Category Archives: Subway

Rockaway Beach Rail Line in New York City

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and federal and city politicians last Thursday called on the MTA to conduct a feasibility study on utilizing the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and other rights-of-way in the five boroughs.

“There is no greater asset to our transit network than existing rights-of-way. With the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and the other underutilized rights-of-way throughout the city, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make lasting improvements to our transportation network and meet the demands of our growing populations,” Goldfeder said during a meeting of the City Council’s Committee on Transportation. “As Queens residents, we are not asking for more than others, but rather for a fair share, to give our families the opportunity to thrive and grow.”

Goldfeder was joined by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and a supporter of restoring the abandoned rail line.

“Restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line would not only provide much needed fast and efficient train service to the Rockaways and southern Queens but would enable a true one-seat ride to Kennedy Airport from Manhattan,” Nadler said in a statement.

Goldfeder was testifying in favor of a resolution proposed by committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), which calls on the MTA to “conduct a comprehensive study of unused and underutilized railroad rights-of-way in New York City for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of increased passenger service along such corridors.”

In a statement, Rodriguez indicated support for the Rockaway Beach Rail Line to be studied, among others in the city.

“With the MTA struggling for capital dollars for maintenance nonetheless expansion, it is incumbent on our city to evaluate the best and cheapest way to expand our public transit system: unused and lightly used rail,” he said. “Lines like the Rockaway Beach Line are ripe for development with minimal city and state funding, all we need to do is tap into these resources.”

During his testimony, Goldfeder pointed out the abandoned rail line would cost less to restore than the construction of the decades-in-the-making Second Avenue subway line.

“Phase I of the Second Avenue subway project will cost $4.45 billion to build less than 2 miles of track. By contrast, reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line could cost as little as $1 billion to create 3.5 miles of new train lines on the existing right-of-way,” the assemblyman said.

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New York City getting easier to get around

Navigating the crowded streets of New York may be getting easier for millions of business travelers as the city sees the biggest boost in public transportation in recent memory.

On Sept. 13, the city opened the first new subway station in 26 years, ushering conference goers to the doorstep of the once isolated Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. A citywide ferry system will extend service to the city’s outer boroughs over the next three years. The city’s bike share program is rapidly expanding, expected to double by 2017. And an app, created by the company that provides payment technology to over 60% of New York City cabs, has become the latest to allow riders to hail a taxi with the tap of a button.

So many options, says Chris Heywood, spokesman for the city’s destination marketing organization NYC & Company, “just makes the city more appealing and is a huge selling point for us as we try to draw more business travelers, more convention delegates and more leisure visitation.’’

Last year, a record 56.4 million people visited New York City, 12.2 million of them here on business, NYC & Company says.

Now, the 6.3 million people expected to attend meetings and conferences here this year no longer have to trek blocks or hunt for a cab to get to the city’s convention center, which lies a stone’s throw from the Hudson River. Last week, the 7 subway line began stopping at 34th Street and 11th Ave., the only subway stop south of 59th Street on the far West Side.

“The extension of the 7 line to the far West Side is a game changer in many ways, especially from a business  travel perspective,’’ Heywood said of the $2.42 billion project.

The city’s subway system will gain an even more significant addition next year, when the first phase of a new Second Avenue line is expected to be finished in December. It will mark the first major expansion of the city’s subway network in over half a century.

“The number 7 and opening of the Second Avenue subway … reflect a serious recognition we have to invest in our infrastructure,’’ says Mitchell  Moss, director of NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation. The numerous other  transportation initiatives taking place are significant as well. “We’ve spent a lot on fixing, repairing and investing in the maintenance of the system. But it’s also clear we can’t just maintain it. We need to expand it. That’s the real change.’’

Citi Bike, New York’s bike share program, will increase from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes in the next two years. Bicycles became available in Queens for the first time last month, and new stations will soon be popping up on Manhattan’s Upper East and West side, and deeper into the borough of Brooklyn.

There are also plans to expand the city’s ferry service by 2018 to the Lower East Side, Astoria, Queens and other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

For those visitors who prefer cabs to ferries and trains, there is now another app allowing a cab to be summoned via a tap on a smartphone.

Way2ride’s hailing function launched in July. The app is from Verifone, which provides in-cab technologies to nearly 14,000 of the city’s 20,000 yellow and green cabs. It is joining over 70 apps for taxis and hired car services, including Uber and Lyft, that are in New York City according to the NYU’s Rudin Center.

“What the last few years have shown is there is a demand among consumers for the ability to hail a cab with a phone … and we’re in a unique position to be able to provide the scale that consumers would expect of a taxi-hailing app,’’ says Jason Gross, vice president of strategy and innovation for Verifone, adding that would-be riders who’ve downloaded the Way2ride app can send requests to a taxi’s existing equipment.  The app, which previously just facilitated the payment of the driver, will roll out the e-hail function in several other cities, including Miami, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C., in October.

Heywood says that it’s not just the accessibility of New York’s public transit that makes it appealing to visitors, but the affordability as well.

“We’re not a city that requires you to rent a car,’’ said Heywood who noted that unlike some other cities where the price of a subway ride increases based on geographic zones, a business trekker or tourist can travel from Manhattan to Coney Island for $2.75. “Take the Citi Bike … pick up a ferry, then take a subway. There’s so many different ways you can mix and match all of our public transportation options and really have fun with it as well.’’

Second Avenue Subway’s Next Phase Threatened With Delay’s

The MTA’s perennially plagued new subway line may be opening as soon as 2017, but its second phase is still without funding and no one’s happy about that. On Monday, MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast announced that if the city doesn’t give the cash-strapped agency the additional $3.2 billion its seeking for its budget, it’ll make good on its promise to put the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway off until a later date, the Post reports. Under mounting fiscal struggles, the MTA previously announced that the subway’s second phase would be the first project to get chopped from its five-year capital plan if state and federal governments didn’t pony up. The subway’s second phase would extend the line from 96th Street to 125th Street.

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New 7 train station at 11th Ave. finally opening in September: MTA

A vintage No. 7 train pulls into the Shea Stadium stop in Queens for the MTA’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Flushing line. Next month, the new 7 train station on Manhattan’s west side will finally open.

One of the longest delays in the subway system will finally come to an end with the opening next month of the newest station on the No. 7 line, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Thursday.
After years of snags and slowdowns, the new 34th St.-Hudson Yards station — extending the line from its current terminus at Times Square to 11th Ave. on Manhattan’s far west side — is set to debut Sunday, Sept. 13 at 1 p.m.
The first train run for paying passengers will arrive nearly two years after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg — whose administration largely financed the project — took his “inaugural” ride before leaving City Hall in December 2013.
“Happy to be near the finish line,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. “The 1.5 mile extension of the 7 Line to 34 St-11 Av will make it the only line south of 59 St to provide service west of Ninth Avenue.”
Since work began in 2007, the $2.4 billion extension has been beset with problems with key communications, fire alarm, power and ventilation systems.
The new subway stop will serve the burgeoning far west side of Manhattan, where the 17 million-square-foot Hudson Yards retail and residential development is being built.
“I feel pretty confident that the 7 train extension is going to be heavily used almost immediately,” said Councilman Corey Johnson, who represents the area.

New York rail networks are bursting at the seams; investment is key

The subway and regional rail networks are the lifeblood of New York City. Like the veins and arteries of the human body, the trains keep people circulating freely and make life possible in the dense city. Unfortunately, a lack of investment and political will to expand the system means the rail networks are bursting at the seams each and every day.

While the subway system is a far cry from its dilapidated 1980s state, troubles that other subway systems around the world have managed to overcome impact it on a daily basis. The walls are stained with unidentifiable sludge, stairways crumble under the feet of passengers, and trains arrive only on their terms regardless of schedule. Technology that has become standard everywhere else, such as contactless payment and arrival countdown clocks, is still for the most part just a dream in New York.

On average, the New York City subway system transports more than five and a half million people every single weekday, totaling an astronomical 1.75 billion passengers in 2014, the highest ridership in more than 65 years. Operated and maintained by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a state entity, New York City itself only contributes pennies on the dollar to the system, with the de Blasio administration only recently upping the city contribution to just over $100 million of the multi-billion dollar budget.

As the outer boroughs of New York City continue to be rezoned and built up, the subway is not expanding and improving to meet the new needs to a growing city. On an average day, many riders find themselves unable to board several trains that arrive at their station as they are already full with not a square inch to spare.

How New York’s Perfect Subway System Was Derailed by the 1929 Stock Market Crash

Complaints about the inadequacies of New York’s subway system are nothing new. Back in the 1920s, as the benefits of subterranean transport became clear (early worries that riders would choke on underground air had been quickly dispelled), city residents began clamoring for more service to more parts of the city and additional lines to take pressure off the packed trains passing through downtown and midtown Manhattan.

But the city’s privately owned subway operators, the Interborough Rapid Transit Co. (IRT) and the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Co. (BMT), were slow to the task. Focused on securing a monopoly on underground commuters, they’d laid the first lines with alacrity. (They had the added incentive of exploiting the new transit lines to speculate on newly accessible land in the outer boroughs, a fact that helps to explain why the then-undeveloped north Bronx got a subway in 1917 but the jam-packed East Village is still waiting in 2015.) But building tunnels and laying track was expensive, and after initial expansion the private companies were happier just to rake in fares, especially under the sweetheart contracts the city had provided, which allowed them to extract profits before repaying the city’s costs.

And so City Hall decided to take matters into its own hands. Mayor John Hylan, an avowed foe of the private subway lines, drew up what would become the IND (for Independent) system: a city-owned and -operated subway, with lines running up Sixth and Eighth avenues in Manhattan and out into the boroughs along the Grand Concourse (today’s B and D), Queens Boulevard (the E and F), Fulton Street (A and C), and Smith Street (F), as well as the city’s first cross-town line connecting Brooklyn and Queens (the G).

Once ground was broken on those, the city announced what would be an even more ambitious plan: the Second System, a network of eighteen new lines and hundreds more miles of track that would have brought subway service to almost every corner of New York. A Second Avenue line was to replace the Third Avenue elevated in Manhattan, the future F train would continue east from Second Avenue under the East River to Williamsburg and ultimately via Utica Avenue all the way to Sheepshead Bay, and new lines would venture out along such now-obscure roadways as Lafayette Avenue in the east Bronx and Horace Harding Boulevard (now the Long Island Expressway) in Queens.

Things were looking bright for New York City subway riders. The date was September 15, 1929.

Following the Wall Street crash and the onset of the Great Depression, most of the Second System plans were mothballed, though a few remnants were built, including the beginnings of a massive six-track station that was to be located at South 4th Street in Williamsburg. (The empty station shell still exists, though a more visible artifact survives in the name of the IND’s oddly monikered West 4th Street station, which got “West” appended to avoid confusion with the never-built South 4th.) The Third Avenue el was torn down in 1955, but work on the Second Avenue subway didn’t begin until 1972 — and then ground to a halt three years later, amid the city’s fiscal crisis.

If the first stretch, which will divert a branch of the Q line from 59th Street to 96th Street, opens next December as planned, it will be precisely 87 years and three months after it was proposed. (The MTA hasn’t set a target date for the second phase, which would extend the line to 125th Street, and the agency’s current capital budget doesn’t even include plans for the final stage, a new line called the T, which would run all the way down to Hanover Square in the financial district.)

Once ground was broken on those, the city announced what would be an even more ambitious plan: the Second System, a network of eighteen new lines and hundreds more miles of track that would have brought subway service to almost every corner of New York. A Second Avenue line was to replace the Third Avenue elevated in Manhattan, the future F train would continue east from Second Avenue under the East River to Williamsburg and ultimately via Utica Avenue all the way to Sheepshead Bay, and new lines would venture out along such now-obscure roadways as Lafayette Avenue in the east Bronx and Horace Harding Boulevard (now the Long Island Expressway) in Queens.

Things were looking bright for New York City subway riders. The date was September 15, 1929.

Following the Wall Street crash and the onset of the Great Depression, most of the Second System plans were mothballed, though a few remnants were built, including the beginnings of a massive six-track station that was to be located at South 4th Street in Williamsburg. (The empty station shell still exists, though a more visible artifact survives in the name of the IND’s oddly monikered West 4th Street station, which got “West” appended to avoid confusion with the never-built South 4th.) The Third Avenue el was torn down in 1955, but work on the Second Avenue subway didn’t begin until 1972 — and then ground to a halt three years later, amid the city’s fiscal crisis.

If the first stretch, which will divert a branch of the Q line from 59th Street to 96th Street, opens next December as planned, it will be precisely 87 years and three months after it was proposed. (The MTA hasn’t set a target date for the second phase, which would extend the line to 125th Street, and the agency’s current capital budget doesn’t even include plans for the final stage, a new line called the T, which would run all the way down to Hanover Square in the financial district.)