The NYC subway has been a work in progress since it was first launched in 1904. Since then, the NYC subway history has seen its successes and setbacks, with the 2014 opening of the pristine Fulton Center subway hub, the 2015 opening of the 34th Street / Hudson Yards station, and the 2017 opening of the Second Avenue Subway, 90 years in the making. All of these expansions were lauded as huge accomplishments, but then 2017 brought a year of derailments, delays, and disrepair that led Andrew Cuomo to declare a subway state of emergency. Newly appointed NYC Transit President Andy Byford recently announced a Fast Forward initiative that would bring major changes to the system over the next ten years including increased accessibility for riders with disabilities, upgraded signal systems, and hundreds of new subway cars. The changes will require some notable inconvenience such as sections of the subway being closed for repair on weekday nights, but Byford posits that the short term inconvenience will outweigh the ongoing and long-term problems that can no longer be ignored. With the good news that our NYC subway will be improving in the coming years, let’s review recent additions to our NYC subway as well as three upcoming MTA expansions (and other possible expansions) that riders of the NYC subway and other New York metro lines can look forward to.
Second Avenue Subway: Phases II, III, and IV
The continued expansion of the 2nd Avenue Subway is actively in the works, with the environmental impact review underway for Phase II and construction set to begin in 2019. Phase I gave us new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets along 2nd Avenue, and alleviated congestion for riders on the Lexington Avenue 4, 5, and 6 lines. The latest figures show approximately 200,000 daily riders on the new line, a noticeable difference in the number of riders along Lexington Avenue. Phase II will add an additional 1.5 mile stretch extending north from 96th Street. New stations will open on 2nd Avenue at 106th Street, 116th Street, and then on 125th Street on Lexington Avenue. Passenger service is slated to begin between 2027 and 2029. Dates for Phases III and IV are still to be determined, but the Second Avenue line will run from 125th Street to the Financial District once complete.
East Side Access
Another exciting project currently underway was first conceived in the 1950s and is slated for a 2022 launch. The East Side Access project will bring the creation of an 8-track, 4-platform terminal to Grand Central Station. The Long Island Rail Road line will provide convenient access from Long Island and Queens to the East Side of Manhattan to approximately 162,000 people daily. Commuters at Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn will breathe a sigh of relief at the reduced congestion they can expect when rail service begins.
Penn Station Access Project
Phase I of the Penn Station Access Project will give riders on Metro-North’s New Haven Line direct access to Penn Station and four new stations in the East Bronx: Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point. If Phase II gets funded, the Metro-North Hudson Line would ride along the waterfront and stop at Penn Station with two new stations built at West 125th Street and West 62nd Street. Phase I is still in the planning phase with service slated to begin after the launch of the East Side Access project, when less congestion from the LIRR at Penn Station will create space for the Metro-North trains.
Additional Plans and Proposals
Feasibility studies are currently underway for a subway station in Red Hook, a new line from Utica Avenue to Flatbush Avenue by Kings Plaza, and for the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach line, a 3.5 mile rail line that was abandoned in 1962 by the Long Island Rail Road. The line would connect with the NYC subway A and Brooklyn S lines and create a 40-minute commute from Midtown Manhattan to The Rockaways and JFK airport.
An additional (yet as of now, unapproved) proposal for the NYC subway and MTA expansion is The Triboro line, proposed by the Regional Plan Association as a way to reduce crowding and offer more equitable train access to New Yorkers in the outer boroughs. The above-ground train would run on an existing right-of way owned by Amtrak and CSX Corporation, greatly reducing the amount of time and money it would take to build. The 24-mile line would create 24 stations running between Co-op City in the Bronx and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. It would connect with 17 existing subway stations as well as four commuter train lines. The lines would reduce commuting times for New Yorkers by between 10 minutes to over 30 minutes.
Although the history of NYC subway delays teaches that some of these lines may open later than current timelines suggest, we share in every New Yorker’s excitement about the possibility of faster commutes and fewer transfers. We’ve already seen how the 2nd Avenue subway raised real estate prices along the new line; get a head start on finding a home along the upcoming NYC subway and New York metro lines by searching for homes below!