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Map of the Day: Smith/9th closed until 2012

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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24 comments

Alex C June 21, 2011 - 3:08 pm

There are no words for the idiocy of the sheep. No words. They’re like 5-year-olds.

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Dan June 21, 2011 - 3:28 pm

For what it’s worth, the metrocard complaint is probably one about vending machines, and not about having to pay for a metrocard.

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Andrew June 22, 2011 - 6:54 am

Agreed, but it isn’t hard to keep track of your balance (or expiration date) and to buy your new MetroCards a day in advance.

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R. Graham June 21, 2011 - 3:28 pm

Hypocrisy at it’s worst. I love it!

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Alon Levy June 21, 2011 - 4:12 pm

Yeah, what Dan said. If your MetroCard runs out, you need a subway station to recharge it.

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Bolwerk June 21, 2011 - 5:05 pm

I’ve hopped buses without the metrocard and explained my situation to the driver, saying I’d get one when I got to the subway. I had a few dicks just not answer me, but most were completely understanding about that.

Nowadays I make a little show of putting in my expired card and saying, “OMFG, my unlimited ran out. Can I just get a new one at the subway?” (One driver advised me to always make a show of it. He said that he can see how much I pay, while a cop waiting in the back to write a ticket only sees whether I bothered trying.)

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Clarke June 21, 2011 - 7:31 pm

Or one can bring $2.25 in change to the bus. Not too difficult to scrounge up 9 quarters?

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Andrew June 22, 2011 - 6:53 am

But then you have to pay another fare for the subway.

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Bolwerk June 22, 2011 - 9:27 am

Bus transfers not working to get on the subway almost seems designed to waste poor people’s time and money.

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Andrew June 22, 2011 - 9:59 pm

Bus/subway transfers never existed (with a few specific exceptions) before MetroCard. When MetroCard was introduced, the decision was made to only extend the new transfer privileges to people who actually used MetroCards, so as to discourage coin usage.

I don’t see how this impacts poor people any more than anybody else. It’s only a hardship for people who rarely find themselves near subway stations but once in a while have to take the bus to the train. Regular riders can always plan ahead.

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Bolwerk June 22, 2011 - 11:37 pm

I know the history of it. You explain exactly why it impacts poorer people the most: they’re more likely to be bus-dependent and less likely to be able to afford a metrocard. In any case, that logic seems tenuous at best. The policy in place likely simply moves the coin usage to subway TVMs, and perhaps increases coin usage in the process in cases where payments need to be made twice.

OTOH, here we seem to have the only tacit acknowledgement by the MTA fathers that buses aren’t cheaper. :-p

Andrew June 23, 2011 - 7:14 am

It doesn’t affect the 100% bus-dependent at all – they don’t transfer to the subway. Nor does it markedly affect those who transfer every day from bus to subway – they just have to remember to buy their new MetroCards a day in advance.

Not sure what you mean my “less likely to be able to afford a metrocard.” A MetroCard costs $4.50, including two rides and two transfers. Transferring from bus to subway without a MetroCard costs $4.75. Why are the poor more likely to be able to afford $4.75 than $4.50?

Besides, many subway stations directly serve predominantly poor communities, and most of the truly affluent neighborhoods are nowhere near the subway (much of Staten Island, northeast Queens, northeast and northwest Bronx, parts of southeast Brooklyn). So I question your generalizations.

Skip Skipson June 21, 2011 - 8:41 pm

Will Ikea increase their shuttle bus service? LOL.

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Andrew June 22, 2011 - 6:55 am

Red Hook residents are actually the least inconvenienced: most of them are already on the bus, now they just have to stay on the same bus for a few extra stops.

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Matthew T. June 22, 2011 - 8:02 am

A short bus ride to a train isn’t a big deal, wow some people complain too much about little things. B57 or B61 to catch the (F) or (G) isn’t too much of a hassle when you think about it.

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Al D June 22, 2011 - 9:06 am

Agree in concept. But without increasing B57 service, would there be capacity issues?

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Andrew June 22, 2011 - 10:00 pm

Doubtful. Even with the additional riders due to the station closure, the peak load point on the B57 is probably nowhere near its southern terminal.

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MTA Spends 4 Years Warning People; People Caught Off Guard | insignificant thoughts June 22, 2011 - 8:34 am

[…] 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. via secondavenuesagas.com […]

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Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines June 22, 2011 - 8:56 am

[…] Smith/9th Street Station Closed for Repairs for Next Nine Months (2nd Ave Sagas) […]

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Danny G June 22, 2011 - 9:49 am

Quick bike ride to either Carroll St or 4th Ave – 9th St Stations. $50 bike + $80 lock will save you 20 minutes each day. How much do you value your time?

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Alon Levy June 22, 2011 - 1:31 pm

$80 lock means your bike will get stolen in 6 hours instead of 15 minutes.

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Andrew June 22, 2011 - 10:04 pm

20 minutes each day? But it’s only a 7 minute walk from Smith-9 to Carroll – even walking will cost at most 14 minutes each day (assuming one round trip per day), or less if your origin/destination is north or east of Smith-9.

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JSBertram June 22, 2011 - 9:01 pm

picaresque?

perhaps you meant picturesque?

(Damm that Spanish spell-checking feature)

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Smith/9th Sts. set to reopen next Friday :: Second Ave. Sagas April 19, 2013 - 2:34 pm

[…] 26 at 10:30 a.m., agency spokesman Kevin Ortiz just announced via Twitter. The station closed in June of 2011 and was supposed to reopen mid-2012. But delays due to both the normal course of work and […]

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