2nd Phase of Second Avenue Subway Construction Delayed, Frustrating East Harlem Officials and Residents

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expressing dismay in a decision to delay construction on a new subway line.

The MTA announced that the second phase of the Second Ave. subway would be delayed beyond 2019.

The delay of that phase, which will stretch between 96th and 125th St. in Manhattan, outraged transit advocates and local officials. Construction on the second phase of the three East Harlem stations won’t start until 2020, despite assurances from de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo last week that it was on track.

Comptroller Scott Stringer said “promises have been broken,” as elected officials blasted the MTA for suddenly moving money out of the capital budget.

“This speaks so resoundingly of inequality,” said state Sen. Jose Serrano.

De Blasio on Thursday called for the delay and the MTA’s decision to cut $1 billion from its capital plan to be “reconsidered.” The mayor recently increased the city’s contribution to the MTA to a record $2.5 billion.

“Suddenly East Harlem gets cut out,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger. “It’s a bait and switch. I don’t even get it.”

A MTA spokesman said the phase was delayed because a tunnel boring machine wouldn’t be available. He added that time, not cash, is the real issue.

“If we had all the money in the world, we couldn’t have those tunnel boring machines moving by 2019,” said Adam Lisberg.

Meanwhile, those who live and work in East Harlem must continue their frustrating commutes.

“I walk to Lenox every day, back and forth 20 minutes,” said resident Alexa Laiacona.

“It would be helpful to have a station right here instead of walking two miles,” said Eric Barbosa.

The first phase of the Second Avenue subway, from 63rd St to 96th St, is slated to open next year.

MTA Service Bump Next June Won’t Keep Up With Growth in Subway Trips

Talk about running in place: At current growth rates in subway ridership, the service increases that NYC Transit is promising to roll out next June will probably be used up by April.

That doesn’t mean the increases are a bad idea, of course. Rather, it underscores the need for transformational increases in subway capacity, rather than incremental moves like the bump announced by the MTA last Friday.

Here’s the deal: Annual subway ridership increased every year from 2009 to 2014. (Data for 2015 aren’t in yet.) The 11 percent rise, to 1.75 billion trips last year from 1.58 billion in 2009, works out to an annual average increase of 2.1 percent. There are now 6 million subway trips on a good weekday, with some 90 percent of those trips, or 5.4 million, happening between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Just a single year’s growth, at 2.1 percent, amounts to 113,000 rides during that 15-hour peak.

By comparison, the 36 additional trains that NYC Transit intends to run on weekdays — 10 on the 1/2 line, six on the A/C/E, six on the J/M/Z, and 14 on the 4/5/6 — will add room for 45,900 additional passengers (multiplying 36 trains by 10 cars per train by 127.5 riders per car). Throw in 5,000 to 10,000 more spaces for the greater frequency promised on the 42nd Street Shuttle, and the total gain in capacity reaches 55,000 — enough to handle a mere six months’ worth of ridership growth.


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