pelham Local trains short turn at Parkchester (except for peak-direction <6> Express trains that return in the opposite direction as 6 Local trains). Weekdays from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., select Manhattan-bound <6> trains run local from Parkchester to Hunts Point Avenue while select Parkchester-bound 6 trains run express in that section.
On October 27, 1904, local and express service opened on the original subway in Manhattan, following the route of the present IRT Lexington Avenue Line from City Hall to Grand Central–42nd Street. From there, the service traveled west on 42nd Street on the route of the present 42nd Street Shuttle, and then north on the present IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line to 145th Street.
The current "H" configuration—with separate services along Lexington Avenue and Broadway – Seventh Avenue—was introduced in 1917. Full Lexington Avenue local service from City Hall to 125th Street opened on July 17, 1918. On August 1, 1918, Third Avenue–138th Street opened with trains running between there and City Hall, making all stops.
On January 17, 1919 trains were extended from 138th Street to Hunts Point Avenue, and on May 30, 1920, 6 service was extended to East 177th Street. On October 24, 1920, 6 service was extended again to Westchester Square. On December 20, 1920, 6 service was extended to Pelham Bay Park. From that point on, the current 6 service was formed. All trains ran local between Pelham Bay Park and Brooklyn Bridge, with some trains terminating at the City Hall loop.
By 1934, service south of the City Hall station had been discontinued, and late-night service ran from Pelham Bay Park to 125th Street only; late night express service on the 4 ran local for the first time that year.
Effective December 31, 1945, City Hall station closed with the former Brooklyn Bridge station (renamed to Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall) being the permanent southern terminal. However, the 6 train still uses the loop to get from the southbound to the northbound local track at Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall.
On May 10, 1946, late-night service was extended from 125th Street to its previous terminus at Brooklyn Bridge when late night express service on the 4 was restored.
Beginning October 14, 1946, weekday rush and Saturday morning rush peak direction express service started, with Pelham Bay trains using the middle track between East 177th Street and Third Avenue – 138th Street. This express service saved eight minutes between Third Avenue and East 177th Street. During this time, 6 trains that ran local in the Bronx when express trains operated began to terminate at East 177 Street to make room for express trains to Pelham Bay Park. On March 7, 1949, the hours of the PM Bronx-bound express service were advanced from 4:30 PM to 3:30 PM, and on June 17, 1949, the hours of the AM Manhattan-bound express service were extended from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM.
On September 22, 1948, 54 additional cars were placed in service on the 6 train, increasing the lengths of trains from six cars to seven cars.
From December 15 to 22, 1950, the weekday rush trains from Pelham Bay Park were extended to South Ferry. On June 23, 1956, Saturday morning express service began operating local on the 6 train. Starting April 8, 1960, late night and weekday evening trains were extended to South Ferry, followed by weekend evening service starting October 17, 1965; however, all trains were again cut back to Brooklyn Bridge by May 23, 1976 when the inner loop platform of South Ferry closed.
From March 1, 1960 to October 17, 1965, the 4 and 6 trains also ran local together in Manhattan late nights when late night express service on the 4 was discontinued for a time.
Beginning in January 13, 1980, late night service terminated at 125th Street in Manhattan with the 4 again making all stops south of there. On the same day, Bronx express service was expanded to operate weekdays, with Pelham Bay trains running express in the peak direction to Brooklyn Bridge in the morning, then to Pelham Bay Park in the afternoon.
From March 4 to Summer 1985, there was a 6 train that left 138th Street at 7:20 AM, then turned at Atlantic Avenue, and left at 8:18 AM returning to Pelham Bay Park. It became the only time the 6 was scheduled to operate to Brooklyn.
From January 21 to October 5, 1990, late night service was extended back to Brooklyn Bridge when late night express service on the 4 was restored again. But the 6 was then cut back to 125th Street for the last time when late-night express service on the 4 in Manhattan was permanently discontinued.
Effective October 3, 1999, the 4 and 6 trains once again began to operate local together in Manhattan late nights when the 6 train was permanently extended back to Brooklyn Bridge.
The following table shows the lines used by 6 and <6>, with shaded boxes indicating the route at the specified times:
For a more detailed station listing, see the articles on the lines listed above.Justin Townes Earle's "Working for the MTA" describes the 6 train from the perspective of the driver.
In the 1973 novel The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and the films based on it, a 6 train that originated in Pelham Bay Park was hijacked, and hostages were held inside a subway car.
In the 74th episode of Seinfeld, The Cigar Store Indian, aired in 1993, the characters are riding the 6 from George's parents house in Queens. It stops at Queensboro Plaza where they jump out to get famous Gyros. The 6 however, does not run though Queens; additionally, Queensboro Plaza is in reality an elevated station, instead of a subway station as depicted on Seinfeld.
After his first visit to the city in 1969, Rubén Blades wrote the song "El número seis" about waiting for the 6 train. He never recorded it, but it was recorded in 1975 by Bobby Rodríguez y la Compañía in 1975, Los Soneros del Barrio in 1999, and Jimmy Sabater with Son Boricua in 2002.
In the 1984 film The Pope of Greenwich Village, the bar and tow truck scenes take place beneath the 6 train's elevated structure at Castle Hill Avenue station.
A scene in the 1995 film Kids takes place on the 6 train, including shots of a legless panhandler on a skateboard.
While growing up, Jennifer Lopez regularly rode the 6 train into Manhattan to go to her dance studio. Her debut 1999 album, referring to the subway service, is called On the 6.
Mark Wahlberg rides the 6 (on a train consisting of R29/36 cars) in the 2000 movie The Yards.
In the 2000 movie Boiler Room, the main character, Seth, mentions that the brokers at his firm act like they "just got off the 6 train to Fulton Street." The 6 train, however, does not stop at Fulton Street.
On January 22, 2006, eight members of the Improv Everywhere comedy troupe were arrested on a 6 train after participating in a city-wide prank dubbed "No Pants". They have before and since performed several other pranks on the 6 train.
In the 2007 How I Met Your Mother episode "Lucky Penny", Barney Stinson gets stuck on a 6 train when he becomes unable to move his legs.