Based on the New York City Subway, the Subway in Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV is a heavy rail rapid transit system that serves a large portion of the city. With 26 stops and 8 routes, it is the largest and most complex rapid transit system in the Grand Theft Auto world. The system is operated by the Liberty Transport Authority (LTA). The subway also appears in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, however it is inaccessible to the player, yet trains still run. About 65% of the network is underground, with the remaining 35% being overground. No platforms on the entire system are staggered and there are also no ground level stations or tracks in the entire system, except for the depot.
All stations in Broker, Dukes and Bohan are located above ground; stations in Algonquin, aside from Frankfort High LTA, are underground, their entrances distinguishable by their green iron fencing and attached globe lamps. All stations in the system are operational except one, referred to as Dukes Boulevard station (by an LTA Construction Sign on the Station entrance) along a short stub branch of the Broker Line in East Island City; the line is also connected to the Firefly Projects Rail Yard. The cost of using the subway is deducted after the trip, as the ticket machines are not operable. Used tickets can be seen around the stations. They are based on NYC Bus transfers from the 1990s. Subway lines can be seen on the Radar in the HUD as semitransparent gray lines, with stations marked as square lozenges. If a station is underground, multiple access points will be available front street level, typically depicted in the form of a stairway leading underground surrounded by cast iron grills with lampposts attached in the corners. Some of the city's homeless can be found taking shelter in a the large junction tunnel under Lancet. Sometimes, the homeless will "commit suicide" and wander on the tracks, only to be hit by an oncoming train. These incidents can also happen at stations if a homeless person is on the platform. Normally this happens at Emerald subway station.
The subway is a good way to escape from the police at any wanted levels. At lower levels, players may still use the train; as the AI is confused by the player entering the trains, the train may take you well outside the wanted zone. However, use of the subway trains is impossible when the player has a three-star wanted level or more, as the trains will either stop at stations indefinitely, bypass any station the player is in, or are halted. Alternatively, the subway tunnels themselves may be effectively used by the player to escape on foot as police officers do not venture into the tunnels unless they spot the player earlier and pursue him into the tunnels. There is also a bug where the player may receive a 1 star wanted level when entering trains that are about to leave while police are nearby.
This may be a bug in the game's programming as the trains are not "owned" by the player, and the Police AI is programmed to chase the player when he enters a vehicle that isn't owned by him. This occurs when the player has $0 in cash, as he cannot pay the fare at the end of the trip. This bug may also occur when the player enters any underground station without going through the turnstiles, in which that the player avoids paying the subway fare.
Subway trains are not operational, or even available, on multiplayer. However, access to the tracks is still available, and is a useful way to escape the police. Trains also run on a 'rail', i.e. they cannot move from their set route, and will not stop for any reason whatsoever unless coded to, even when their path is blocked (e.g. by a vehicle). The coded coordinates of the tracks can be altered with specific programs, by editing the path files.
The subway trains consist of either two or three cars, are heavily graffitied, and have black and white internal CCTV cameras via which the player can view the protagonist during their journey. The subway interior can also be viewed if you use the camera function on the player's cell phone. Doing that reveals the actual shabbiness of the interior that is hard to see on security cameras. The cars of the trains are based on a mixture of the NYCTA R32 cars and the 1966–67 New York City Subway Class R38 cars, which were completely retired by March 2009; the bulkheads of the cars feature curtain route signs and additional lights seen only on pre-rebuilt R38s (rebuilt R38s feature only a flipdot sign). The signs consistently reference the K line and "Sundance St.; Sth. Slopes" (implying Schottler station), which the K line does not serve. However, this is the location of the subway's rail yards.
Like Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, it is impossible to destroy trains during gameplay. Trains are scripted to be decoupled in the mission For the Man Who Has Everything, derailed in No Way on the Subway, and destroyed in Bang Bang. There are no visible drivers on the trains, and trains cannot be commandeered by the player unless with a modification.
When turning corners, trains always produce an electric blue spark from the wheels. It may be the electric-powered brake, even though the trains are diesels, since they run on a non-electrified system. Or it could just be because friction from the metal-on-metal wheels, since the trains move fairly fast. Trains are programmed to arrive at stations almost simultaneously, however this may change at stations like Easton or Frankfort Low.
The trains also have distinctive door chimes that sound whenever the train closes its doors prior to leaving a station.
The depot in broker and the renovated tracks based in concrete have a third rail running next to them, which carries electric current (a sign at Francis Intl. Airport station contains the warning "Avoid third rail track, or you'll get zapped", indicating that not all trains would run on a diesel engine. However, stepping on the third rail won't electrify Niko.
It is possible that there were actual train conductors controlling the trains in the early beta of the game, thus making them stealable and disproving the fact that trains would run in a scripted method.
We can search through the game's files, where we will find a model named M_M_TRAIN_01, which is accessible and controllable by certain trainers. The model even has variations for clothes and accessories (hats and glasses).
There are also recordings for the unused model. There are exactly 113 files. "Walkie Talkie" recorded files also exist. During one of these recordings, he says that he saw "a rat the size of a pitbull in the tunnels". This sounds like the origin of the Ratman myth which was reported in the subways by players.
Abandoned Railway Lines
It is also possible that the Liberty City Subway may have shared the tracks with (now defunct) freight trains in the past, as well as having a completely different route (possibly reserved for the freight trains).
There is an abandoned portion of an old railway in western Algonquin along Westminster and The Meat Quarter, It runs from the plaza of a new building (blocked off by construction barricades) through several buildings before splitting up. One section runs into a garage in a building (supporting the fact that it may have been used for freight), and the other leads to a broken off edge forming a ramp. This stretch refrences the real-life High Line freight railway in New York City, which ran in the corresponding areas of Manhattan (Meat District, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Hell's Kitchen) from the 30s to the 80s and in real life has become a park.
Several disused tracks and railcars also dot industrial areas in Alderney. These include two abandoned rail depots (one that has been almost completely torn down), several sections of track (mostly running through old alleyways), a section of track running by the old Sprunk Factory that splits up, with one side leading into a bricked up tunnel. There is also a rail line running from a bricked up tunnel running from southern Alderney City through Normandy and Port Tudor, finally ending on a on an incline with several old pillars present on the other end (suggesting a bridge or elevated line) near northern Acter Industrial Park. A section of this track also runs onto one of the peirs in Port Tudor. This track is mostly intact, though several newer structures (roads, buildings) have been built over it.
In western East Island City exists a section of railway that leads from a bricked up tunnel west toward Algonquin, and stops facing that water, suggesting a bridge (possibly a Hell Gate Bridge replica, since it heads towards to Charge Island and is part of the subway) or waterside ferry/train transfer terminal may have at one point existed.
There also are two unused subway tunnels in the network, which form connections between two other lines, but are not part of regular subway routes: there is a tunnel which connects North Park Station to West Park Station and one which connects West Park Station to Frankfort High Station. Also, within the junction tunnel under Lancet, there are tracks which connect Easton Station to Manganese East Station. These tunnels would technically be used for alternative routes or for maintenance work, though there is no such in-game activity.
The subway system has four main lines, in pairs:
- The Algonquin Inner Line (Routes K & C) + Bohan Line (Routes E & B)
- The Algonquin Outer Line (Routes A & J) + Broker Line (Routes 8 & 3)
These four lines serve all boroughs of Liberty City, but do not serve the state of Alderney.
Algonquin Outer Line
- Route A trains run clockwise
- Route J trains run counter-clockwise
- At Easton, Route J trains become Route 3 for the Broker line
- At Manganese East, Route A trains become Route 8 for the Broker Line
- Route 8 trains run clockwise in Broker, counter-clockwise in Dukes
- Route 3 trains run counter-clockwise in Broker, clockwise in Dukes
- At Easton, Route 8 trains become Route A for the Algonquin Outer Line
- At Manganese East, Route 3 trains become Route J for the Algonquin Outer Line
Algonquin Inner Line
- Route K trains run clockwise
- Route C trains run counter-clockwise
- At Frankfort Low, Route K trains become Route E for the Bohan Line
- At Frankfort High, Route C trains become Route B for the Bohan line
- Route E trains run clockwise
- Route B trains run counter-clockwise
- At Frankfort High, Route E trains become Route K for the Algonquin Inner Line
- At Frankfort Low, Route B trains become Route C for the Algonquin Inner line
- There is a glitch in one of the underground entrances. If you drive into the fencing of the entrance around the back of them with the front of your car, head on, get out and then get in the passenger seat and reverse. As soon as you get back into the drivers seat, you should turn invisible in your car.
- Subway trains are impossible to destroy in normal gameplay.
On every train, the intercom voice is a pleasant woman:
"This is the J train. The Next Stop is: Manganese West Station - Leaving Quartz West."
Although, if the player attracts a 3 star Wanted Level and the vehicle is stopped by the Police, a man will say:
"This train terminates here, all change."
This is an example of an approach announcement, spoken by the woman:
"The Train is approaching Castle Gardens station." (This will sound about 7-8 seconds before the train actually reaches the station)