Over the weekend, I began hearing some speculation that the New York City MTA was going to reopen the “newer” South Ferry subway station on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. If such an opening were to materialize, it would mean that the “newer” station would be open by the July 4th holiday, and would also solidify the “hints” that the MTA was dropping in their notification of weekend service changes for the (2) and (3) trains.
Sure enough, that speculation proved to be true…
…Gone are the days of hearing trains screech their wheels at the South Ferry Loops…
…Gone are the mad rush hour shuffles to get to the first five cars of the train to get off at the South Ferry Loops…
…And gone are the other knacks associated with boarding trains at the South Ferry Loops – the announcements, the conductor routines, having to maintain antiquated gap fillers, etc.
…All thanks to hard work and yes, tons of funding, to get the “newer” station back online…just a bit over four years after the loops reopened, and almost five years since SuperStorm Sandy flooded much of Lower Manhattan’s subway tunnels.
The MTA’s “Fix & Fortify” Capital Program, launched after the devastation caused by Sandy, is aimed at rebuilding and restoring storm-damaged infrastructure that the agency owns and operates. This work has encompassed numerous projects, but the South Ferry station restoration project has been among the largest to date – costing $344 million dollars (that’s over half the amount spent on constructing the station in the first place, which was $500 million). In addition to restoring storm-damaged infrastructure, the MTA is also making efforts to strengthen its transit network against future storms. One of the most noticeable features of the newly reopened South Ferry is the addition of heavy metal flood doors at the station’s entrances – designed to keep flood waters out of the station.
Other features that customers may notice different from the original opening of the “newer” station in 2009 include LED lighting (the original station had fluorescent lights), larger station name text font along the platform walls (the original station name text font was very small), and of course the addition of Wi-Fi service (so that customers can surf the web while waiting for their train). Of course, long-time customers can’t help but notice how the “newer” station handles more trains than the loops can – not to mention that all 10 cars of the train can be boarded without major issues.
So with all of these new bells and whistles in place for the “newer” South Ferry, let’s just hope that no more large storms come around and flood the station again.
The final countdown is on for the many transit fans in New York City to get photos and videos of the old South Ferry Loop subway station before it shuts down for good.
While an official reopening date has yet to be announced by the New York City MTA for the “newer” South Ferry platform – which was damaged by SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, hints have been dropping that the “newer” station will be open before the July 4th holiday. This flyer regarding weekend work on the (2) and (3) lines states that the (2) will detour down the South Ferry-bound tracks to terminate at Rector St during the weekends of June 19th and 26th, but afterward, trains would terminate at the “newer” South Ferry.
I can only guess that at this point, the MTA does not want to announce a date too soon when work is still wrapping up on the rebuilding of the “newer” station. There has been quite a lot of work done on the station and some work will continue on even after the “newer” platforms have reopened. One key element that will be present when the reopening does happen is the water-tight doors that will seal off the platform section if flooding occurs. I’m also hearing that the rebuilt platform will pretty much look identical to how it did when it first opened in 2009, but with some cosmetic changes and LED lighting (instead of fluorescent).
So with all of this said, you might be wondering, “why not just have the (2) train service the South Ferry Loop when it’s being detoured?” From my understanding, the MTA is concerned that rail operators on the (2) and (3) trains might not have the proper training to operate the train doors properly. Only the first five cars of the train can be opened at the loop, a key reason why the “newer” station was built (it was not feasible to expand the loop to accommodate 10-car trains).
To wrap things up, I’m very glad that I got to visit New York City while the South Ferry Loop was still open. I’ll discuss the loop more during my Transit Tourism series on my recent trip. But in the meantime, I already have a video up on YouTube showing the loop, and the adjoining Whitehall St station, that you can watch. I will make an update to this post when the official reopening date for the “newer” South Ferry platform is announced.
I originally published this post back on 06/20/2017 as part of my blog post series about my 2017 New York City trip. However, I was unable to previously complete the series because of how I structured the first several posts.
Under my original plan, I laid out up to 60 different posts regarding the trip & my various transit sightings & rides – which proved to be too time consuming to do. As a result, I halted the series after Part 5 was published & spent several months as to how to carry forth future posts.
Now, with my 2019 San Francisco trip completed, I wanted to re-launch the NYC series under my new project called Journeys Afar. This project will roll in all of my out-of-town travel logs into a creative format that I can convey to my readers.
So without further ado, here’s my original post – but in the new WordPress format.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve done a Transit Tourism post, and I really haven’t been able to get this series off the ground due to other priorities. However, I’m sure that many of you have seen at least one photo or video of my recent travels through New York City, and I want to be able to share my experiences with you. I’ve actually taken three trips now to the Big Apple – one in April of 1997, the second in March of 2011, and the third – and most recent one – in May of 2017.
My 1997 trip was for a family wedding, and I truly enjoyed being able to spend time with them and also do a lot of sightseeing. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos documenting my transit rides from 1997 because the camera that my father was carrying got lost during our trip, and thus 95% of the photos we took had vanished forever. I can tell you though that we rode the (7) train between Flushing – Main St and Times Square – 42nd St quite a lot. It was our main avenue between Queens and Manhattan since my dad didn’t want to battle the busy Manhattan traffic all the time. Back in 1997, the famed “Redbird” trains – dating back to the 1964 World’s Fair and before – were still running along the (7). It would not be until a year later that the New York MTA would announce that all of the “Redbirds” would be replaced by sleek, modern R-142 and R-142A railcars.
In 2011, I made a return trip to New York City via Newark to visit my family and to do another round of sightseeing. Since most of my stay was devoted to family time, I didn’t place a huge emphasis on transit fanning, and thus did not take a lot of photos of the buses and trains. I was, however, able to ride the (6), (J), and (R) trains through lower and midtown Manhattan, as well as take the PATH Subway from Exchange Place into Manhattan, and also ride a New Jersey Transit bus from Manhattan to Fort Lee, NJ. You can find my 2011 transit photo collection (though a small one) on my Facebook Page. I will have those same photos copied over to the website as I build my New York City Transit sections.
So what brought me back to New York City this year? Well, to keep things short; my stepfather travels on business a lot and he had a flight voucher that he was no longer going to use, so he offered it to me. I then pondered, what destinations could I use the voucher for? It didn’t take me very long to decide on the Big Apple, and why not? I was originally not planning on traveling to New York again until around 2020. But with the South Ferry Loop closing down by July in favor of the “newer” rebuilt station, I wanted to make sure that I was able to photograph a piece of New York City Transit history before it gets riddled in graffiti. Since I wanted to be close to the transit action in Manhattan, I decided to stay at the Morningside Inn, located on 207th St in the Morningside Heights district of Manhattan. The district sits between the Hudson River and the northwest section of Central Park and is just a stone’s throw away from Columbia University. The district also serves as the western terminus for the M60 Select Bus Service line from LaGuardia Airport, and one can easily transfer over to the (1) train via the 103rd St or 110th St (Cathedral Pkwy) stations.
In addition to spending some time with my relatives in NJ again, I made sure to make visits to the Bronx Zoo, the World Trade Center memorial park, and also the New York Transit Museum. I also managed to make two trips to Coney Island (though I did not stay there for very long). Overall, my trip was very enjoyable, even though it was shorter in duration than my 2011 trip (my 2011 trip included six full days whereas my 2017 trip only included three full days). However, I was able to accomplish quite a bit in the course of four days, including the above, plus rides on the (1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (B), (F), (G), (J), (L), (N), (Q), (R), (W), and (Z) trains, plus the 42nd St Shuttle in midtown Manhattan. In addition, I took a ride on five MTA bus lines – the Bx12-SBS, the Q44-SBS, the M60-SBS, the M72 Crosstown, and the M79 Crosstown – as well as a round trip on the PATH Subway between 33rd St and Newport (formerly known as Pavonia-Newport).
If you’d like to see all of the transit lines that I’ve traversed during my three trips to New York, please view the map below. In the coming weeks, I will be putting forth subsequent episodes detailing segments of my 2017 trip and what I was able to observe.
You’ll see in the map that I’ve documented all transit lines that I’ve been on, including ones during my previous two trips. The neat thing about Google Maps is that you can customize the map (through the Google My Maps interface) by drawing lines and such, and then adding in different layers. I especially like the layers because you can show which ones you want to view, so if you only want to view the lines I took during my 2017 trip, you can simply uncheck the boxes for my 1997 and 2011 trips.
It’s a long time coming for the New York City Subway – the return of “W” service to Manhattan and Queens!
Back in 2009, during the height of the recession – many transit agencies were forced to cut back service in order to trim down their budgets. This came at a time when transit ridership was hitting all-time highs due to higher gas prices and unstable economic conditions. The New York City MTA was not immune to these circumstances and enacted a rash of service cuts in 2010 that included the elimination of the “W”, replacing it with “Q” service in Queens.
Fast forward to 2016 and the Second Ave Subway – which has been marred in delay after delay during the past several decades – is set to open its first segment this December. In preparation for the launch of “Q” service to 96th St, the MTA is bringing back the “W” to compensate for the loss of service that the re-alignment of the “Q” will bring to Queens. These changes in fact; will bring the “N”, “Q”, “R”, and “W” trains all back to their pre-2010 levels – except of course that the “Q” stays in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The MTA has put together a comprehensive guide to the realigned services, including where and when you can catch each train. Please be sure to pay close attention so that you can plan out your commute. The realigned services kick off on Monday, November 7, 2016, with the first “W” trains departing at 6:30am.
Oh, that South Ferry…
Because the “W” terminates at the Whitehall St/South Ferry station in Manhattan, I thought that this would be a good time to also post an update on the reconstruction of the “newer” South Ferry station for the “1” train. As many know, the “newer” station was damaged due to Superstorm Sandy.
Since earlier this year, work officially began on gutting out and rebuilding the “newer” South Ferry “1” platforms – which lie below the “older”, curvier “1” platform. In addition, the “newer” entrances to the station’s mezzanine level have also been undergoing reconstruction – namely replacing the elevators and escalators in and out of the station. As a result – customers have been having to rely on the “older” entrances at Whitehall St and the Staten Island Ferry building to access the “older” platform for the “1”. The free connection between the “R” and the “1” continues to be maintained via the mezzanine passageway between the respective platforms.
With the return of the “W”, all station signage is being updated to reflect the connection to the revived service and this will no doubt bring forth a very rare opportunity for transit fans to get photography and video action of the “1”, “N”, “R”, and “W” trains together while the “older” “1” platforms remain open. As I will say right now, enjoy this opportunity while it lasts! Because come the fall of 2017, the “older” “1” platform will close (very likely forever this time) in lieu of the “newer” platform reopening.
On Sunday, September 13, 2015, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York opened its 469th subway station on Manhattan’s West Side! The new 34th St/Hudson Yards station for the busy Line 7, which runs from Manhattan to Flushing, marks the beginning of a new era where an area of New York City now has access to subway service.
An overview of Line 7
Line 7, commonly referred to locally as the “7-Train” first opened on June 22, 1915 between Grand Central Station and the Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue Station. On March 14, 1927, the previous western terminus at Times Square opened, with the current eastern terminus at Flushing – Main Street opening a few months later on January 2, 1928. Express services have been in place on much of the Queens segment, by which is mostly elevated, since 1917 – though there have been periods by which express services were suspended for a time. Local services are distinguished by a circle on signs whereas express services are distinguished with a diamond. Both shields are in a raspberry color with the “7” in white – as show at the top of this post.
The entire line itself is currently undergoing a massive modernization project that will bring forth the latest generation of railcars, the R-188 (though some railcars are actually converted R-142A cars), along with Communication-Based Train Control (or CBTC). The latter will allow trains to run more efficiently under the Automatic Train Control (ATO) system that is currently used on many subway lines in Paris, France. The older R-62A that originally ran on Lines 3 and 6 are gradually being replaced by the newer stock, allowing them to be shifted to other compatible lines. It is to note that the entire New York City subway system is not streamlined on the same rail gauge due to the system being constructed by different companies during the early 1900s.
The last stronghold for the “Redbirds”
In 1997, I had an opportunity to ride Line 7 for the first time while in Flushing for a family wedding. At this point in time, the 7 was being operated with “Redbird” (R33 WF and R36 WF) railcars from the the 1960s – which were used during the World’s Fair (these were known for their red color, though they were originally painted in turquoise). There were several instances where my family and I rode trains from Flushing – Main Street to either Grand Central or Times Square. Riding the “Redbirds” was definitely a sight in its own respect, especially being that they all have since been retired – being replaced by R-142 and R-142A stock. Perhaps on day, I’ll be able to hitch a ride on a heritage train trip using one of these wonderful railcars.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the subway from my 1997 trip.
Below is a listing of all stations along Line 7. <E> indicators are present for express services.
Flushing – Main Street <E> Mets – Willets Point <E>
103rd St – Corona Plaza Junction Blvd <E>
90th Street – Elmhurst Avenue
82nd Street – Jackson Heights
74th Street – Broadway
69th Street 61st Street – Woodside <E>
46th Street – Bliss Street
40th Street – Lowery Street
33rd Street – Rawson Street Queensboro Plaza <E> Court Square <E> Hunter’s Point Ave <E> Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue <E>
—EAST RIVER— Grand Central Station <E> Fifth Avenue <E> Times Square <E>
10th Avenue (Provisional Station – Not yet funded) 34th Street – Hudson Yards <E>
Extending Line 7 westward or southwestward has been in the books since the 1990s, although a longer range proposal to eventually carry the line all the way into New Jersey appears to be dead. The 34th St – Hudson Yards station was originally a part of New York City’s bid for the 2012 Olympics, which London eventually earned. The station was originally projected to open in 2013, but was delayed several times – partly due to the Olympics going to London, but later due to problems with installing the inclined elevators. The elevators – a first for New York City’s subway system – were installed due to the station’s depth. While there are escalators available, the elevators serve as the main point of egress between the upper mezzanine (fare control) and the lower mezzanine, as well as to comply with ADA requirements. Below the lower mezzanine is the the island train platform and the dual tracks. To the south of the station is a garage to store trains overnight, something not possible at the previous terminus at Times Square.
A provisional station is located at Tenth Avenue and was slated to be built in the original plans, but after the 2012 Olympic bid went to London, the plans were dropped due to funding constraints.
New subway station openings can be a fanfare for transit fans, and as such was definitely the case for 34th St/Hudson Yards. While the fanfare is more subtle in other cities like Paris, it is quite impossible to hold back hundreds of budding railfans from getting their first glimpse of the new station. Simply do a search on YouTube for “hudson yards subway” and you’ll see what I mean.
There’s been quite a lot going on this week in respects to public transit. Rather than creating 6 or 7 different posts, I’ve decided to list everything in one single post. Each tidbit of transit news is grouped by geographical region (or Focus Area) that I cover.
I know I’ve been talking quite a lot about the Paris Metro as of late. However, I don’t want to leave the New York City Subway out of my discussions, as there’s much to talk about on that system. Particularly, I will be speaking of news that the New York City MTA will be, for the first time in the agency’s history, reopening a previously closed subway station.
During the lifetime of a subway system, many stations may permanently be closed to passengers for a variety of reasons. Common reasons include: the distance of the station in comparison to adjacent stations (stations too close to each other), cost of maintaining the station (too expensive to maintain and keep open), and the design of the station (either the station is obsolete or too oddball to keep open). In any case, once a subway station is permanently closed to passengers, passenger access will be permanently sealed and trains will simply pass through the corridor without stopping.
The photo featured in this post was taken by me (HARTride 2012) during my 2011 visit to New York City.
Grand Central Terminal, located in the heart of New York City, reached a significant milestone…it’s Centennial Birthday! 100 Years! With that said, I would like to take some time to share my own travels through Grand Central.
The first time that I traveled through Grand Central was in October of 1997, when my family and I rode Line 7 from Flushing (located in the borough of Queens) into the heart of Manhattan. During this time, the World’s Fair era “Redbird” trains were still in operation along Line 7 (and continued to operate on the line until 2003). However, I was far too young at the time to really appreciate the grandeur of Grand Central Terminal and I didn’t have much time to look around the station either, because my family and I were doing a lot of sightseeing.
My second visit to Grand Central in March of 2011 was much more humbling, as I was able to spend some time looking around the station’s many shops, snap some pictures of the main hall, and eat lunch (New York style pizza) in the underground food court. The thing I like the most about Grand Central is the main hall, and all of its beauty. From 1994 through the 2000s, Grand Central underwent a massive renovation to modernize and restore the facility. One of the key restoration projects was the ceiling of the main hall, which comprises of a painted mosaic. Over time, shopping and dining establishments were added to the facility to allow passengers to grab a quick bite to eat, and do a bit of shopping while waiting for their next train. In fact, according to the Grand Central Terminal website, there are nearly 70 shops and 35 dining establishments for passengers to take advantage of. One of the businesses in the terminal opened on December 9, 2011…can you guess which business this is? Find out the answer by clicking “Continue Reading”.
I know that I’ve been lagging behind on posting as of late. I’ve been trying to get into a regular schedule, but November and December have been much busier than I thought. Holiday event planning is definitely no easy task, and I’ve been having to help my family out with several different events that took place during the past couple months. Add to that; my computer problems during August and September, and my hiatus from earlier in the year. I know that in the end, I probably let down some of my viewers, and I sincerely apologize for that. I hope that with the new year, I can finally devote some time to make some major updates.
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I would like to wish you, and your family a very Merry Christmas! I certainly hope that you are able to enjoy this wonderful day, no matter where you are located!
With all this said, I would like to take some time to reflect back on some of the major transit-related developments that occurred in 2012. I have grouped everything by month, and color coded each event as they pertain to the particular focus region that I cover in my blog.
BLUE: Tampa Bay (HART, PSTA, MCAT, SCAT, PCPT, Hernando THEbus, Citrus County Transportation)