Something like 1.1 million riders pass through the subway stations along 42nd Street each day, so yeah, they’re crowded. At Times Square alone, the N,Q,R,W,1,2,3,7 and the shuttle to Grand Central disgorge thousands of straphangers into a shabby warren of passageways that makes it difficult and unpleasant to connect from one line to the next. So it’s presumably a good thing that the MTA has announced a major overhaul of the 42nd Street subway corridor to the tune of $750 million.
That’s three quarters of $1 billion, which supposedly represents a $10 million savings from the project’s initial price tag. But seeing as how infrastructure improvements in NYC are notorious for going over budget, you have to figure that the final bill could be much more.
So what can you expect for all of that money? The central part of the plan entails a complete overhaul of the venerable shuttle, a remnant of the first subway line, which opened in 1904 and went from City Hall to West 125th Street by going crosstown along the shuttle’s current route. The upgrades will include expanding four-car trains to six-train cars, consolidating the three tracks currently in use into two tracks separated by a center platform, and replacing the 1930s-vintage signal system.
The other big change will be increased accessibility for disabled riders, with more elevators and special entrances by the turnstiles. Also, tracks will be straightened to remove gaps between the platform and cars. The entire job will be finished by 2025.
So, sounds good, right? Still, one thing is missing: reducing the number of tourists that get in your way.