Home 7 Line Extension Thoughts on the death of another ambitious transit expansion

Thoughts on the death of another ambitious transit expansion

by Benjamin Kabak

The 7 line will terminate only at 34th Street and 11th Avenue and not in New Jersey. (Via The Wall Street Journal)

When it comes to transit planning in 2012, not too many people in America are dreaming big. We can’t seem to get a national high-speed rail plan off the ground, and while some cities — notably Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — are working hard to expand their subway systems, most urban areas are content with incremental improvements. In New York, it was a battle to get a four-station extension of the Second Ave. Subway built, and the East Side Access plan could be facing a two-year delay.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg, then, announced in November 2010 his plans to extend the 7 line to Secaucus, New Jersey, he was met with both skepticism and enthusiasm. The skepticism arose from the fact that Bloomberg seemingly failed to notify even the MTA of his announcement, and enthusiasm because a leading New York politician had finally embraced an ambitious transit opportunity. It was, of course not to be.

The warning signs were in place early. Although the mayor continued to voice support for the 7 line last October, a promised engineering study that was due late last year has yet to materialized. Meanwhile, the MTA, under two different chairmen, never embraced the plan, and yesterday, Joe Lhota offered up a dose of reality in essentially canceling the plan. According to today’s reports, the authority had made the determination at least a month ago that the 7 extension to New Jersey was too costly, and the Mayor seemed to agree. “I know there’s an effort afoot to try to get the subway system to go to New Jersey,” Lhota said. “I told the mayor this, I told the deputy mayor this: I can’t see this happening in our lifetime.”

The Mayor, speaking yesterday afternoon, seemed resigned to Lhota’s reality. “It’s very hard to see the funding coming right now,” he said. Even the Mayor’s initial cost estimates of $5 billion seemed optimistic, and the MTA has other fish to fry. So even though, as The Wall Street Journal reported today, the Parsons Brinckerhoff preliminary study is still a few months away from seeing the light of day, it may just be an exercise in futility at this point.

As I pondered this development last night, I kept wondering whether or not we should mourn the death of the 7 line to Secaucus. I’ve long believed that we simply do not dream big anymore. Perhaps it’s a sign of the economic times; perhaps it’s a tendency to kowtow to loud NIMBY voices; perhaps it’s fallout from the Robert Moses Era, a period in planning with which New York has never come to terms. Likely, it’s a combination of all three factors, and rare are the politicians who have been the will to push through an ambitious plan and the political capital to do so as well. For better or worse, Mayor Bloomberg was one of those politicians, but his lasting legacies will be a meager extension of the 7 to Hudson Yards and a controversial arena in Brooklyn. Transit hasn’t been a top priority.

When Bloomberg announced the 7 extension to Secaucus, he seemed to be capitalizing on headlines concerning Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to cancel the ARC Tunnel, and he had hoped to secure federal dollars that would have gone to New Jersey. In that sense, it was a rather blatant move. Yet, it represented a sign that transit could command headlines, and with the Secaucus-bound subway dead for generations, plenty of other projects could grab the spotlight.

So let’s find a champion for a Second Ave. Subway that heads north. Let’s find someone willing to explore the Triboro RX plan. Let’s examine a connection to State Island for a rapid transit system. Let’s look into those Utica and Nostrand Avenue extension plans. Just because this grand idea died doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep dreaming.

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Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 9:36 am

Much of the blame goes to the national dialogue. National so-called “conservatives” and their silly, self-validating Atlas Shrugged complex deserve some blame too. Even though the localities that need rail generally pay for it themselves, and even though rail is generally cheaper and more economically stimulating than roadways, every time a project like this comes up somebody pretends to be put upon, usually people who themselves are pilfering city money to go to their pet projects. Highways still get built, in fact, even if most of the new ones aren’t especially needed these days.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 1:58 pm

So “the national dialogue” killed the 7 extension? With an assist with national conservatives. You may want to try and explain that a bit.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 2:28 pm

How does “much of the blame” turn into categorically “killed the 7 extension”? Seriously, read for comprehension.

Other than that, I generally agree with the points in paragraph 5 of Ben’s post too.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:39 pm

How does ANY of the blame for the 7 extension not happening fall upon a “national dialogue”?

How can you look at federal budgets approaching 4 trillion and think to yourself that Ayn Randian principles have any operative sway in this country? People discussing theoretical austerity is not the same as an imposition of austerity. If peoples’ talk about dieting was enough to make them lose weight we’d all look like movie stars.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 4:12 pm

You don’t think the preconceptions people carry into these discussions weigh on decisionmaking? Even dumb little assumptions like the money-saving nature of buses and the profitability of the road system move mountains, and you seem to fall for at least the latter myth. And, hell, you can probably totally agree with me when I mention the complete absurdity of the NYS legislature blaming the MTA but doing nothing about the rules that keep the MTA’s hierarchy – work rules ‘n all – in place.

The “operative sway” of Randianism is even more amusing. The biggest leeches of all imagine themselves to be the Atlases, leading to delightful self-parody like this.

Tim April 4, 2012 - 5:28 pm

The level of disconnect between uninformed protestors and the truth is wider than the Hudson River. At least it’s fun to laugh at.

Kid Twist April 4, 2012 - 11:55 pm

You post a photo of an idiot with a picket sign and, what, that’s supposed to represent all conservatives? How about if I put up some pictures of the antisemites and rapists of Zuccoti Park as representations of your views?

Bolwerk April 5, 2012 - 12:38 am

Where did I say that represents all conservatives, or any conservatives at all? Come on, where? Seriously, read for comprehension.

Kid Twist April 4, 2012 - 2:40 pm

Perhaps there would be funding for the things that the government is supposed to do, like building and maintaining infrastructure, if national so-called liberals didn’t insist on indiscriminately spending money on everything else.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:48 pm

There is definitely a crowding out going on. It’s not like absolute budget numbers at the state level have declined. If you look at the NY and NJ budgets now vs. 10 years ago, the increase is jaw-dropping.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 4:27 pm

National conservatives (so-called liberals) try spend money quite discriminately, really. They want to maintain subsidies for cars, medicare, medicaid, keep SSI alive (at least for the boomers), etc., all without disrupting the status quo too much. They do this to the point of cheerfully giving away their constituents’ money to the Republikans. Unfortunately, they’re so afraid of disrupting the status quo that it paralyzes them into political dysfunction. NIMBYism is a local symptom of this; acquiescing to the GOP’s desire for continued deficits was a national symptom.

Mike April 4, 2012 - 10:29 am

Unfortunate timing… “death” of the 7 extension?

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:57 pm

I know, that was a horrible accident. A guy fell off the Throgs Neck last week as well. Just awful.

John-2 April 4, 2012 - 10:29 am

When the Parsons Brinckerhoff study comes out the plan will probably have one final moment of possible life. But in the end, its survival in any scenario would come down to which state funds what, once you got past whatever federal funding the project would/could receive.

At best, it should be an 80-20 split with New Jersey picking up the bulk of the costs to get the tunnel to 11th Avenue and 25th Street (or 75-25, if you throw in some possible Port Authority contribution for new rolling stock or Secaucus maintenance facilities). But how the cost share would be split up really hasn’t been talked about at all by the officials who would be involved, and probably won’t be on the New Jersey side, since the Amtrak Gateway option has the far better chance of bumping the bulk of the funding up to the federal level (which makes sense, since new through tunnels would benefit riders in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, and not just N.Y.-N.J. residents).

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:09 pm

I don’t see either jurisdiction coughing up much if anything for this. I wonder if you could do it this way: get some federal manna from heaven and then have a private company front the rest, maintain the NJ station(s) and trackage and charge what it wants as an entry fares at the NJ station(s). Maybe they’d change a peak fare of $7-8, I don’t know, but perhaps it can actually get built this way. I’d rather go that way then simply dismiss the idea out of hand. If it’s financeable as a PPP, you could have thousands of people working on this project and add a nice piece of regional infrastructure.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 2:35 pm

A PPP means higher financing costs for no discernible benefit that I can see. There are 2-3 agencies with the skills and resources to finance the project on their own that could work together, and public agencies can borrow money more cheaply than private ones can.

The problem comes after financing. If you’re right and enough people are willing to pay $7-$8 to come in that way, it’s probably a no-brainer to build it. Of course, would that $7-$8 be on top of the $7-$8 they might already be paying to come in? If so, (still-subsidized) driving might be cheaper. :-\

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:46 pm

“A PPP means higher financing costs for no discernible benefit that I can see.”

The benefit is having an extension vs. having no extension. I don’t mean to be a wise guy, but that’s the difference. Ideally you’d have a public run station for a $2 fare, but if the ideal is unaffordable, I’d personally rather have another option.

“public agencies can borrow money more cheaply than private ones can.”

I hear that a lot. Yes, the public agency can borrow at a tax-subsidized rate. But that’s an argument for the government to sell soap, run department stores, etc. They’d always have a financing cost advantage. But the government can’t sell equity, and moreover in real life, the private sector “can” do things cheaper for reasons wholly separate from cost of financing.

“If you’re right and enough people are willing to pay $7-$8 to come in that way, it’s probably a no-brainer to build it.”

I have no idea what the right fare is, but you’d probably have different fares at different times. The fare would have to be comparable to the current Secaucus NJT fare, which I think is at least $5.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 4:02 pm

I don’t see a problem with upfront financing, if the numbers were there to support selling bonds to build an extension. A public agency can do it better than a private one can, but either would do it the same way. The numbers are not there, and a private company doesn’t make them materialize.

I hear that a lot. Yes, the public agency can borrow at a tax-subsidized rate.

It’s cheaper because the risk of default is lower and, yes, the bonds are tax-free.

But that’s an argument for the government to sell soap, run department stores, etc.

No, it’s not. It doesn’t take 10-figure investments to create soap, and soap is purely for private use and consumption. Transportation is pretty important for just about every function of commerce we humans perform.

I have trouble even seeing what interest the state has in encouraging soap consumption. But then, I have trouble seeing why it should be interested in private, consensual sexual conduct too. :-\

But the government can’t sell equity, and moreover in real life, the private sector “can” do things cheaper for reasons wholly separate from cost of financing.

With big infrastructure projects, financing and financing costs are kind of the elephant in the room. Increasing the costs by a few percent can mean hundreds of millions of dollars.* All things being equal, the advantages private companies bring to the table are easily captured by contracting the work out to someone who wants to do it, no PPP necessary.

* To wit: the difference in total interest payments between $1B borrowed for 30y at 3% and 4%: $204,325,194.40. That’s a lot of Curd Museums for Wisconsin!

Justin Samuels April 4, 2012 - 4:13 pm

Governor, Christie, the man who killed the ARC project, is still governor. So the Flushing Line extension will not happen because NJ will not pay for it, and likely will not contribute operationally to the MTA in the future.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 4:29 pm

Yep. All things being equal, I’d be all for it, but if NJ isn’t interested I agree we should move on. Lower-hanging fruit.

Nyland8 April 5, 2012 - 9:16 am

Actually, Governor Crusty liked the idea. He understood that the 7 extension to Lautenberg did everything that the ARC project did, and more, but without building a skyscraper under Manhattan to do it.

New Jersey’s governor didn’t like what he perceived would be the downstream financial burden of finishing ARC, but he’s not a stupid man, and he does understand the upside to his state of the intent of the project.

The 7 to Secaucus should NOT be allowed to die – not only because it’s a good idea, but because it does so much for so little when compared to other options. People should stop focusing on what it costs, and start focusing on what it saves – including the air we breathe. That’s how the bi-state political will can be cultivated.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 4:19 pm

Note that the Revel Casino down in AC is a $2.5 billion or so project. There is private capital for projects out there, if the governments weren’t so averse from tapping into it.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 4:45 pm

There is no question about that. But, in either case, who do you think buys the bonds? If it’s being financed privately, there is a risk (and tax) premium on each Revel Casino bond sold. If the municipality steps in and finances it, by guaranteeing the bonds or making them tax-exempt, you have a public-private partnership. Why might that happen? The casino could probably save a few hundred million dollars, the municipality/state probably gets some tax income revenue.

Such a structure would work wonderfully for a profitable project with a guaranteed income stream, but do you see it working for the 7? That’s why a PPP is unlikely to be an effective solution in this case.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 5:08 pm

Yes I do, if the numbers allow it. There is global capital looking to fund projects. Some of that capital gets burned too, which is no loss to the people using the paid-for system. That capital can be tapped absent a municipal guarantee on the bonds. Private capital is building HOT lanes in Virginia right now, as we speak, with no muni guaranteeing anything. Private capital financed the Las Vegas monorail (and got taken to the cleaners).

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 5:58 pm

Near as I can tell, these examples are private companies making relatively minor investments either out of pocket or with short-term financing and reaping the benefit of a cash flow until payback and a nice premium. Even then, the government might actually be burning money by giving it away to cronies rather than just keeping it itself.

A 7 extension is a years-long investment that doesn’t see cashflow until revenue service begins and doesn’t ever turn a profit.

Larry Littlefield April 4, 2012 - 10:38 am

To put things in persepctive, see this chart.


Generation Greed has bankrupted the country — federal, state, local, corporate, personal — and promised itself a long retirement with extensive health care services to be financed by someone else in the future.

Our situation is comparable to that of London after WWII. We’re broke. The problem lasted a long time, during which there was little infrastructure investment. But there has been infrastucture investmetn for the past decade there.

They had two devastating wars. We had a national party, with older generations, the rich, and retired public employees getting most of the benefits.

Nyland8 April 5, 2012 - 6:52 pm

Uh … no. I think you’ve hit the trifecta of revisionist history.

First, the country is not bankrupt. Second, the current financial malaise was not caused by retired public employees. Third, the rising costs of health care is a systemic problem created, in part, by a private, for profit, health care system that has operated, up until quite recently, under perverse incentives. (Their “best customer” doesn’t require their services at all – and the people who most require their services are the ones that were summarily dropped from coverage, or refused coverage by reason of pre-existing condition)

If anything, “generation greed” refers to the banking and investment class, the military industrial complex, the pharmaceutical industry … among others. If there’s a true bankruptcy in our future, it will likely lay at their feet.

Frank B April 4, 2012 - 11:56 am

For the cost of this project, we could have completed the Staten Island Tunnel, spurring growth on an island that was once estimated to have a capacity of 3 million people but has one-sixth of that.

Again, while there is nothing personal against New Jersey, Staten Island remains disconnected by rail and only connected by road to the rest of the city; an inadequate connection in a city where only half of all households own a car, and the subway is the lifeblood of the city.

Finish the IND Second Avenue Line, Start the Triboro RX from Brooklyn to Queens, (That part should be the easiest), and complete the Staten Island Tunnel.

Then we’ll talk about New Jersey, which voluntarily canceled a tunnel 20 years in the making which would have tremendously increased their own capacity, mitigating any of this ‘7 to Secaucus nonsense’.

And, once again, I’ll state that in this day and age, any IRT expansion should be limited due to skinnier subway cars with lower capacity. Think long term. IND/BMT Loading Gauge should be the only lines extended.

Bolwerk April 4, 2012 - 12:23 pm

And, once again, I’ll state that in this day and age, any IRT expansion should be limited due to skinnier subway cars with lower capacity. Think long term. IND/BMT Loading Gauge should be the only lines extended.

New construction is easily convertible to IND specs. It’s silly to refuse to extend IRT services when it makes sense to do so though. There isn’t a good IND/BMT alternative to putting the 7 on the west side. Not that putting the 7 on the west side is a great idea either….

If ever a future generation wants to build an 11th Avenue subway, the spur could be converted.

Eric April 4, 2012 - 12:30 pm

Could have extended the L uptown, and it would have eliminated the bottleneck at 8th Avenue. More tunnelling though.

Joe Steindam April 4, 2012 - 12:50 pm

But not by a large amount. The 7’s tail tracks go down to at least 26th Street. So it’s around 20 blocks for the 7 vs maybe 25 or 30 blocks for the L from to Javits plus some extra for tail tracks. It’s more tunneling sure, but it’s tough to say because we don’t know how the L extension to Javits would’ve been planned.

But the L was never considered for this purpose, since the goal was providing access to and from the midtown market, which the L does not serve. Despite it’s logic, an extension of the L will be a long time coming.

pea-jay April 4, 2012 - 1:52 pm

Adding 50 or so extra feet of tunnel would be nice to allow for faster entry into the 8av station though. I can’t image that would be too pricey

Eric April 4, 2012 - 3:06 pm

My own personal dream expansion would be a new 23rd Street Crosstown heading into Brooklyn via a new tunnel and continuing down Metropolitan Avenue and the Van Wyck with its terminus at JFK. This would include a 23rd St/11th Avenue station for the 7 and L and a direct transfer to/from the G at Greenpoint or Nassau Avenue, and another stop in Eastern Greenpoint. This would also bring subway service to some underserved areas of Queens.

This would also be great for access to JFK from pretty much any subway line in Manhattan.

Of course I know this will never happen for a variety of reasons.

Ed April 4, 2012 - 11:14 pm

I like pipe dreams, but why 23rd Street for a crosstown line? One of the three crosstown lines (dubiously counting the N/R/Q) in Manhattan runs nine blocks south on 14th Street.

There is a good case for a 34th Street crosstown line if it was feasible to build anything, since you wind up connecting with various non-MTA rail links. But there is probably a greater need for such a line uptown. But I’ve lived here for over forty years and never thought “damn, we really need a crosstown line on 23rd Street!”

pea-jay April 4, 2012 - 11:53 pm

We could use a new cross-town 102 blocks north on 125th St. Why should mid town get all the flexibility?

Jason B. April 7, 2012 - 3:24 am


Bolwerk April 5, 2012 - 12:43 am

The E, 7, and L are all crosstown. I don’t disagree with the N/R/Q, especially given the swing from Times Square to Queens.

I dunno, I don’t think 23rd is strictly necessary, but greater crosstown subway coverage in general would probably be good.

Eric April 5, 2012 - 9:52 am

Well, a few reasons–one, it allows for fairly easy transfers to pretty much every subway line in Manhattan, even the L and the 7. Two, it opens up Greenpoint and many areas of Queens/Brooklyn that currently don’t have good transit, and three, it would get a line to JFK. I think a 23rd/11th to JFK run could be done in 45 minutes.

Of course you could also reroute a 23rd Street crosstown onto 34th Street. It might make more sense to do that because you’d already have a station at 34th/11th to utilize. I imagine tunnelling to Brooklyn would be harder because of the Queens Midtown tunnel, though, unless you dogleg the line a few blocks to the south.

Of course the other argument to make it yes, there is a 14th Street Crosstown already, but in arguing for a 34th Street Crosstown, you have to acknowledge that there’s already a 42nd Street Crosstown.

It’s all just for fun though–none of this will ever get built.

It shouldn’t be prioritized over other more necessary expansions, like Phases 3 and 4 of SAS, or a 125th Street Crosstown.

Ed April 5, 2012 - 12:55 pm

I thought of the issue that there are only eight blocks between 34th Street and 42nd Street, but the difference is that along 34th Street you hit the Amtrak terminal, the New Jersey Transit and LIRR terminals, and the PATH. Plus Macy’s. Along 23rd Street there is nothing, not even major subway interchanges like at Herald Square or Union Square. But yes, you dogleg to avoid the Midtown tunnel (unless you can convert the tunnel to rail!), And uptown should get first priority on any new crosstown link anyway.

Eric April 5, 2012 - 3:38 pm

Those are good points. A one-seat ride from Penn to JFK would be amazing.

Alon Levy April 7, 2012 - 5:07 pm

I used to think 23rd would be a good choice, but it’s not – it’s too far away from where most employment is, and also misses Union Square. If there’s money for crosstown lines in Midtown, it should go to 50th and 34th, going east to Queens. Greenpoint has a good G/L transfer and a semi-decent G/7 transfer, and either crosstown option would give it another good G transfer. Queens in contrast has the same number of Manhattan-bound commuters as Brooklyn, with only 3.5 subway tunnel pairs, vs. 9 for Brooklyn; on top of it, Long Island City is an actual job center.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:28 pm

“For the cost of this project, we could have completed the Staten Island Tunnel, spurring growth on an island that was once estimated
to have a capacity of 3 million people but has one-sixth of that.”

Lhota’s point is that the 7 is not finaceable, so the cost that kills the 7 easily kills a fanciful dead-end tunnel to Staten Island. By the way, Queens, which is bigger than S.I. and wired with train lines doesn’t have 3 million people. How you’d stick another 2.4 million people (i.e., a Chicago) in that box is beyond me, and might constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Take a look at Ben’s map. The 7 connects Queens to Newark airport, the region’s west to Queens. A tunnel to Staten Island for the same price produces much less utility.

Phantom April 4, 2012 - 8:13 pm

No one on Staten Island wants to have a 3 million population there. They live there because it’s not so densely populated. Why does every part of the city have to have the same apartment house lifestyle?

A tunnel to SI would hurt more than help it.

Alon Levy April 7, 2012 - 5:13 pm

Staten Island has the longest commutes nationwide. Having to drive over the bridge through Brooklyn, or take a slow ferry, is the main reason why. Put the damn tunnel, replace 25 minutes of ferry plus transfer time with 6 minutes of train, connect SI to where so many people work.

Bolwerk April 8, 2012 - 11:06 am

I agree, but it’s far from worth it for everyone else in the city as long as zoning on SI precludes sensible transit development. We certainly don’t need 3M people on that island, but 1M might be closer to the sweet spot.

Nyland8 April 5, 2012 - 7:05 pm

That’s funny … because you think that going into New Jersey precludes connecting Staten Island, when in fact, the shortest distance – and cheapest price – to Staten Island connectivity is actually through New Jersey.

Staten Island’s northern corridor should be reopened, the PATH system should be subsumed into the MTA, and the combined SIR/PATH could have a single seat ride from Tottenville to Herald Square with the swipe of a MetroCard – and all for a fraction of what it would cost in time, engineering and money to tunnel across the Narrows – which, by the way, is a MUCH bigger tunneling project than running the 7 across the Hudson. And even if you did it, the existing SIR wouldn’t be compatible with the train coming from Brooklyn, which means you’d still have a minimum two-seat ride.

The most viable solution to Staten Island’s subway connectivity runs through New Jersey … not before it.

Alon Levy April 7, 2012 - 5:14 pm

…and how do you expect the SIR to hook into PATH exactly?

Stu Sutcliffe April 4, 2012 - 12:43 pm

How about extending service across Queens and to Staten Island first?

Frank McArdle April 4, 2012 - 1:27 pm

I agree with those who say we should work at home first. We should fix things in the NYCT system that we know don’t work well and then we should extend as was thought through in the IND plans. We know that fixing the bottleneck at Nostrand Junction will add substantially to the throughput on the IRT system in Brooklyn. Why aren’t we doing that? We can improve access to and from the Rockaways for Manhattan workers if we reopen the old route through Kew Gardens. Why aren’t we doing that? New York City and the MTA seem to lack a vision of what the extended system should really look like and how its further development should be integrated into our plans for new housing and jobs within the five boroughs. Consider how many areas now really locked out of good transit would be opened up if the plans to build the ‘second IND’ had not been thwarted by the 30s modernists. That’s where Robert Moses and his patrons really had their worst impact.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:01 pm

I like your map a lot. It shows on e of the key benefits of the extension, which would be a transfer free ride from Queens to NJ. That’s exactly the kind of regional connectivity expansion that is so sorely needed.

I was a bit aghast by Lhota’s statement to the effect that NJ would love it because they’d a 2.25 ride into NYC. Um, setting aside that you could charge whatever you decide at the NJ fare gates, does he know what the PATH fare is? The fare on the buses from Hudson County? It’s amazing how Balkanized this region is.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 2:23 pm

“Mayor Bloomberg[‘s] . . . lasting legacies will be a meager extension of the 7 to Hudson Yards and a controversial arena in Brooklyn. Transit hasn’t been a top priority.”

Is that right? It seems like the 2nd avenue subway started moving dirt during his mayoralty and the select bus thingy started during his terms. The 7 to Hudson Yards actually strikes me as an enormous achievement, simply because it’s an actual subway extension after decades without any. The 7 and the Deuce are multi-billion dollar projects! He’s certainly been hostile to regional vehicle traffic connectivity, which I think is self-defeating, and you can always fault him for not doing more, but I’d have to look at it as more being done now than had been the case for a long time. If these were projects put on autopilot from prior mayors and would have happened anyway, then it’s a different story of course.

Justin Samuels April 4, 2012 - 4:17 pm

The LIRR under grand central started when Bloomberg was mayor, along with the second avenue subway, and the Flushing Line to Grand Central. Under Bloomberg, you had the first expansion of the system in a long time. Under mayors in the 60s and 70s, most of the myrtle avenue line was torn down, the culver shuttle was torn down, the third avenue el in the bronx was torn down, etc. The Airtran to JFK was built under Bloomberg’s mayoralty.

Eric F April 4, 2012 - 5:05 pm

The JFK Airtrain was definitely Giuliani era in planning, design and permitting. I think even some of the construction was started during Rudy’s term, if I’m not mistaken. That one doesn’t redound to Bloomberg one way or another. Plus the whole shebang was financed by airline ticket charges so every bit of the project was just taking it’s course when Bloomberg was mayor.

Phantom April 5, 2012 - 7:58 pm

The Culver Shuttle had very low ridership. It was not needed. It should have been taken down.

Just as we should be building lines that are needed, we should cull lines or stations that don’t serve enough people in relation to what they cost.

Bolwerk April 7, 2012 - 2:30 pm

True perhaps, but had it lasted another 25 years, it might have proven handy. Likewise the Myrtle El, had it lasted another 30.

Alon Levy April 7, 2012 - 5:27 pm

SAS was never Bloomberg’s project. The politician most responsible for getting the money for it is Shelly Silver. Likewise, the politician who was most responsible for funding ESA is Pataki.

Bloomberg could claim credit if he’d tried to take control to expedite the project (or appear to expedite it) or give city money to help complete it or to fund Phase 2, but he didn’t. Instead, he spent the city’s money on the 7 extension. That, and only that, is his baby, as far as rail expansion is concerned.

SBS is a city project, you’re right, but nowadays the people who support such projects assign credit to JSK. It’s the people who oppose them who usually assign credit to Bloomberg, who is more of a lightning rod of populist criticism.

David Brown April 4, 2012 - 3:42 pm

I actually took NJ Transit from Penn Station (NY) to Penn Station (NJ) on Monday, and it was not a bad trip for $5.00 each way (Cheaper then my daily trip to Farmingdale From Penn Station, and a lot more trains). Simply put, we really do not need the 7 train going to NJ, because if the cost involved which would have been in the billions, and even if we had the money (And we don’t), there are regional transportation alternatives that would make sense (A reconstruction of the Republic Station at 110 and Conklin St (Suffolk) comes to mind, as do additional Metro North Stations in the Bronx, a third rail on the LIRR for increased MacArthur Airport access, and and a rail connection to LaGuardia).

Justin Samuels April 4, 2012 - 4:14 pm

I agree, any money to be spent on the Flushing Line to NJ is NYC money better spent on projects within NY

Kevin P. April 4, 2012 - 9:14 pm

This comes as no surprise considering they couldn’t even scrape together enough nickels for a station at 10th Avenue.

Jonathan April 4, 2012 - 9:53 pm

Your three reasons for our limited transit expansion are reasonable, but I think a fourth may be at least as important: the extraordinary cost of rapid transit expansion in New York City. The cost per kilometre of these infrastructure projects (both road and transit) are way out of line with peer cities in North America, Europe, and Asia. As others have demonstrated, if our cost per kilometre were as low as in Western Europe, where wages are at least as high as our own, we could be building like it was 1925 again with the money we’re spending on our current stub extensions.

Matt April 5, 2012 - 8:51 am

I think your use of the term death is a little insensitive given the recent accident on this project (sic) 7 Line Ext.

AlexB April 5, 2012 - 10:42 am

Still think the 7 extension would make a lot more sense if it were extended to Hoboken instead of Secaucus with stops at 23rd and 11th, Washington and 9th in Hoboken, a new station under Hoboken Station and a connection to the existing PATH tracks just north of Pavonia-Newport. The PATH route from Journal Square to 33rd would be eliminated and a new route put in place from Newark to Flushing via 42nd. Half the 7 trains would end at Hoboken and the other half would go all the way to Newark. Everybody gets more access to East Midtown and subway construction is limited to areas that deserve it – Hoboken is one of the densest cities in the US.

Nyland8 April 5, 2012 - 7:18 pm

In a sane world, the 7 should take the shortest route – which should include one stop at the north end of Hoboken just far enough west of Stevens Institute to rise up out of the estuary, one stop at 9th and Congress to pick up the HBLR, and then on to Secaucus transfer. It should also have at least one more stop in Manhattan, probably at 23rd Street … and a 41st/10th Ave stop after the Javits should be funded as well. Those would all represent logical distances between stops and sufficient commuter densities to justify the expansion.

smartone April 6, 2012 - 9:51 am

The reason this was killed was Christie . Christie has no interest in this line.He merely grabbed onto this 7 train to NJ to deflect criticism his killing of ARC project.
Not it is the MTA not Christie who killed a new tunnel to NJ.
If Christie was serious he would be the one spearheading this initiative. He could have gotten some of the Billions in Federal ARC project money onto this project. The fact that Chrisite didn’t lift a finger to move this idea forward shows he merely did this for political show.

JC Joe April 6, 2012 - 11:07 pm

Here’s a longshot – Have the Port Authority incorporate the 7 into the PATH system, with a Queens extension to LGA, and on the Jersey side, extend it south of Secaucus to connect with PATH to Harrison and Newark Penn, with an extension of PATH to EWR. New Jersey needs to be in the lead on this, with a real estate tax on areas around new stations, and with a portion of the Port Authority’s airport income allocated to the project as well. There are very few regional transport projects that would offer more new connectivity throughout the region and across transport modes.

Nyland8 April 7, 2012 - 12:29 am

PATH is already well on its way to EWR. The SIR intends to reopen the northern corridor. PATH and SIR both operate under modified FRA rules, and connecting them would be relatively easy. The MTA could run it as a C division, dictated by the restrictions of the Hudson tubes. In the short term, there’s already a viable bascule bridge across the Arthur Kill … but it’s only one track. Over the long haul, either another trestle bridge can be built, or the replacement for the Goethals can easily include rail traffic for a fraction of the cost of tunneling into Brooklyn.

The 7 should run through Hoboken to Secaucus – because it’s close, because it can, because it would cost a fraction of the price of building the equivalent of Trump Tower under Manhattan, and because it would do the same job even better than the ARC project it’s designed to replace.

The Port Authority doesn’t need to be in the commuter subway business. It should build the freight tunnel from New Jersey to Brooklyn that it was created to do 4 generations ago. And it should also build an extension to the existing AirTrain from Jamaica to LaGuardia via the Van Wyck. That would connect LGA and JFK. In other words, real Port Authority concerns. But it should divest itself of its subway system entirely. Graft it onto the MTA, do away with one more bureaucracy, and promote decisions that are regionally based and not provincially myopic. We all live in one metropolitan area, and we all suffer the consequences of pollution, road congestion and our ongoing reliance on fossil fuel. Let’s move into the 21st century.

Phantom April 7, 2012 - 1:14 pm

Agree with this.

The PA should not only get out of the subway business, it should grt out of the real estate business. Over time it should divest the WTC, which it should never have been involved in.

Bolwerk April 7, 2012 - 2:22 pm

I get 7/PATH to EWR or Secaucus, but I don’t get spending billions$ of the PA’s money building a big city transit system in what is mostly a suburban periphery. Some pretty low-hanging fruit for a two-seat midtown ride, albeit hardly an ideal one, is connecting the PATH to Secaucus. The 7 could always join later.

(And, one thing everyone is ignoring: if we’re going to spend money on a big system expansion of the NYC subway, the most beneficial that involves going to New Jersey without getting New Jersey money would be midtown to Staten Island, and then to EWR. It’s even a suitable SAS expansion option.)

marvin April 11, 2012 - 1:33 am

Perhaps connecting the hudson Path tunnel that currently serves midtown to an extended #7 would give much more utility to that tunnel and finally give Jersey riders reasonble access to Grand Central and the east side withhold a new Hudson RIver tunnel. Jersey users who need to go to herald square are reasonably served by Jersey transit to Penn Station. Such a line would in fact draw traffic from NJ Transit trains into Penn, thus aleviating some of the capacity issues at Penn.

If funds were available, the hoboken jersey terminal could be relocated west to allow for the line to be a transfer point for NJ transit while still continuing west toward Newark/Newark (Liberty) Airport. (The tradeoff is of course loosing the ferry access.) A branch paralelling I-78 and then onto and over the Bayonne Bridge could link to the SIRR giving one seat Manhattan (both west and east side)access again without a new Hudson tunnel. The 11 car #7 trains would run at the highest number of trains per hour possible.

In dealing with capacity issues at the Flushing end, a branch leaving the line at the Grand Central Parkway could serve LaGuadia Airport.

If the success of such a line would over tax #7 platform at grand Central Station, the addition of one side platform (with the current center platform serving only one direction)could be considered.


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