Calls grow to reopen the old South Ferry loop


To recommission the old South Ferry loop, gap-fillers would have to be reinstalled. (Photo by flickr user Marcin Wichary)

With around 15,000 Staten Islanders a day faced with a longer walk and inconvenient journeys, Staten Island officials and MTA Board representatives have called upon the agency to reopen the old five-car loop station at least on a temporary basis. The station has not been open for four years, though, and the MTA has resisted calls to reopen it.

“Old South Ferry is completely decommissioned and no longer an entrance,” Deirdre Parker, an agency spokesperson, said to the Staten Island Advance. “We don’t want to divert funds from rebuilding the new station in trying to recommission the old one.”

The story, from Ken Paulsen, goes a bit like this:

Staten Island’s representative to the MTA board, Allen P. Cappelli, says the agency needs to take a closer look, especially in light of the long-term timeline for rebuilding the “new” station. “I think it’s an idea that needs to be considered in the short run, and I will certainly raise it” with MTA officials, including Interim President Thomas Prendergast…

But for now, his agency is not even considering re-opening the old station to commuters. Thanks to the installation of a temporary signal system, the old station is now being used as the train turn around point — just as it did for more than a century. But when the 1 train now rumbles through the old station on its way back to Rector Street — the current terminus — there are no commuters waiting to board. The MTA says the old entrance to the South Ferry is now property of the city Department of Transportation, which runs the adjacent Staten Island Ferry. Additionally, the only stairway to the station “was halved to allow for an employee facility,” and the station is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“None of these things is insurmountable,” Cappelli countered. He added that House and Senate approval of the Hurricane Sandy relief package means that the MTA knows it will get the cash to make repairs that are needed to its system — allowing it to seriously explore the feasibility of re-opening the old South Ferry station. “This is not a ‘Where are we going to get the money’ issue,” he said.

The issue for Cappelli, and Staten Island politicians who issued a similar call last month, is about timing at money. It’s going to take around three years to get the new South Ferry in working order, and Cappelli says that’s not fair or acceptable to Staten Island residents. “Three years is an unrealistic period of time to wait and I am going to be pressing agency officials to come up with a plan to get this done in shorter period of time,” he said.

Finding a way to cut the work time is a better solution, but what this article misses about the old South Ferry station is extensive. The gap fillers are gone; the station would need to secure an ADA waiver; and it too suffered extensive damage during Sandy. That, I believe, is key. Despite a temporary signal system for turning trains, the main South Ferry loop signals were controlled by the equipment in the damaged station, and a good chunk of the cost of repairs will go toward repairing that signal system whether old South Ferry is reactivated or not.

Additionally, there are questions of money and manpower. Although the feds are footing the bill for the South Ferry repairs, this isn’t an endless piggy bank, and the MTA would have to request even more for a reactivation of the old station. Furthermore, getting it ready for use would involve a shuffling work schedules and using man-hours that could be better spent on the current South Ferry station.

Of course, as Cappelli noted, none of these issues are insurmountable. If the MTA wants to reopen South Ferry, it could find a way to pay for the project while working on South Ferry. Whether they should, well, I’ll leave that up to you to debate.

Categories : Manhattan

81 Responses to “Calls grow to reopen the old South Ferry loop”

  1. Berk32 says:

    it’s not like this guy is some local politician who doesn’t know the details of the MTA or the status of the station… he’s on the damn board… wtf….

  2. Brian says:

    3+ years is a loooooong time, if The Old Loop Can be reopened within a couple of months it is most definitely worth it. I think the MTA is exaggerating the problems of reopening the loop because they fear once reopened people will call for them to just abandon the new station. But if the old loop can be reopened by say the Spring or Summer its worth it. That is 2.5 years of service.

    • Berk32 says:

      It can’t be reopened in a matter of months

      • Brian says:

        what would a reasonable timeframe be for the loop, In your estimation?

        • Berk32 says:

          well lets see…. who knows how long it would take to get approval to waive the ADA requirement…. somehow i doubt that would happen at all…

          the gap fillers would have to be brand new… i have little idea how long that would take to design – bid – and build them or how much they would cost… but this never happens in a span of ‘a couple of months’ when it come to government jobs.

          let’s just say i’m not very optimistic about re-opening as being realistic

          • Frank B says:

            I don’t understand why there’s an ADA Requirement. Why is the MTA required to have an elevator at South Ferry, and not say, Whitehall Street or Bowling Green?

            • Berk32 says:

              (1) Bowling Green has elevators
              (2) all stations must be made ADA compliant when they are renovated

              • Berk32 says:

                if it’s possible to install elevators of course…. there are many stations in the system where its not possible and never will be… (there’s also some budget rules involved – if they aren’t spending a lot for a station then they don’t need to add an elevator – clearly in this instance a lot of $ would be required)

                • John-2 says:

                  It’s a mayoral and council election year in New York, and you’ve got a governor who hums “Hail to the Chief” to himself when he’s at the urinal. If the MTA can’t get a date earlier than 2016 to reopen lower SF, and if the cost to do it remains at the $600m mark, the reopening of the upper station at least on a temporary basis is going to become even more of a political football as the year goes on, and especially after the A train is reconnected to the Rockaways, leaving SF as the only major piece of infrastructure still on the disabled list.

                  (And the waiver really isn’t the problem — the feds aren’t going to tell Staten Island residents already dealing with Sandy’s aftermath to stick it where the moon don’t shine on the getting their old station back, if the waiver would just be for a stopgap measure. The problem is the MTA worries that if the old station reopens, that mega-bill for fixing the new one may become less and less palatable, especially if it turns out ADA-ing the old station is still 50 percent or less of the lower station option.)

                  • D.R. Graham says:

                    The problem with this argument is the idea of the MTA footing the bill. As mentioned before here and several other places the money comes from the Feds. Therefore it is not the MTA’s choice to take that money and fix the loop station and walk away with the remaining cash. If the feds give the money to fix the full station then the full station has to be fixed and I’m sure as hard as it was to get that bill through congress there is no way they are going to fund an additional $200-300 Million to fix the loop station for a temp use basis.

                    • Someone says:

                      If the MTA does spend $200 million to open this lost cause, then the SF renovation will end up costing more than what it cost to build the station in the first place.

                    • John-2 says:

                      Never underestimate a pandering politician in an election year and his or her ability to commit money that’s not there to a project, if it gets them votes. The MTA does need to come out with an upper SF stopgap rehab cost estimate, if for no other reason than to itemize the tasks involved and show why they can’t do it to the pols running for city office this fall and the gov looking for a mandate election win next year to jump-start him into 2016.

                    • Someone says:

                      The pols are going to end up crooked and allot the money to projects other than the SF renovation.

                    • SEAN says:

                      None of this really matters if an ADA waver isn’t issued, and it won’t because the rules are clear regarding station rehabs.

            • Someone says:

              Bowling Green does have elevators, though it is a short walk from South Ferry.

              Whitehall was considered for elevators, but it wasn’t installed in the station.

              For a new station to open (or reopen), it must be ADA-accessible, it’s been the law since 1990.

        • D.R. Graham says:

          The cost is so insanely prohibitive for a station that would only be used for a very short amount of time if resources aren’t taken away from getting the new station back up. As a matter of fact considering the inner loop and it’s contribution to the environment to the outer loop and station I wouldn’t call it far fetched to say it could take two years to get it ready if that was the plan.

          • Brian says:

            Well if its 2 years then its obviously not worth it. I knew it wasnt something that could be done overnight, but i was figuring 6 months wouldve been a reasonable amount of time. But 2 years is clearly not worth it I’d say the longest that would be worth it is if they were able to get it open by the end of this year.

    • D.R. Graham says:

      The old loop can’t even be reopened within this year. Everyone seems to think that the loop went without damage which is completely untrue. The switches are damaged. The signaling system through the loop is a temp job. The gap fillers are gone and now used at Union Square and all of the remaining components have been storm damaged. The dispatchers office and signaling room for the loop is damaged. The station itself is damaged. All of the problems that exist at the new station with the mold also exist at the loop station and unless you want people to grin and bear it I would think again.

  3. D.R. Graham says:

    The rebuilding of the signal system is going to cause 1 trains to start terminating at 14th Street very soon and then they will complain about that. In all honesty the work in that area should not have to compete with the good of the service so that the time it takes to get the work done can be cut some.

    One other issue that’s forgotten about is the fact that there are two switches down there that allow Lexington Avenue traffic to move from the inner loop to the outer loop and followed by another switch that allows 7th Avenue traffic to move from the outer to the inner. Obviously they work in conjunction with the signal system. Those switches are stuck in place. Meaning any derailment or major emergency in that area comes with extreme limits in terms of options for train movements. The NYCT doesn’t work by that logic and those switches have to be repaired before every considering resuming revenue services to that station. However it’s not the priority and just another reason why reactivation is not going to happen.

  4. Berk32 says:

    I just don’t understand how anyone could justify spending hundreds of millions of tax payer $ (does it matter if its state or federal?) on a temporary station that would actually worsen service on the 1 line and not serve more people while spending hundreds of millions more on redoing the permanent station…. I just can’t….

    The southern entrance to the 1 train Rector Street stop (its right at the tunnel entrance at Morris st) is a 7 minute walk from the South Ferry terminal…. it’s about the same to the 2/3 Wall St stop… cmon people… lots of subway riders walk more than that on a daily basis… get over yourselves… I don’t want to hear that it’s cold outside… everyone walks in Manhattan….

  5. JJJ says:

    Looking at the photograph….

    Ladies and gentlemen, “platform screen doors”. $500 at home depot and 2 hours of installation. Me and my buddies will bid to do 50 stations for only $25 million, beating the next lowest bid by about $75 million.

  6. Herb Lehman says:

    Even as someone who relies on that station, I don’t think reactivating the old station temporarily makes sense. Old South Ferry was decommissioned for a reason: it was dangerously outmoded for use as a major train terminal.

    I think a more realistic solution would be to increase R service to an acceptable level (or reinstate the W temporarily, even if it doesn’t travel its entire route — forgive my ignorance here, is it technically feasible to turn trains around at 57th St with both the N and Q continuing on to Astoria?) and perhaps offering a free MetroCard transfer at Rector St for those who don’t want to make the half mile walk. The 1 and R Rector St stations are within feet of each other.

  7. David says:

    I’m pretty sure the entrance to the old station has been converted into some sort of eating establishment. It’s just not open yet. I was peaking through the window the other day, and it looked like some fancy cabinets and kitchen equipment had been installed.

  8. Someone says:

    I think this is a very very bad idea- no one is going to support the idea of another 5-car station that required gap fillers to use in the first place. Also, this station is permanently closed, with the gapfillers deactivated and cannibalised for parts for the gapfillers at Union Square. It is also not ADA-accessible, thus it cannot be reopened.

  9. John Doe says:

    How come the Chinese can build entire subway systems in a manner of months and it take us 3 years to re open a station? This is why the USA is falling behind quickly and will be unrecognizable in 20-30 years.

  10. Larry Littlefield says:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, “platform screen doors”. $500 at home depot and 2 hours of installation. Me and my buddies will bid to do 50 stations for only $25 million, beating the next lowest bid by about $75 million.”

    The man has a point. No, there are no doors. But the space between the doors is blocked off. And it could eventually be blocked off by solid walls — IF the MTA commits to keeping the door positions the same place for all subsequent car classes.

    The expense of moving parts goes away. People could still fall, jump or be pushed, but the area where that could happen would be reduced considerably. And perhaps doors could be added later, at some point in the future.

    You’d still have clearance issues. And the conductor might have to rely on cameras to see down the platform. But what the heck?

  11. John Doe says:

    “We don’t have people working for pennies an hour in our country.”
    If we don’t start, we’ll quickly fall behind, it’s already happening, oh well…

  12. Bolwerk says:

    Boo hoo, the chubby suburbanites have to walk four whole blocks. Talk about first world problems.

    The focus should be on fixing the system.

    • Someone says:

      Talk about laziness. If Staten Islanders can’t even walk to Bowling Green on a daily basis, they don’t deserve to work here.

      • Walking to Bowling Green doesn’t accomplish anything if you’re trying to go from the ferry terminal to the West Side though.

        • Someone says:

          It does. You can just take the L westbound at Union Square, or get off at Brooklyn Bridge-Chambers Street and walk 3 blocks to the 1/2/3 station.

          For those without a wheelchair, one simply has to transfer at Fulton Street.

        • Larry Littlefield says:

          The Bowling Green entrance in Battery Park is overloaded, or was when I was there in mid-December.

          Staten Islanders who take the ferry and the subway have multiple linked trips, which takes a lot of time of the distance traveled. Five minutes is not much. Five minues on top of other things is.

          There is something else coming however — bikeshare.

          Hopefully there will be lots of bikes at the ferry, so Staten Isladers can grab one, have a pleasant ride to their destination, and drop the bike off.

      • Berk32 says:

        Bowling Green is not an option for just about anyone who regularly used the south ferry station (unless they’re traveling north of 42nd – in which case you can ether take the 4/5 to grand central to the S (or to union sq and change to the N/q/r to times square), or just take the R from Whitehall to time square).

        There is no alternative for anyone traveling up the west side to any spot south of 34th st other thank walking to rector or wall st.
        (well they could take 4/5 from bowling green to fulton and change to a/c or even 2/3 if they really wanted to walk across the a/c platform and up a ton of stairs (elevators arent close to being done here) – but all these changes add so much time they’d be better off walking from south ferry to rector/wall)

  13. Someone says:

    Despite a temporary signal system for turning trains, the main South Ferry loop signals were controlled by the equipment in the damaged station, and a good chunk of the cost of repairs will go toward repairing that signal system whether old South Ferry is reactivated or not.

    Just install CBTC already, goddamit!!!
    (Sorry for the foul language.)

    • D.R. Graham says:

      CBTC does nothing for the equipment currently running on the line and even if you were to send upgraded equipment to the line it means nothing if all you’re wiring up for CBTC is the South Ferry station.

      • Someone says:

        No, I meant for the whole line so that the block-signalling system doesn’t have to be reinstalled and destroyed again.

  14. Yet Another Opinion says:

    What about the old station allowed it to sustain less damage than the new one? Unless it did come through the flooding in good shape (and my guess going in would have been that it did not), wouldn’t it take just as long as the new one to repair?

    • Berk32 says:

      the new station is below the old one – so while the new one completely filled up with water (floor to ceiling – i’m sure you’ve seen the photos by now), the old one only had “some” water left in it.

    • Someone says:

      Um… it was damaged just as badly. In fact, I think it sustained even more damage than the lower SF did, as the loop station is very close to ground (and water).

    • dbkoob says:

      no the old station sustained no damage it is only 50 feet below ground the new station tracks are 200 ft below ground and the mezz. 130 ft below ground. And the new station was flooded half way up the mezz. thats why the r station did not sustain that much damage as it is 90 ft below ground the only reason it got flooded is because if east river tunnel back up

  15. John Doe says:

    The station could be opened in a matter of months, construction around the clock 24/7 to get the job done!!!! enough is enough, if the Chinese can do it why cant we?@?@ just do it like Nike

  16. Older and Wiser says:

    What would it cost to run a free shuttle bus back and forth from the southern end of the Rector station right up to the front door of the Ferry Boat terminal itself. My guess would be probably less than $200 million and probably sooner than two years.

  17. AlexB says:

    There is an existing passageway connecting the 1 and R at Rector. Convert it to an in-system transfer. Build a very short pedestrian tunnel (likely just a stairway) between the Park Place 2/3 and the City Hall R (they overlap already) for another in-system transfer. That way, you could get on the R at Whitehall/South Ferry and easily transfer to the 1 or 2/3 for anything on the west side you can’t get to from the R. This would be a much better use of money and could be used in perpetuity, including the next time the station this station becomes unusable.

    • Are you sure you’re not thinking of the shuttered crossunder at Rector St. on the IRT? I can’t find a trace of a passageway between the 1 and R at Rector.

      • Ben says:

        I think he’s thinking of the passageway under Dey St at Cortlandt St, which obviously isn’t usable because the 1 isn’t stopping at Cortlandt St yet.

        • AlexB says:

          No, I was thinking of the one at Rector, but I was wrong. It doesn’t exist. Sorry to confuse. While the south ferry station is out, you could still create an out of system free transfer, the stations are only about 150 feet apart.

    • Someone says:

      Um… where? It either doesn’t exist, or was converted to closet space.

      If the MTA isn’t even going to spend money to make a crossunder for Rector, how do you suppose that such a passageway exists?

  18. g says:

    Since it is highly unlikely that South Ferry will reopen before 2016 (optimistically) perhaps the MTA can accelerate the timetable for opening all the connections at Fulton into 2013 to somewhat ease the commute for Staten Islanders.

    • Someone says:

      Since it is highly unlikely that South Ferry will reopen before 2016 (optimistically)

      More like “pessimistically”.

  19. Jerrold says:

    All this talk about a seven-minute walk (or even about BIKING) makes sense if you’re young, and healthy, and the weather is good. It does not make much sense otherwise.

  20. dbkoob says:

    duh they should have done the day after the hurricane everything is already there all the need is gap fillers and break the concrete seal over the old entrance. The 1 trains have been using the old loop since worth st has been reopened. And the tracks and signals are undamaged.


  1. […] Staten Island representatives breathing down their necks, Transit officials yesterday pledged to reopen the 1 train’s South Ferry terminal station as […]

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