In the grand scheme of New York City’s subway system, the Smith/9th Sts. station along the IND Culver line isn’t a very popular one. Averaging just under 4000 passengers a day in 2010, it was only the 287th most popular stop around. Despite its low ridership, it is both one of the most picaresque and precarious in the city. The highest station in the system with views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline, the viaduct on which it sits has been draped in a protective sheathing for years, and the station has been badly in need of a rehab.
Since late 2007, the MTA had been planning a full station overhaul for the Smith/9th Sts. stop, and for the past few years, they have warned community boards and neighborhood groups of a looming 2011 full station closure. When the service cuts came last year, the authority warned that it would not be able to provide additional shuttle bus service, but when zero hour arrived yesterday and the MTA shuttered the station until next March, people were still upset.
Both Carroll Gardens’ Patch site and NY1 covered frustrated commuters, and the two resulting stories are among my favorites in local outrage. Red Hook residents, who clearly drew the short straw here, will have to take a bus ride either into Park Slope or Downtown Brooklyn to reach their trains, and while these folks complained the most about the state of the station and the safety concerns of the Culver Viaduct, they now are going to complain about the MTA’s fixing up the station as well.
My favorite quotes came from Henry Ramos who spoke to a Patch author. “I am pissed,” he said. “I’m like ‘What am I gonna do now?'” Ramos comes from Williamsburg regularly, and despite a partial platform closure for three months, numerous signs and years of outrage, he wanted even more signs that he probably wouldn’t have read anyway at the station.
Furthermore, he’s bemoaning the fact that the bus isn’t a free shuttle. “If you don’t got a MetroCard for the bus, you gotta walk,” he said. Does that mean he was hopping the turnstile to board the subway? If he has a MetroCard for the bus, he has a free transfer for the ride to Red Hook. But then again, it’s far easier to complain about something long expected than it is to plan ahead.
Once the work on the viaduct that doesn’t require trains to be re-routed is finished, the station will reopen. For those in Red Hook and the southern ends of Carroll Gardens, it’s going to be a long nine months.