Dec
21

A future for Roosevelt Island, but what of transportation?

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Roosevelt Island will soon be transformed into an applied sciences campus run by Cornell.

Much like wide swaths of New York City outside of Manhattan south of 96th Street, Roosevelt Island has long been fetishized as a strange “other” amidst the urban life of New York City. Cut off from both Manhattan and Queens by water, the largely residential island with a few hospitals sits amidst the East River. The 59th St. Bridge passes over it, and only the F train, the Q0102 and a tram — how neat! — service the island. Its residents love it for its access and idyllic qualities amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.

With the announcement earlier this week, though, of a brand new applied sciences campus run by Cornell University on the souther end of the two-mile landmass, life could change on Roosevelt Island. The school will start to open in 2017, and city officials expect it to be fully built out by 2027. The plans call for housing for 2500 students and another 280 faculty members, and the Economic Development Corp. says the campus alone will create 8000 new jobs. For an island with 12,000 residents, those totals represent a large influx of people.

Already, transportation advocates are casting a wary eye on the project. In a lengthy press release on the campus, the word “transportation” appears just once, and it’s unclear at this stage how Cornell will improve accessibility to the southern part of the island. It’s a manageable half-mile walk from the F train, but that walk is a relatively long one compared with how close, say, Columbia, NYU and Fordham are to their nearest train stops.

In a post yesterday, Cap’n Transit wondered how Roosevelt Island would remain relatively car-free. The infrastructure on the island can’t really support a huge influx of cars as it is even as the current hospital areas near where the campus will go up are relatively car-heavy. “Let’s hope,” the Cap’n writes, “that the Cornell and Technion designers have more vision than they showed in that lame fly-through, and that they build something urban and scholarly, with really narrow streets, like in Paris’s Latin Quarter. Let’s hope that they don’t think they’re too good to take the train to work, or at least to park at the Motorgate and take the bus. But if they do, let’s hope that Bloomberg, Steel and the RIOC will make them do the right thing.”

One potential “right thing” could involve exploring a new subway stop for the island. The 53rd St. tunnel passes directly underneath what will be the southern end of the Cornell campus. There’s no station right now, and I have no idea if one is even technically or economically feasible. But it would serve to anchor the campus and would nearly eliminate the need to drive to Cornell-on-Roosevelt. Currently, while the F train itself at Roosevelt Island is very crowded, the station is only the 180th most popular. That figure is a bit deceptive though as the 37.6 percent increase in ridership from 2009 to 2010 was the second highest in the city. Over 2.5 million riders a year use the station, and that number will jump considerably with the campus.

It is, at least, an idea. With the Cornell campus, the city could be sending upwards of 10,000 people a day to Roosevelt Island, and the transportation infrastructure improvements must be a part of the conversation before the project moves too far along. Will transit play the proper role or will it, as Stephen Smith worries, turn into yet another academic Corbusian nightmare in New York City?



Categories : Manhattan

113 Responses to “A future for Roosevelt Island, but what of transportation?”

  1. Alex C says:

    So…not going with the full 1968 Super-Express F train plan is a kick in the proverbial behind now, isn’t it? As if any of the Queens Boulevard branches needed anymore capacity problems.

    A stop on the 53 St line is not feasible in any way, sadly. The crowding on the E would become (even more) dangerous at stations. Roosevelt Island will need a light rail line running along it to shuttle people to the F stop. On the subway side, you better hope those R179s are in by then and CBTC is up and running on IND Queens Boulevard to pump more F trains down that 63 St tube.

    • Bolwerk says:

      I partly agree, but good luck with light rail. Half the people who read this blog still seem convinced that the holy grail of inexpensive transit is bus service. And they’re more informed than the general public and even many planners regarding transit issues. The bus fairy is a myth that just won’t die.

      • Boris says:

        There is already a bus circulator system, and expanding it to the southern half of the island makes sense. If there was nothing, an airport-style monorail would’ve been a nice addition.

        Since the EDC is involved in the project, we can be assured that it will be parking-heavy. I hope the current residents make a fuss.

        • John-2 says:

          Lots of college campuses will subsidize the local municipal bus system to run free shuttle buses for their students, and that’s probably what’s going to happen here. Cornell has a nice chunk of change in their endowment, and they can pay the MTA to run a loop just to serve the south end of Roosevelt Island and connect with the 63rd Street subway, the tram link and the Q102. Way cheaper than trying to reconfigure the 53rd Street tube for a new stop, and from a politician’s perspective, way less downside than angering Queens subway passengers by periodically having to disrupt service to build the new station.

          • Bolwerk says:

            Somehow I suspect researchers making six figures aren’t going to be very keen on taking a bus period. No one is thinking of that either. :|

            • The Cobalt Devil says:

              Too true! They’ll either take a livery cab (which they can hail right on the street) or hire Black Car services like most NY corp execs do. And seriously, Roosevelt Island ain’t exactly Long Island. It’s not that far a walk to the subway stop or tram. Nothing that a Cornell-owned shuttle bus couldn’t cover in 5 mins.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Yeah, I think additional transit options are largely about a capacity problem that may or may not exist.

                • The Cobalt Devil says:

                  I’m thinking that 10,000 number is a bit overinflated (they always are). More like a few thousand at any one time, and many probably off-hours. Nothing that the F train and tram (with supplemental on-Island shuttle bus service) couldn’t handle.

            • Nathanael says:

              Unfortunately, Cornell University doesn’t understand the concept of rail service, and doesn’t really understand the concept of bus service either.

              Ezra Cornell did — he arranged for the first rail service to Ithaca.

              But modern-day Cornell thinks buses are fine. And then underfunds them. And builds parking lots. It required a giant student protest to get free bus passes for students or staff.

              Expect a parking-based nightmare, unless you protest *NOW*. The researchers won’t like it, but the designers won’t believe that until they start complaining.

          • Boris says:

            I’ve been wondering for a while why new large projects don’t, in fact, pay the MTA for extra service but hire private shuttle buses instead. I suspect the MTA is too expensive for even the largest private employers, plus there’s is no system to rent extra service on a contract basis like you described. However, if Cornell can pull it off, it will set a precedent and provide yet another argument for reducing parking in large developments (e.g. give builders an option of either building parking or paying for more MTA service).

              • Boris says:

                This is very interesting. So Cornell can’t directly subsidize a route, but only give out MetroCards in hope that the MTA will decide to add service.

                NYC can still add an opt-out option where developers offer residents car share and MetroCard benefits, instead of building parking, without violating the rule. But they depend on the MTA to be interested and able (since the new rides might still be money losers) to add service.

      • I’m with Bolwerk on this one. Streetcars, anybody?

        • Al D says:

          The “Holy Grail” works for me. Better yet, honestly, is an elevated people/pod mover emanating from the tram and the F and looping around the campus, forming a full circular loop. But since this will NEVER happen, the bus is the next best thing. The bus would work fine as long as (i) there are no long boarding queues (i.e. countless card dips), (ii) it gets traffic priority (under the island will be inundated by cars scenario) and/or a dedicated separate travel lane/route, and (iii) sufficient service is provided.

          So that’s intra-island. But getting TO the island? It’s just going to be darned crowded during peak hours on the tram and F, but depending on the traffic flow, perhaps this is more of a reverse commute from Midtown, so impact would be marginal.

          • Bolwerk says:

            Why would anyone support a proprietary/one-off people mover or monorail when a reasonably standardized LRT could be constructed and tie into a wider system (if desired)? Things like this are almost as ridiculous as the bus fairy.

            Anyway, it seems the surface transportation issue is rather un-winnable. Even LRT doesn’t solve the major hurdle with surface transportation: there is no direct link to Manhattan, and no particularly good way to make one.

            Building another tram might be an option, perhaps one that reaches deeper into Manhattan.

            • ajedrez says:

              Is there any way to extend the existing tram further into the island?

              • Bolwerk says:

                Further in Manhattan? I doubt it, at least not without serious expense and inconvenience. OTOH, building a new one from scratch probably isn’t much more expensive than changing the old one.

                If you mean Roosevelt Island, isn’t it a bit too narrow for that to matter?

    • Alon Levy says:

      The 63rd Street tunnel is running under capacity, since 63rd and Lexington is a residential neighborhood whereas 53rd is the heart of Midtown. Adding more ridership to underused infrastructure is always good.

      • AlexB says:

        If they ever finish phase 3 of the second ave subway, the 63rd st tunnel would probably be used to connect a local service in Queens (revived V train probably) to 2nd Ave. In that scenario, the 63rd St tunnel would be just as crowded at the 53rd St one, if not more so, as people switched over to the 2nd Ave option. It would also be a great way to connect the hospitals on the East Side with the campus.

        • Rick Altabef says:

          Why isn’t there already a station at 63rd St and York Av to accommodate the hospitals and Rockefeller University? That one station would move tens of thousands of people from surface transit into the subway.

          • ajedrez says:

            Engineering difficulties probably, because York Avenue is right on the water (then again, so is the Roosevelt Island stop)

            • Rick Altabef says:

              Two new deep, near-the-water stations, similar to the Roosevelt Island station, would be a transportation revolution for the East Side of Manhattan. A new station on 14th Street stretching between Avenues B and C would solve the subway access problem for a large part of the East Village. And a station on 63rd St running between 1st and York Avenues would turn the hospital district of Yorkville into a “one-fare zone.”. Just the reduction in pollution from bus traffic on 14th Street would make this investment worthwhile. Everything is already there except for a couple of — ok, expensive — deep stations with elevator banks ala Clark Street.

        • Alon Levy says:

          What do you mean, a revived V? There’s no plan to use the SAS-63rd connection in regular service. There’s no room on the QB tracks for additional service, unless the R is rerouted to Astoria; while that would take care of raw capacity issues, it would eliminate one of the few connections from the IND to the pre-IND network.

          Alternatively, if they decide to build new trackage in Queens – my personal preference is a line under Northern – then this could work. But even then, 53rd Street would serve more central locations than 63rd, even 63rd-Second. Besides which, the most crowded point on 63rd-Second would be 55th Street or perhaps 42nd Street, so jobs at Roosevelt Island, i.e. commuters who get off short of the peak crowding point, do not cause capacity problems.

  2. Clarke says:

    Perhaps adding a mid-bridge station on the Queensboro? Is it not true that trolley service over the bridge featured a Roosevelt Island stop?

    • capt subway says:

      Yes. Until 1957 the streetcars – the very last anywhere in the 5 boroughs – ran on the outer lower level roadways – an exclusive streetcar ROW. There was a station with elevators to/from what was then known as Welfare Island. I’ve always advocated light rail for the Queensboro Bridge / Queens Blvd corridor, the route of the present Q60 bus and once the route of the Queens Blvd streetcar line (which followed the exact same route as the Q60), a streetcar line unique for NYC as it was almost entirely on private ROW: on the bridge, under the Flushing Line viaduct and in the side median strips on Queens Blvd.

      • Bolwerk says:

        There cannot be a benign explanation for getting rid of that streetcar and replacing it with a nightmare like the Q60 either. Maybe people didn’t understand this back then, but the only explanations for today’s ongoing refusal to embrace surface rail in NYC are stupidity or deliberate malice.

        In the case of the EDC, it almost has to be malice; these are economists and engineers who must know that surface rail is about the cheapest possible option in an environment like NYC. No joke: you kind of have to suspect they’re trying to punish the plebes for depending on public transit. They want to inflict low-capacity, slow buses on people and they’re willing to spend lots of money to do it. It would be one thing if buses actually saved money over surface rail, but they most often don’t.

        • Alex C says:

          EDC doesn’t care. They drive to work, so they do what’s convenient for them.

          • Bolwerk says:

            Oh, they care. It’s almost certainly a mission for them to make New York welcoming for contemptuous motorists. It doesn’t work, however, because whatever you can get by driving to a mall in New York you can get by driving to a mall anywhere else.

            But it doesn’t have to work for them to think it’s a good thing.

        • Andrew says:

          Most Q60 riders take the bus for short trips. It’s mostly duplicated by the subway, which longer-distance riders use. If your goal is to speed up the Q60, be careful that you don’t do it in a way that makes it no more useful to its existing riders than the subway is already.

          And I know I ask most of these questions every time you bring up this topic, but I haven’t seen an answer yet: Where do you put the storage and maintenance facilities? Whose budget pays to maintain the trackage and to keep it clear of snow and debris? What happens when street fairs, parades, and street blockages obstruct the tracks? Do bus routes that overlap with the Q60 benefit in any way from the Q60′s infrastructure? Will riders on those sections be able to easily take whichever vehicle comes first? (The Q32 and Q60 overlap all the way from Roosevelt into Manhattan, so a lot of people want whichever comes first.)

          • Bolwerk says:

            It’s mostly duplicated by the subway, which longer-distance riders use.

            I don’t really see why that would change much. The surface route would still be almost exclusively suitable for local trips, and would never be able to replace the subway for trips to Manhattan.

            If your goal is to speed up the Q60, be careful that you don’t do it in a way that makes it no more useful to its existing riders than the subway is already.

            Come on, if that were a risk, this would have no way to be anything but a smashing success by any stretch of the imagination. Even I’m not that sure.

            I’m not sure what Capt. Subway had in mind, but I took it to be something paralleling to the Q60, which would probably take people just into Manhattan as I think the former streetcar did.* An LRT with stops approximately paralleling the buses would achieve much faster dwell/load times and significantly better acceleration, and wouldn’t get stuck in traffic as easily, but I don’t see it outrunning the IND Queens Boulevard or IRT Flushing services.

            And I don’t see it siphoning off trips to Manhattan, though it could siphon off intra-borough trips, at least for people who don’t want to climb the stairs to the el. But they’d have to do that anyway at Queensboro Plaza if they choose to go into Manhattan, so they may as well get it over with in Sunnyside and have a one-seat ride or at least cross-platform transfer to the BMT.

            * Though if this never goes into Manhattan, I’m not sure that’s a particularly big problem anyway. And if that’s the case, it could probably increase subway usage.

            Where do you put the storage and maintenance facilities?

            I think last time you asked this, it was in relation to another ROW, and my answer was who cares? If an existing bus maintenance facility can’t handle it, just go wherever is cheapest? NYC is no stranger to eminent domain, so this problem seems outright trivial next to the costs of acquiring (new) equipment, acquiring staff that is able to maintain the equipment, and laying tracks/catenary.

            I think those costs pay off in the end because of lower maintenance costs and equipment turnover and higher ridership, but I realize they’re not trivial costs. If it’s done properly, at least storage space needs should be reduced because of better throughput.

            Whose budget pays to maintain the trackage and to keep it clear of snow and debris?

            I would guess either the TA or the city or a combination thereof. Again, how is this problem anymore than trite? The MTA must have a relatively high degree of competency clearing tracks of debris. I realize the city sucks at keeping streets clean, but it shouldn’t be that hard.

            What happens when street fairs, parades, and street blockages obstruct the tracks?

            Do these things happen on Queens Boulevard, and would they happen under the Queens Boulevard viaduct? Most street blockages would be emergencies, and they must be a bigger problem for buses and POVs than they would be for vehicles running at least largely on their own ROW.

            Do bus routes that overlap with the Q60 benefit in any way from the Q60?s infrastructure? Will riders on those sections be able to easily take whichever vehicle comes first?

            Now these actually seem like real issues. I don’t see a particular logistical problem with buses and trains sharing a ROW on some parts of Queens Boulevard. I’m not sure buses would fit under the viaduct, comfortably anyway – which might be why that ROW is used for parking these days.

            I suppose having to cross the street, particularly nasty Queens Boulevard, to get from a local bus to a median-running rail service could be a PITA, but it could at least be a PITA limited to the area along the viaduct.

            (The Q32 and Q60 overlap all the way from Roosevelt into Manhattan, so a lot of people want whichever comes first.)

            Yes, so it could be logical for the Q32 to remain a local/limited bus and for the Q60 to become an LRT. I guess. I think there’s a place for LRT in NYC; I don’t think it means getting rid of all buses.

            • Andrew says:

              I don’t really see why that would change much. The surface route would still be almost exclusively suitable for local trips, and would never be able to replace the subway for trips to Manhattan.

              My point is that a lot of Q60 riders are traveling short distances from local stop to local stop. If you eliminate stops and use a dedicated busway/trackway in the middle of the street, you’re increasing access time, probably more than offsetting the travel time savings.

              On the same note, why would you put LRT specifically on a route that parallels the subway, where anybody who wants to avoid the bus and ride a train already has that option? Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend your capital dollars to replace a bus line that doesn’t already have a rail alternative? And the Q60 isn’t a particularly frequent or busy line, so I’m stumped by your choice of the Q60.

              I’m not sure what Capt. Subway had in mind, but I took it to be something paralleling to the Q60, which would probably take people just into Manhattan as I think the former streetcar did.* An LRT with stops approximately paralleling the buses would achieve much faster dwell/load times and significantly better acceleration, and wouldn’t get stuck in traffic as easily, but I don’t see it outrunning the IND Queens Boulevard or IRT Flushing services.

              He can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he’s taking a nostalgic approach – that the old streetcar was better than the current bus, and therefore things should be restored to the way they used to be. The problem with that reasoning is that the removal of the streetcar is a sunk cost. Whether or not the streetcar should have been replaced by a bus, it was. If we’re considering spending capital dollars reinstating it, it needs to be evaluated anew, in competition with other uses for those same capital dollars (whether LRT elsewhere or something else entirely).

              I think last time you asked this, it was in relation to another ROW, and my answer was who cares? If an existing bus maintenance facility can’t handle it, just go wherever is cheapest? NYC is no stranger to eminent domain, so this problem seems outright trivial next to the costs of acquiring (new) equipment, acquiring staff that is able to maintain the equipment, and laying tracks/catenary.

              If the maintenance facility isn’t located directly along the route, then tracks need to be installed (and maintained) connecting it to the route.

              If you’re envisioning a larger network of LRT routes, chances are you’ll end up with either a lot of off-route trackage or a lot of small, inefficient shops, one for each line.

              (This isn’t a problem for buses, of course, since they can run on any streets they like.)

              I think those costs pay off in the end because of lower maintenance costs and equipment turnover and higher ridership, but I realize they’re not trivial costs. If it’s done properly, at least storage space needs should be reduced because of better throughput.

              I think your assumptions regarding maintenance costs are optimistic. The MTA has a lot of buses, and there are economies of scale in maintaining a large fleet.

              And why do you assume higher ridership?

              I would guess either the TA or the city or a combination thereof. Again, how is this problem anymore than trite? The MTA must have a relatively high degree of competency clearing tracks of debris. I realize the city sucks at keeping streets clean, but it shouldn’t be that hard.

              It’s not a fatal flaw, but it’s something that needs to be worked out. All of the tracks that NYCT is currently responsible for are in exclusive rights of way, and the streets that DOT clears are currently used by rubber tired vehicles.

              Do these things happen on Queens Boulevard, and would they happen under the Queens Boulevard viaduct? Most street blockages would be emergencies, and they must be a bigger problem for buses and POVs than they would be for vehicles running at least largely on their own ROW.

              They can happen anywhere. A bus can detour around an obstruction. A train can’t.

              Now these actually seem like real issues. I don’t see a particular logistical problem with buses and trains sharing a ROW on some parts of Queens Boulevard. I’m not sure buses would fit under the viaduct, comfortably anyway – which might be why that ROW is used for parking these days.

              It’s probably used for parking because, according to the 50′s planning philosophy that prevailed until very recently (and is still the way many think), lots and lots of parking is the best possible use of land.

              I suppose having to cross the street, particularly nasty Queens Boulevard, to get from a local bus to a median-running rail service could be a PITA, but it could at least be a PITA limited to the area along the viaduct.

              It’s not a matter of its being a PITA – it’s a matter of it effectively doubling the headway for anyone who can use either route.

              And the viaduct section is pretty much exactly where the Q32 and the Q60 overlap!

              Yes, so it could be logical for the Q32 to remain a local/limited bus and for the Q60 to become an LRT. I guess.

              There is no Q32 Limited. What gives you the idea that there should be anything fancier than a local bus here? I don’t think the riders would benefit from a limited.

              I think there’s a place for LRT in NYC; I don’t think it means getting rid of all buses.

              There may or may not be a place for LRT in NYC, but I don’t think this is it.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Are you familiar the daily traffic situation on Queens Boulevard? The traffic is nightmarish much of the day along that route, and the buses suffer from it. There is actually a relatively unhindered ROW for LRT or streetcars, at least between LIC and Roosevelt Avenue.

                On the same note, why would you put LRT specifically on a route that parallels the subway, where anybody who wants to avoid the bus and ride a train already has that option?

                Maybe I’m off base here, but I’m not taking the Q32 or Q60 to be meaningful substitutes for the subway. Insofar as they might be substitutes, the only people I could see riding them to avoid the subway either are (1) disabled enough that they can’t/don’t wish to make it up to the 7 or down to the IND or (2) people who just don’t care about their time or are afraid of subways. No idea how big either of those subsets are – maybe they’re huge – but the rest of Queens Boulevard surface riders logically must be trying to make trips the subway doesn’t make well for them, either because there isn’t a one-seat option or because the trip is short enough the bus is preferable.

                For group (1), level boarding and faster service seems like a huge bonus. For group (2), well, they’d probably at least be mode-agnostic unless they share 1950s planners’ atavistic hatred of rail.

                Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend your capital dollars to replace a bus line that doesn’t already have a rail alternative?

                Sure, it could. I don’t really object to giving preference to other projects. I do, however, think it’s hard to argue that serious improvements should not be made along that corridor. It’s a neat thought experiment, but obviously none of these things are happening until a frost from hell cleanses Albany.

                And the Q60 isn’t a particularly frequent or busy line, so I’m stumped by your choice of the Q60.

                The topic was a Queens Boulevard streetcar or LRT service. I would take that to mean replacing the Q60. As you pointed out, it largely parallels the Q32. The Q32 does go to Penn Station, however, and the Q60 does not, so it probably makes sense to keep a Q32 bus service around for that reason.

                As to service frequency, it seems higher on the Q60. Compare Q60 schedule to Q32 schedule.

                Ridership is similar on both lines, but appears a significantly higher on the Q60. I’ll paste the link to those numbers that in a followup so I don’t get caught in approval hell. But all told, between the two of them, ridership seems to be about 9 million, with some overlap for both services between Manhattan and Roosevelt.

                If the maintenance facility isn’t located directly along the route, then tracks need to be installed (and maintained) connecting it to the route.

                Yes, I’m aware of that it is preferable to be near the tracks.

                If you’re envisioning a larger network of LRT routes, chances are you’ll end up with either a lot of off-route trackage or a lot of small, inefficient shops, one for each line.

                There is probably some risk to that, sure. However, presumably at least some bus maintenance facilities are suitable, and hopefully some parts and labor could be shared with the buses.

                Near as I can tell, a lot of the routes where LRT might shine in NYC could logically interact with each other.

                (This isn’t a problem for buses, of course, since they can run on any streets they like.)

                I see your point, but it’s not exactly a non-existent problem for buses. Deadheading over long distances is wasteful, and IIRC buses do exponentially more damage to streets than POVs do. That the costs get hidden in the city’s maintenance budget, rather than directly paid for by the MTA, doesn’t make it any cheaper.

                I think your assumptions regarding maintenance costs are optimistic. The MTA has a lot of buses, and there are economies of scale in maintaining a large fleet.

                That could be at first. If an NYC LRT network really mushroomed, they’d get the same economy of scale over time.

                Still, rail ROWs seem cost-competitive to maintain, operating labor costs get knocked down significantly, energy costs should drop, equipment turnover is lower, etc.. If there is some reason to think buses have lower maintenance costs, especially on a per-rider scale, I’m just not seeing it. Per-rider operating costs on LRTs seem almost universally lower than buses.

                And why do you assume higher ridership?

                Kind of hard for me to imagine there wouldn’t be some uptick in ridership if service improved – the induced demand thing, and also that people who avoid the Q32/Q60 would probably be willing to take a faster service between, say, Kew Gardens and Sunnyside. Such an LRT service could be speed-competitive with the subway for some intra-borough trips, so it would most likely attract riders who currently have to transfer between the IND and 7.

                So I really have trouble seeing a scenario where there isn’t an uptick in riders for the route. But even if there aren’t any new riders, it should be possible to move existing riders faster using less labor and equipment.

                It’s not a fatal flaw, but it’s something that needs to be worked out. All of the tracks that NYCT is currently responsible for are in exclusive rights of way, and the streets that DOT clears are currently used by rubber tired vehicles.

                Is it that hard to work out? What do Cologne, Strasbourg, Jersey City, or Dallas do? There are plenty of models to work from.

                They can happen anywhere. A bus can detour around an obstruction. A train can’t.

                For all practical purposes, buses can be as stuck and unable to detour as a train can.* But sure, there are advantages to rubber-tired vehicles. But I just don’t see anyone (sane) suggesting the subways be replaced with buses for that reason, and the success of LRT the world over makes it pretty hard to make the case that these problems can’t be managed or avoided.

                * Besides, detours raise their own problems. Waiting passengers might be missed, for instance.

                It’s not a matter of its being a PITA – it’s a matter of it effectively doubling the headway for anyone who can use either route.

                I have trouble buying that problem. First of all, service frequency probably should increase with LRT. Much fewer obstructions, less trouble with traffic, etc.

                So wouldn’t this just be a matter of taking the LRT unless the bus explicitly happens to be the only vehicle that goes to your origin or destination (e.g., the west side of Manhattan or somewhere on Roosevelt). The bus would no more be a substitute for the LRT than the LRT would be for the R Train.

                And, I’m not sure I buy the idea that nobody should ever be inconvenienced. Just assuming nothing can be done about the fraction of riders who currently are service-indifferent, doesn’t this help way more people than it hurts?

                And the viaduct section is pretty much exactly where the Q32 and the Q60 overlap!

                True enough.

                It’s probably used for parking because, according to the 50?s planning philosophy that prevailed until very recently (and is still the way many think), lots and lots of parking is the best possible use of land.

                You are most likely right. I have wondered whether a bus service could operate under that viaduct. Frankly, despite my preference for LRT, I think a BRT could be mostly as good in this case – if it would work.

                There is no Q32 Limited.

                I know.

                What gives you the idea that there should be anything fancier than a local bus here? I don’t think the riders would benefit from a limited.

                I really don’t know if they would or not. But if an LRT is capturing the local traffic, maybe it could be beneficial for Roosevelt Avenue riders to skip most of those stops and just go straight to LIC and then Manhattan.

                Or maybe not. Or maybe it even causes harm because what are now one-seat rides will need transfers. I really don’t know; I wasn’t proposing anything, I was just discussing it.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Here are the numbers for the annual ridership of those buses: Q60 and Q32 can be found at those respective URLs.

              • Bolwerk says:

                And to your comment

                There may or may not be a place for LRT in NYC, but I don’t think this is it.

                Maybe this adds some perspective: the combined ridership of those two lines is almost as many trips as Salt Lake City’s entire 3-service light rail (map) network (13M riders); see this PDF for the ridership number – which, BTW, also tells you per-passenger operating costs are nearly 50% lower on the LRT services.

                (Apologies for all the followups. I think this chokes if I post more than two URLs per post, and then Ben has to come along and approve it.)

              • Nathanael says:

                “A bus can detour around an obstruction. ”

                In actual reality, however, they don’t. Here in Ithaca, a bus caused a six-block traffic jam because it refused to turn left and go around the block when the road to the right was blocked by an accident. I don’t know how they act in NYC, but I’ve seen this behavior in other cities too.

                Trains are apparently more able to detour around obstructions than buses driven by *actual city bus drivers*. Which is absurd, but there you are.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  I dunno, he has a point. Buses do offer some flexibility. There is just a limit to how practical that is; good transit depends on following strict schedules, something that buses aren’t that great at in un-mixed traffic and are downright horrible at in mixed traffic. An unplanned* detour throws a bus off schedule at best. The best strategy is problem-avoidance, and rail in a mostly private ROW, as could be done rather cheaply on Queens Blvd, just does that better than buses.

                  * And if there is a plan for a detour, rail can often be bustituted when necessary. It’s usually crowded when that happens, but that’s a side-effect of success, not a failing of rail.

      • AlexB says:

        You can’t just re-build the outer lanes for streetcars. The northern side was converted to a bike/pedestrian path that is used by a few thousands people every day (and growing). The other is a special car lane that provides the only direct access from 1st Ave in Manhattan. Even if you convert both back to rails, you’d have to build something new for the bikers and pedestrians. That would be a few hundred million at least.

        I bike that way all the time and it’s easy to see where the elevators were, but there are no platforms. New platforms hanging off the side of an ancient bridge would have to be built – not cheap or easy.

        Roosevelt Island already has a gondola and a subway that are very close to where the old trolley stop used to be and those provide faster service to more locations in Manhattan than any trolley ever did. The only use a trolley would have would be for connecting to the other subways at Queens Plaza – very useful, but not a huge priority. That could be accomplished much more cheaply by extending the gondola service to Queens Plaza (not easy to do, but much easier and cooler than a new LRT or streetcar system).

        • Bolwerk says:

          A few hundred million to put up barriers to prevent cars from using a lane? Come on.

          • AlexB says:

            No. Read what I wrote. After you convert the south outer lower roadway from car to trolley use and the north outer lower roadway from bike/ped to trolley use, there would be two car lanes in each direction on the upper and lower decks. There is no way they are going to remove another car lane from the busiest East River crossing for bikes and pedestrians, so a new structure would have to be built.

            This new structure would either be attached to the existing bridge or it would have to be new bridge(s). If it’s attached to the existing, it would be a daunting challenge to plan or build it given the age of the bridge, it’s constant use, and how much space is available at either end. Preservationists might also object to adding a brand new structure to such an icon. Building new bike/ped bridge(s) would obviously be incredibly expensive. And why are we doing all this again? Oh right, to have redundant trolleys because everyone thinks they are cute.

            • Bolwerk says:

              Given the traffic that bridge attracts, in both Manhattan and LIC, it could make perfect sense to take away a lane or two of traffic. Skip converting the bike lanes and just use two lanes for LRT.

              Nobody is pushing for trolleys because they’re “cute.” They’d be a big improvement over the buses because, as Capt Subway rightly noted, they could be given their own ROW. However, it’s LRT that would make the most sense, not trolleys. Instead of increasing loads by a factor of 1.5 or so, they could be increased by a factor of 5 or 6.

              • Eric says:

                Buses can also be given their own ROW – at a much lower cost than building train tracks and catenary.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  Even if that were true (it’s a misleading claim at best), you think buses could travel at speed under the Queens Boulevard viaduct? A suitable, relatively unhindered streetcar or LRT ROW exists today. The price is tracks, catenary, and some lost parking.

                • Alex C says:

                  Buses are simply not as good as a dedicated light rail ROW. Light rail=higher capacity, better acceleration, longer-lasting equipment. BRT has been a cheap-out option by US transit agencies trying to find a cheaper, less-effective alternative to light rail.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    The galling part is it’s not even cheaper. In most circumstances, the most you can say is LRT is more expensive up-front. It’s penny wise and pound foolish to go with buses.

  3. capt subway says:

    The proper grading for a stop in the 53rd St tubes is simply not there. You need essentially a level grade for about 600 ft, or as close as possible to 600 ft. Besides there is ample capacity at the Roosevelt Island stop. Ample train capacity would be achieved by putting the “F” back in 53rd St, where it belongs, and routing the much more lightly loaded “M” into 63rd St. In so doing you’d eliminate all the ridiculously slow and delay generating switching moves at Queens Plaza & 36 St. Nights & weekends when the “M” quits the “F” could be be rerouted to 63rd St.

    For reliability a railroad should be straight railed to the maximum extent possible. Eliminate all unnecessary switching moves.

    • Eric says:

      What is the grading like directly under Roosevelt Island, and why aren’t the brakes on a train sufficient to allow stopping at non-level stations?

      • capt subway says:

        It’s not a problem of train braking. Stations were built on a level grade to permit the train to sit in the station with the brakes released without rolling. On the older AMUE equipment (long gone) SOP was to release the train’s brakes immediately upon making a station stop and to sit in the station in release.

        The real problem would be the grade of the platform itself – a kind of “V” shaped affair with a grade of 3+% down and then up again. It would no doubt pose problems for the passengers, especially from an ABA POV.

        The train capacity issue (as well as service reliability issues) would be solved by putting the “F” back into 53rd and routing the “M” to 63rd, as described above.

        BTW I could never get a straight answer as to why they never went to 9 cars on the “L” & “M” (a 5 car set + a 4 car set). The stations on the BMT Eastern division were never extended to 10 car (600 ft) length, as was done on the rest of the BMT. However they were originally built to accommodate 8 cars trains of BMT “AB” subway cars, which were 67′ long, or 536′ for an 8 car train. A 9 car train of 60′ R160Bs is 540 ft, which would fit, given that the first door pocket is about 5 ft behind the tip of the coupler. That extra car would be quite welcome on the “L” which, especially during the peak periods, is loaded well beyond design capacity.

        • Scott E says:

          I disagree with this. I was under the impression that modern stations are always sloped (albeit slightly) for drainage reasons. This way, a drain and/or pump can be inserted at the “low point”.

          And I would hope that trains have their brakes applied when loading or unloading (or, at a minimum, have the engine hold the wheels fixed). I wouldn’t feel comfortable boarding a train that was sitting there in “neutral”.

          • capt subway says:

            Well as I said SOP (and I was 37 years with NYCTA, during which time I was10 years a Motorman, 2 more years as an Instructor) is: with AMUE equipment, to stand in the station during a stop with brakes in release; with SMEE type equipment forward to hold a minimum brake, maybe around 5-10 PSI in the brake cylinders. Trial & error has taught most experienced Train Ops (formerly known as Motorman) that you can stand in most stations in release.

            BTW if you look at the profile of most stations you will see that almost all are perfectly level for most of their lengths.

          • Nathanael says:

            Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines specifies maximum slopes for new stations. I don’t remember them, but they’re *small*.

        • al says:

          Swapping the F back to 53rd st tunnel will result in extreme overcrowding between Queens Plaza and 5th Ave 53rd St. The M takes up passengers that can’t get on the E at 23rd Ely and Lex Ave/53rd st. The transfer from G has grown due to the growth in Northwest Brooklyn and overcrowding on L. Those heading for the 53rd st corridor get a 2 seat ride with G to E/M.

          Not having the M at Queens Plaza will also reduce service to local stations west of Roosevelt Ave to 53rd st corridor and Lex Ave beyond walking distance from Lex Ave/E63rd st. The R can pick up some of the slack, but may end up oversubscribed. increasing frequency on Queen Blvd over 60th st tunnel might be feasible if you run a few Q or N to 71st Continental instead of Astoria.

          It might be better to just run a few short run F local between Church Ave or 2nd Ave and 71st Continental during peak hrs. Another option is to run a few more M trains, but have them run through the 63rd st tunnel.

          The 9 car option on L and M would be a nice fit, except for several possible reasons.
          One is a longer train may necessitate signals system modification.

          Another is yard space. Many of the yard tracks can’t fit trains longer than 8 cars. The East New York yard require splitting many of the trains to 6, 4 and 2 car consists to fit even shorter yard track lengths. Having 5 car consists may reduce yard capacity, or necessitate usage of single car units to make the 9th car of the train. All this require time and expense (staffing), and is a possible point of failure that may reduce capacity during peak hrs.

          They might not want single car operable units anymore.

          Additionally, it may require yard expansion for all the cars to fit. This either requires yard footprint expansion (and property acquisition), or decking over existing yards with a second level and adding new track connection (possibly much more expensive). Property acquisition may require eminent domain (Canarsie and East New York) or demolition and/or modification of existing bus maintenance facilities (Fresh Pond Yards).

          • capt subway says:

            Yes I’m familiar with the situation in ENY Yd. I’d been with NYCTA for 37 years, including 10 as a Motorman. Although the “M” runs out of MA, where you’ve got some space to play with if you wanted to extend the tracks – in either or both directions – and rearrange some switches. Ditto RP yard on the “L”

            As to the train makeup: I’m not suggesting adding a single car. Go with two train sets: 5+4.

            When I was the superintendent of the #3 line we were running 9 cars. When it was suggested we run 10 cars all the brain surgeons said it couldn’t be done: some of 148 Yd tks were too short, etc, etc. Well, as you can see, 10 car trains are being run on the #3. Very minor alterations were required: lengthening a few tracks, redoing some yard switches and signal jacks, etc.

            As to the signal circuits, the BMT Eastern div stations, as I’d noted above, were built to accommodate 8 67 ft BMT AB cars, or 536 ft. A 9 car train of 60 ft cars in 540 ft. I dare say the existing signals could clear the added 4 ft. In some instances some minor alteration might be required.

          • ajedrez says:

            A train can srill go through 63rd Street and serve the local tracks west of Roosevelt Avenue. It would go 21st Street-36th Street.

          • Andrew says:

            There’s no room for any more locals on Queens Blvd. (And it certainly doesn’t make sense to divert trains out of the two more popular crossings to this one.)

            But there is no need. Even during rush hours, the F is not overcrowded. Most of the commuters to this campus will be traveling off-peak or in the reverse-peak direction anyway.

    • Kevin says:

      I think if the M were to run through the 63rd St. tunnel to the express tracks in Queens…. It would be even MORE crowded than the F is now, since M trains need to be shorter to serve middle village on the other end.

      • Joe Steindam says:

        The 63rd Street tunnel was built to allow trains from either the Queens Boulevard express or local tracks. This configuration has happened recently with weekend work on the R, the R has run in the 63rd Street tunnel and after Queensbridge resumes running on the Queens Blvd local tracks at 36th Street. Those proposing switching the tunnels used by the F and the M are likely thinking that the M will remain local and the 53rd Street tunnel will be the Queens Blvd express tracks link to Manhattan.

  4. Bolwerk says:

    This may be deliberate, but for transit access Roosevelt Island seems like a rotten choice no matter what you do. No matter what, the depth necessary for a station will be deep.

    OTOH, I think 10,000 more users a day split between the F, buses, the tram, and ferries probably wouldn’t be a huge deal. Keep in mind that many of these riders will by nature be traveling in non-peak directions.

  5. Ed says:

    Its too bad. I’m one of those people who thinks that Roosevelt Island is fine as it is, and the campus should have been put in or near a neighborhood that could have actually needed the economic development. And yes, the transit is problematic.

    However, one thing the 2nd Avenue subway will do if its finish is to bring the tram closer to a subway stop.

    • Jehiah says:

      closer? how do you figure? The tram is already 1 block away from the NQR entrance at 60th and 3rd ave. The closest 2nd ave subway stop will be a new entrance at 3rd ave and 63rd st (extending the 63rd and lex station) but that station is also 8 stories under ground. hardly closer.

  6. Jehiah says:

    It’s odd to me that these renderings don’t include the ruins of Smallpox Hospital since it has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. Is that to be demolished?

    • Joe Steindam says:

      All of the renderings appear to leave the park with Smallpox hospital the way it is. The current Goldwater Memorial Hospital is the one that will be demolished and re-purposed into this Cornell campus.

  7. Joe Steindam says:

    The bigger transit issue from my perspective is adding you’re adding as many as 10,000 new riders to one of the deepest stations in the system. It takes 3 escalators to reach the surface. While I’ve never used to the Roosevelt Island stop, I’ve used 63rd Street at rush hour and can say that the escalators are badly congested all the time, and worse when one is out of order. Cornell should be on the line to ensure that the escalators and elevators at the station are working at all times if they’re expect to cause such a high ridership.

  8. Geoff says:

    A few comments:

    1. It may be a half mile walk to the southern extent of Cornell’s campus to the subway but the majority of buildings will be much closer. The campus is also very close to the tram.

    2. At Roosevelt Island, the F train and tram is packed during rush hour but only in the direction of commuting. In the other direction it’s nearly empty. I believe the vast majority of trips to Cornell’s campus will be in a reverse commute direction or outside of rush hour. The island’s transportation infrastructure has the capacity to handle such patterns.

    3. Is there any word on expanding ferry service to the new campus? I imagine such service would be very convenient for those coming from LIC or Brooklyn.

  9. Larry Littlefield says:

    For crying out loud, walk or ride a bike to the train and get some exercies. A half mile is not unreasonable for people who then have such a short commute to Manhattan, and the views during the walk are great. A half mile bike ride is the equivalent of walking a couple of blocks in time and exertion.

    • Matthias says:

      New bikeshare stations on the island?

      • Larry Littlefield says:

        Why not? “Normal course of events” exercise needs to be looked at as a blessing, not a curse, for people who work by sitting on their rears (almost all of us) and don’t have time to set aside large blocks of time for exercise as such (like most of us).

        A half mile walk or bike ride at the end of a two hour commute is one thing. A half mile walk followed by a 15 minute ride is another. Heck, the smart thing to do would be to climb the stairs (if still open) to the bridge and just walk over to Manhattan.

      • oscar says:

        yes. now we’re talking

        • al says:

          They could add a nice high rise with elevators and stairs to the south of the Queensboro Bridge and swap the pedestrian/bikeway to the south side (structural requirements permitting). There are also proposals for access from north of the bridge by reusing part of the old power plant there.

  10. Scott E says:

    I’m not familiar with Roosevelt Island, but wouldn’t there be a vent shaft of some sort leading from the 53rd Street tunnel under the island reaching the surface? This is pretty common practice for under-river tunnels, even going back to when it was built. I’d bet there’s some sort of infrastructure there already.

  11. SEAN says:

    This reminds me of the tram that was added to serve Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland a few years ago.

    There is no way Roosevelt Island can handle a large influx of cars based on the current road configuration. I’ve been there several times & have first hand knowledge.

    If switching the F for the M & extending the loop busses is the most viable option, then so be it.

  12. TP says:

    Does anybody think that there’s an idea floating around somewhere out there, be it conscious or not, that “innovative” engineering/science/technology work should be done in “modern” auto-dependent suburban office parks, and that New York then needs to develop a Manhattan-adjacent (but not Manhattan-like) district for this, much as San Francisco has the Silicon Valley and Boston has the Route 128 Corridor? I think there’s an idea among those who wouldn’t even necessarily draw the land use/transportation connection, that “real work” doesn’t go on in these fields in your fancy pedestrianized plazas or packed-like-sardines-trains; that’s just where you take the wife out to a good dinner on the weekend.

    I guess it could already be argued that the rise of the pharmaceutical industry in suburban North Jersey is a reflection of this concept. The artists and entertainers and trust fund kids can live downtown; the engineers just want new construction and a short drive to work. For these people in the Bay Area already I think the model is now that the suburbs are where you make your money and the city is where you spend it.

    • Alon Levy says:

      To be honest, I doubt it. Those suburban campuses are always located well away from the city. They’re not trying to build this campus in Great Neck, or Tarrytown, or Paramus; they’re trying to build it in the borough of Manhattan. They’re probably thinking in the same mold as the urban renewal czars of the 1950s: suburbanization is bad, so let’s forestall it by building modernist projects in the center of the city and freeways to serve them.

      Also, the idea that the net jobs are in the suburbs is a total myth. Yes, reverse commuting is on the rise, and yes, Silicon Valley has grown faster than San Francisco as a job center, but San Francisco is still a net job magnet rather than a bedroom community, and going by income its status is stable. The rise of reverse commuting to Silicon Valley is matched by people commuting in from Marin County and the East Bay. On the whole there’s $16 billion more in income earned by people who work but do not live in San Francisco than by people who are the reverse, and this is the same figure as in 2000. (The figure for Silicon Valley is the same $16 billion, up from $9 billion in 2000.)

      • Ed says:

        “They’re probably thinking in the same mold as the urban renewal czars of the 1950s: suburbanization is bad, so let’s forestall it by building modernist projects in the center of the city and freeways to serve them.”

        Yes, the entire approach to urban planning by the Bloomberg administration in particular (I understand the state has more involvement with the Roosevelt island campus) has been a throwback to the 1950s. Its as if Jane Jacobs never happened. Its fascinating in a way.

      • AlexB says:

        I am fascinated by those numbers. Where did you learn about the $16 billion discrepancy?

      • Bolwerk says:

        Oh hell, TP is onto something. He may not have it precisely right, but there is this attitude – maybe not just regarding R&D, but in general – that we shouldn’t build more urban spaces people like in the vein of Greenwich Village or Williamsburg. Even when we can get something “transit-oriented” the aesthetic is always more mall-like than neighborhood-like.*

        Why that is, I don’t know. It defies economics, public health, engineering, environmental science, and even logic, but it’s the case. The only people who seem to get it are the odd Jane Jacobs apostles and the odd market urbanism apologists, and they both carry their own silly ideological baggage.

        * Maybe the reason really is puritanical. Urban spaces with bars, shops, people interacting, sitting on stoops, blah blah has to be offensive to the types of regimented worldviews that bring us Le Corbusier and American suburbs alike. Jane Jacobs even pointed that out, calling people standing against such things as “utopian minders of other people’s business.”

        • Boris says:

          The reason is that any large project is usually given to a single developer. There’s certainly an economic component to this – scale efficiencies, deep pockets, access to capital, personal connections to politicians. Suburbia is still allowed to grow organically, to some extent (e.g. stand-alone, cookie-cutter homes in Staten Island can, theoretically, form into new “neighborhoods,” but they are car-oriented by design and therefore won’t become a Greenwich Village).

          Big developers want a return on their investment as fast as possible, plus the areas being developed are usually supply-starved, so they become forests of skyscrapers. NYC planning policy insures there’s nothing in between suburbia and Times Square that can go up profitably, with the exception of infill.

          • Bolwerk says:

            That explains uniformity (uniformity isn’t always bad), but it doesn’t explain the nearly universal disregard you see for what could broadly be called classical urban form. The housing stock in Ridgewood is an example of that being built in a centrally planned fashion.

    • Chris says:

      I am an engineer, and drive to Connecticut from Queens for my job at a manufacturing facility. I have it relatively easy: under an hour’s drive for my reverse commute. And that said, I would kill to have my job located in a fancy pedestrianized (+transit) part of the city that would let me get rid of my car altogether. Using transit to get to my job now takes about 2 hours with transfers.

      I don’t know if tech companies necessarily want to be out in the suburbs–to be sure, most of my coworkers are suburbanites and they like it here just fine. But manufacturing often requires very large spaces, which are cheaper to obtain in the ‘burbs.

      • Steve says:

        Amazon has poached hundreds if not thousands of software engineers from Microsoft, in part by being in Seattle rather than the ‘burbs.

        I’m not convinced engineers typically want a short commute to the suburbs. Highly trained 20-somethings who haven’t met spouses yet certainly do not.

  13. anon says:

    “No idea if its feasible to add a stop to the 53rd street (tube)” Wow. I can’t begin to count the ways that statement is wrong.

    • When I wrote this last night, I had no idea if such a stop was feasible. That statement, in and of itself, was not wrong at all. According to a few people who more knowledge of the engineering than I have, it sounds like it would not be practical, but my main point remains: Improving transportation infrastructure for Roosevelt Island has to be a part of the planning for this new campus.

  14. NAO says:

    What about constructing a new tram from the Cornell campus to the new development at the former Con Ed site just south of the UN? That has to be cheaper than a new subway stop. Add in the Vision42 proposal (hey, we’re dreaming here, right?) and you’ve got a pretty quick route into Midtown.

    • NAO says:

      Nevermind — way too far north to make a tram to 41st street feasible. For some reason I had it in my head that the campus would be much more parallel to the UN. Oh well.

  15. Tsuyoshi says:

    To me it looks entirely workable with just buses (or streetcars… whatever) and bikes to connect to the existing subway station.

    I expect what we’ll actually get is buses and bikes for students, but large, cheap parking lots for most of the faculty and staff, and gridlock on the Roosevelt Island Bridge – forever untolled, of course, because middle-class people don’t take transit and yet can’t afford to pay a toll.

    I might point out that from a capacity standpoint, a university campus does not generate as much peak usage as either residential or commercial usage would, rather the usage is distributed more evenly throughout the day. So given the fact that another bridge or tunnel connection to the island is unlikely to be built, this is an ideal use of the space.

  16. Rob says:

    Is there anything preventing development of an LIRR stop underneath the Roosevelt Island F station? The East-Side Access LIRR will be traveling directly underneath, and this would save capacity on the Lex & 63rd tunnel if staff/students from LI do not have to commute through GCT. This would also incentivize suburbanites to use rail over car if they have easy access via LIRR.

    • AlexB says:

      First, I would assume (possibly totally wrong) that the F train Roosevelt Island stop was built in a way that assumed no LIRR would also be built here. To add a LIRR stop, I’d guess the whole thing would have to be re-built.

      Second, the F is already very busy going from Queens to Manhattan. Because of how easy the transfer would be, I’d guess that a ton of LIRR riders would switch to the F at Roosevelt Island, making it extremely overcrowded.

      • capt subway says:

        Not that I believe a LIRR stop at RI is doable. But if it were it would be one more good reason to put the “F” back in 53rd, where it belongs, and put the “M”, which has capacity to spare, in 63rd, as I’d stated above. So too it would also be time to consider extending the “M” to 9 cars (and the “L” too while we’re at it). As I’d also noted above, the BMT Eastern division stations can probably hold 9 60 ft cars as they were built to hold 8 67 ft cars.

        • Steve says:

          I hate that the moved the F to 63-Lexington. It makes far more sense for the F to be moved back to 53-Lexington as you say.

          • Alex C says:

            No it doesn’t. Crowding, crowding, crowding.

            • Df says:

              You are wrong the crowding is still three anyway

              • Alex C says:

                The F running there just means another packed train is there. The M is at least less crowded, and thus offers more space. The E and F in 53 results in 30 sardine cans per hour in each direction.

                • Justin Samuels says:

                  I think people just get stuck in the past and attached to things in the past. The MTA in the past 10 years made the system simplier and more stable in terms of train routes. Take the Queens Boulevard line. The F uses the 63rd street tunnel full time, while the E uses the 53rd street tunnel full time. I remember the 90s when during the days the E and F would use the 53rd street tunnel, but at nights the F would use the 63rd street tunnel and stop at Queensbridge. The 53rd street tunnel doesn’t have enough demand to justify two trains using it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Having the M use it during the weekdays works well, as a supplement to the E.

                • Andrew says:

                  I doubt 30 trains per hour would be able to get through 53/Lexington – the station and the trains would be too crowded, and dwell times would be too long. The current service pattern works, despite the operational challenges at Queens Plaza. Simplifying the operation there would reduce express throughput (due to the 53rd Street bottleneck) and would increase crowding on expresses, with local passengers going to 53rd once again having to transfer to the express to get there.

      • ajedrez says:

        I doubt a lot of riders would switch to the (F). The LIRR would still have service to Penn Station for those going to West Midtown.

      • Alon Levy says:

        The transfer wouldn’t be easy. Why would it be easy? The LIRR/subway transfers are not fare-coordinated, and people would rather walk some distance from Grand Central than make a transfer near the CBD.

  17. Wouldn’t the huge increase in F-train traffic to/from the R.I. station in 2010 almost exclusively because the tram was being replaced for most of 2010? The only non-bus/car option for commuting was to take the F train that spring, summer, and part of the fall.

  18. AlexB says:

    Another gondola would be interesting, operating over 44th Dr and connecting the southern part of the island with the Court Sq subway

  19. Rick Altabef says:

    There is an inexpensive way to double the number of trains going through te 63rd Street tunnel right now while vastly improving service on the G train and thus relieving overcrowding on the L. All that would be required is the installation of a switch track north of the Queens Plaza station so that Manhattan-bound M trains could merge onto the E express track north of the Queens Plaza station instead of, as now, south of it. If this were done the following would all be possible without any new construction:
    - Manhattan – bound R trains would, along with the F train, enter Manhattan through the 63rd lStreet tunnel
    - northbound G trains would enter Queens Plaza from Couthouse Square on the Manhattan-bound local track. They would ten reverse direction and enter Manhattan through the 60th Street tunnel, terminating at Whitehall Street.

    • AlexB says:

      That might be technically feasible, but the MTA would never do it. There would be a lot of weirdness between Court Square and Queens Plaza with the G. There would probably have to be a switch from northbound to southbound and vice versa on the G tracks in this area because the G would have to always be changing directions. I think an cleaner solution might be to just connect the G tracks to the R tracks before they connect with the N/Q 60th St tunnel. It would keep the same routing you described. This would decrease crowding on the E between Court Sq and Lexington and make life a lot easier for a lot of people in northwest Brooklyn.

      • Rick Altabef says:

        Yes, that would be much better, but quite expensive. Until the money is found, the approach of sending the G into Manhattan through the 60th St tunnel by reversing its direction at Queens Plaza is a real cheap way to double the train traffic in the 63rd Street tunnel. And crossing the G at grade north or south or Court Square is no big deal since the G would have at least a six minute headway during rush hour.

        • Justin Samuels says:

          There is no reason to double traffic in the 63rd Street tunnels. Universities don’t operate on a strict 9 to 5 schedule. Faculty and students would be coming and going throughout the day.

          And reversing the G in Queens would cause delays and issues with the other lines. The purpose of the G is to run crosstown, its not made or meant to go into Manhattan.

        • Andrew says:

          It wouldn’t be “real cheap” by any stretch of the imagination. It would also seriously degrade Queens Blvd. local service, which would lose access to 60th. Service would have to be reduced on the N, Q, or R in order to make room for the G between 57th and 34th. (That could, in principle, be avoided by swapping the Q and R south of 57th.) And what happens when SAS opens and the W has to come back to replace the Q in Astoria?

          Nor would it accomplish much – most G riders would continue to transfer as they do today.

          • Rick Altabef says:

            lit would be cheap because it would require no new construction except the installation of a switch track on the southbound track north of Queens Plaza.

            And, yes, the BMT trains in Manhattan would enter the express track from 63rd Street and the local track on 60th St. Therefore, the Queens Blvd R and the Second Avenue Q would run on the express track; and the Astoria N and the reversed-at-Queens-Plaza G would run down the local track. Queens Blvd line passengers that wish to enter Manhattan on 60th St would change to the G, right across the platform, at Queens Plaza.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Can You Add a Subway Stop to Roosevelt Island Science Campus? (2nd Ave Sagas) [...]

  2. [...] · The asking price of the Carroll Gardens finger building is about $15.5 million [WSJ] · What about transportation for the Roosevelt Island Cornell campus? [SAS] · Bronx tenants sue “Grinch” landlord over gas [NYDN] · NYU students [...]

  3. [...] Transit advocates aren’t so excited about the EDC’s plans for a new science campus, which will be run by Cornell and will be located on the mostly car-free Roosevelt Island. “In a lengthy press release on the campus, the word ‘transportation’ appears just once, and it’s unclear at this stage how Cornell will improve accessibility to the southern part of the island.” [2nd Ave. Sagas] [...]

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