These days the network is a serene, safe place where New Yorkers clamour to spend a part of their day. Or so its managers would have you believe.
Anyone who suggests otherwise - such as millions of New Yorkers, or makers of violent movies - should be banned from the city, the subway's managers say.
So no more French Connection (1971: crazed killer terrorises passengers); no more Taking of Pelham 123 (1974: subway car hijacked); no more Carlito's Way (1993: subway chase scene). And presumably, no more King Kong. Remember how the cornered giant gorilla tore up subway tracks?
'We've been very successful in the last few years in reducing violence and increasing ridership, and we want to protect our investment,' said a spokesman for the transit authority.
'We don't want bloody bodies strewn all over the place.' The authority recently refused to co-operate with a film about a mob chief based in the subway system. Censorship, cried film producers. 'What else are you going to film there? A love story?' asked one.
While muggings and murders are down, subway cars remain smelly (mostly from urine) and noisy, and citizens still wear their special 'don't bother me' faces.
The ban threatens to deprive the city of cash from film-makers, some of whom have been driven by high expenses to use lookalike locations such as Toronto.
It will be tested during the making of Columbia Pictures' Money Train, about policemen who hijack a train that collects fare tokens from stations. So far it is mild enough to pass muster. After all they are cops, not robbers.