Old South Ferry loop station set to reopen in April

By · Published in 2013

As the new South Ferry remains shuttered in the aftermath of Sandy, the MTA will reopen the decommissioned loop station. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

To provide better train service to Staten Island Ferry-bound customers, the MTA will recommission the 1 train’s old South Ferry loop station, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today. The station — the first ever to be shuttered and then reopened — will require around $2 million worth of work and will see revenue service begin again during the first week in April.

According to Cuomo’s office — which has now begun to take credit for every bit of good news coming out of the MTA — reactivating the old loop will help ease commutes for more than 10,000 riders while allaying some of the crowding that has plagued the 4 and 5 trains in Sandy’s aftermath. Despite this move, the MTA will not drop its $600 million to reconstruct and harden the new South Ferry terminal.

“The MTA has a long, tough job ahead as it tackles the immense job of virtually rebuilding the new South Ferry terminal station that was flooded 80 feet deep during Superstorm Sandy,” Cuomo said in a statement. “For the extended period of time it will take for this work to be completed, we are returning the old station in the complex to service, making travel easier and more convenient for Staten Islanders and others who work and visit this area.”

According to Cuomo, it will take the MTA approximately two years to restore the new South Ferry station, and Staten Island politicians and MTA Board reps called upon the agency to do something sooner. Over the past few weeks, crews have been working around the clock in the old station, and a recent video clearly showed a station nearing recommissioning.

“As MTA New York City Transit assessed the extent of damage to the new South Ferry station, it became clear that the time necessary to repair it would be too long a period to deny our customers a direct link to lower Manhattan,” MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas F. Prendergast said. “We are working to ensure that all elements and systems are fully operational, safe and reliable before restoring service to the old station, but our primary goal remains restoring the new South Ferry station as soon as possible.”

To reopen the old station, the MTA built a new connection between the new mezzanine and the old loop station, thus maintaining the transfer between the 1 and the R at Whilehall St. Crews also had to refurbish the platform edge extenders and reinstall electrical feeds, closed-circuit television systems to monitor the platform, customer assistance intercoms, security cameras and radio communications in the dispatcher’s office. Remaining work includes rehabbing the fare control area and restoring and repainting lighting in the station and adjacent tunnels.

Furthermore, the problems with the old loop station have not been resolved. Doors in only the first five cars will open at South Ferry, and gap fillers will be used to bridge the space between the car doors and the platform. Additionally, the station is rather narrow and was not, in 2009 when it closed, ADA accessible. It’s better though than a two-year wait.

Considering the MTA’s turnaround time on this project, it’s something to see what the MTA and its contractors can accomplish in short order with the right amount of political pressure. Six months after Sandy and less than four months after officials starting making noises about it, the South Ferry station will be reopened after a prolonged period of time without train service. Now if only they could do something about that price tag for work at the new station.

Categories : Manhattan

57 Responses to “Old South Ferry loop station set to reopen in April”

  1. Jerrold says:

    For a change, some very good news from the MTA!
    The only strange thing is why they kept their obvious intentions a secret until now.

    This reminds me of what people were saying about the rubble removal from the World Trade Center site. When everybody involved WANTS to do something fast, it gets done fast.

    • John-2 says:

      I think the initial fear was, with the gianormous price tag to fix lower South Ferry, if they reopened the upper station, they would face questions over why they had to spend $600 million to rehab the lower station.

      The stories today are stressing the MTA’s point about the problems with upper SF’s capacity issues and its accessibility, so the agency is trying to remind people why the lower station was built in the first place. But once it was common knowledge among non-railfans that the upper station was still around and being used to loop trains post-Sandy, the negatives of trying to explain for 2-3 years why it couldn’t be reopened outweighed any possible consequences for the MTA of ending up with critics calling for the lower station to be abandoned (which, AFAIK, no one in power has made any serious noises about over the past four-plus months).

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      I don’t think it was “obvious” at all. To the contrary, this was something they desperately did not want to do. Once it became clear there was no quick fix at the new station, only then did it become apparent that they had to do this.

      • Jerrold says:

        When I said “obvious”, I was referring to what was going on at the loop station in recent weeks. Why would they bother to do ANY work at a decommissioned station, if they were not in the process of restoring it to service?

    • Nathanael says:

      Wait for the ADA accessbility lawsuits. NYC Subway has developed a nasty record of ignoring the ADA, so where you might expect people to cut it some slack…. they might not.

      • Eric says:

        I don’t think that makes a difference. No matter how good the MTA’s record, some ambulance chaser would come along to take advantage of the situation.

  2. Scott E says:

    By saying they need to rehab the fare-control area, does this mean the old fare-control area will be reopened? I’d think the connection to the new 1 mezzanine (which also serves Whitehall Street) would accomplish this.

    • Someone says:

      Well, the Staten Island Ferry entrance is currently closed. That entrance will be re-opened when the SF loop is re-opened. So, yes.

      • Jerrold says:

        Did they SAY that they will?
        I thought that they had built a temporary passage connecting the old station to the mezzanine level of the new station (currently in use for R train passengers).

        • Someone says:

          The entrance can’t be just via the R platform. There has to be a direct entrance fro the street to the 1 platform.

          • John-2 says:

            No, it’s off to the left of where you’d go if the lower SF station was open. Upper SF is (give or take a few inches) at the same level as the fare control mezzanine and the transfer passage between the 1 the R, that’s why all the MTA had to do to access the old station was bang a bigger opening in the front end of the platform.

            With the temporary station you’ll go down to the same fare control area as the R and 1, go through the turnstile, make one left and then (assuming the escalators and stairs to lower SF are going to be behind plywood), you’ll veer left again to the new entry to the old platform.

            Reopening the old entrance would be convenient for Ferry passengers, but it’s not necessary. And people will figure out pretty quickly if you’re in the front car of the downtown 1, it will be faster into the terminal from the new exit than it was to have to go up four levels from the lower station.

            • Nathanael says:

              Actually, looking at that route, that might be legal under the ADA. No *added* stairs, you see.

              • John-2 says:

                Possibly. You still have the gap filler issue, but anyone entering SF via the new opening will be doing so right at the T/O’s position and with all other passengers in the same area. So getting on should be workable. It will be downtown ADA passengers who’ll need to know if they’re going to use the 1, they need to not just be in the first five cars, but really in the first or second car to avoid problems.

                • Nathanael says:

                  I think it’s probably considered OK under the ADA, actually. Wheelchair access is at least possible.

                  Reopening the old staircases as the primary entrance would not have passed muster. I’m glad they came up with this.

  3. Matthew says:

    South Ferry isn’t the first station to be shuttered and re-opened. Dean Street on the Franklin Ave line was shuttered in the early twentieth century, then later re-opened after public pressure.

    Also, a copy-edit to the paragraph on the problems of the lop station. The problems _have not_ been resolved. The station still won’t be ADA compliant or be a full length platform.

    • Kai B says:

      I was thinking that too. However, the first closure happened before it was technically a part of the subway.

    • Someone says:

      And Dean Street was permanently removed in 1995, even though it had seen low ridership levels since the 1960s. SF has always had high ridership. Difference?

      The station has ADA compliance issues an ADA waiver, so it can flout the ADA regulations for now.

  4. Alex C says:

    What the previous comments have missed is a thanks to our Dear Leader in Albany for personally rehabbing the old South Ferry station himself. Amazing how Cuomo spits on transit but puts his face on every press release to take credit. Still, great to see some service being restored to South Ferry.

  5. Rob says:

    Weren’t they swearing that it couldn’t be done [reopening the old sta]? Or is my memory faulty?

    • No one ever said officially that it couldn’t be done. The MTA repeatedly said they had to assess conditions at both stations before determining a path of action. That’s what they did and found costs to be palatable.

  6. asar says:

    Yes!!!!!!!now when u go 2govenors island, u wont have to take the slow, faulty r train

  7. Jon A says:

    Is this going to affect the line capacity of the #1? I thought the old loop couldn’t turn around as many trains per hour as the new terminal.

    • It won’t impact capacity beyond what you’re seeing today right now on the 1 line. The trains have been using the loop to turn since after Sandy.

      • Matthias says:

        I’ve never understood the capacity argument. The 1 runs about every 5 minutes at best. It would seem to me that the loop should work just fine, especially since it requires no switching.

        • Someone says:

          a 1 train every 5 mins = 12 tph

          “New” terminal station = 26 tph

          Loop station capacity = 15 tph


        • Andrew says:

          The 1 runs 19 tph in the morning rush currently. It ran 19 tph when the new station was open. It ran 19 tph before the new station opened in 2009. It will continue to run 19 tph when the loop station reopens next month.

          • Someone says:

            And that’s a bit A LOT over capacity.

            • Andrew says:

              If it were over capacity, then it wouldn’t be able to run. In fact, it runs, every day.

              Your capacity numbers are wrong. The new terminal has a capacity of 24 tph. The old loop has a capacity a few tph less than that (22? 21?). But service has been running at 19 tph for years.

    • Berk32 says:

      While trains are currently using the loop – they don’t have to stop and wait for the platform extenders.

      During rush hour – this slows everything down and is a major bottleneck (as we see regularly at Union Sq on the 4/5/6)

  8. Someone says:

    Instead of having the first-5-car problem again, why not lengthen the platform at either end? There’s space for such a platform extension.

    • VLM says:

      How many times do we have to go over the same things here?

      Using the loop is temporary. Overhauling it to include longer platforms — which is likely physically impossible because of the fact that it is, you know, a loop — making the old station ADA-compliant and able to handle the crowds, and rebuilding the signal infrastructure anyway would be an insanely costly undertaking. Might as well rebuild the two-track terminal — which, despite your fantasy land, is what the MTA is going to do anyway.

      • Someone says:

        It’s not “my fantasy land”. I was just suggesting something. It doesn’t have to be realistic, you know.

        • VLM says:

          If you’re that interested in fantasy land, why not spew this crap on some foamer site instead? We’re talking about realistic goals, expenditures and policy decisions here with respect to a $600 million (of taxpayer money) rebuild.

          • Someone says:

            I said, I’m not interested in fantasy land. I might have had these types of stuff before when I was a kid in the 80’s and 90′,s but not anymore.

    • D.R. Graham says:

      Extending the platform would involve making very significant changes to the tunnel box itself. It would be very expensive and involve a very lengthy viability study. Even if it were to be done it would also involve more gap fillers, in turn more moving parts to be maintained.

  9. Subutay Musluoglu says:

    Ben – A question for you – We are all well aware that the new terminal had problems with higher than normal water infiltration even before Sandy. I understand that shoddy waterproofing and other contractor / quality control issues were to blame. Do you have any indication from NYCT if they intend to address these issues with a permanent fix during the rebuild? Is it possible that part of the the high repair cost accounts for such a fix?

    • All I’ve gotten out of the MTA is that they are aware of the problems the new terminal had and are plan to harden it as part of the repairs. I would imagine that would address waterproofing issues that existed beforehand, but I don’t believe how they’re going to do has been determined yet.

      • Subutay Musluoglu says:

        Thanks. I know they tried some measures before opening three years ago, such as injection grouting, which didn’t show much success. A more involved effort will certainly be a challenge. Short of excavating a trench around the entire station box and fixing the shell and redoing the entire waterproofing membrane once and for all (which I doubt they will attempt), it will be curious to see what they come up with.

    • Eric says:

      At $600 million, better to stick with the old station and use the money elsewhere. $600 million is a good chunk of the next stage of SAS…

  10. The Cobalt Devil says:

    South Ferry is probably one of the few (if not the only) stations built entirely inside landfill and surrounded by water on three sides (East River, Hudson River, NY Harbor). As we all know, water seeks its level, and the new station was below the old one. Glad they’re opening the old station so when i come back to visit the parents on Staten Island this summer i won’t have to schlep from Rector Street.

  11. Someone says:

    The station — the first ever to be shuttered and then reopened

    So…you don’t think Cortlandt St on the N/R trains was closed and then reopened? Twice, in fact.

    Cortlandt St on the 1 train is currently closed, but will reopen in 2014.

    Dean Street in Brooklyn was closed and then reopened, as some commenters mentioned above.

    • Jerrold says:

      I think they are talking about station closings that were intended at that time to be PERMANENT.

    • The Cobalt Devil says:

      It really isn’t hard to figure out the difference between a TEMPORARY closure for repairs or rebuild (Cortlandt St, Dean St) and a PERMANENT closure of a station that was replaced by an entirely different station nearby. When the new South Ferry terminal opened in 2009 nobody EVER thought they’d see the old South Ferry loop again. As a ex-Staten Islander who used both stations, I was more than happy to see the old, crowded, first-five-cars-only station go. If I lived on the Island now however, I’d be happy to see that loop again after schlepping from Rector Street for 5 months in the winter!

  12. Alek says:

    On the top of the reopening the old south ferry station don’t forget there might be many weekend GO’s on the 1 line to focus on the South Ferry station. The standard of the 1 running express from 42nd st to 14th st terminating there and the 2/3 trains taking over replaced by shuttle buses at Chambers

    • Jerrold says:

      But isn’t all of THAT work finished by now?

      • D.R. Graham says:

        When signal system repair work start taking place the whole area will need to be shut down and those same old service advisories will make a return.

        • Someone says:

          You mean, like a repeat of the 7 service on weekends?

          Oh no…

          • D.R. Graham says:

            You can say that but I meant more specifically like 1 service used to be when the new station was being built. Weekend after weekend of changes because the 1 could not access the loop. Less so because of breaking the new tunnel wall into the old but more so for signaling.

  13. JJJ says:

    What a delicious buffet of crow!

  14. A.L. says:

    I truly hope they shut down this purpose on ADA grounds. It is unacceptable to open (or re-open a closed facility) a station that is not fully accessible. If people on wheelchairs are denied use of the new (old) facility, it shouldn’t be opened at all.

    • Ro says:

      what a narrow-minded, selfish mentality.

    • shaywelch says:

      A.L. What is your point? There is no assesability at the Rector station so whatever is done will not be usefull to the wheelchair community. Reading through the comments it appears there will be acces to the platform from the old entrance so maybe that elevator will work.

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