In a few days — some indeterminate time next week — the MTA will recommission an old station when the 1 train’s old South Ferry loop station reopens. With a new connection to the R train at Whitehall and some restored mosaic work, the reopened southern terminal will be just good enough, if far from perfect.
Late yesterday, the agency posted a series of photos ahead of next week’s reopening. There is still no set date for the first train to service South Ferry, but it’s going to arrive as April does. Staten Island Ferry customers will rejoice, but the station will come with warts and all. It’s still just a five-car loop; it still isn’t ADA-compliant; it still features narrow platforms and few egress points. Yet, a subway station is a subway station is a subway station, and with the new South Ferry terminal years away from restoration, reactivating the loop is a welcome move.
So what exactly goes into restoring a subway station not in service for nearly four years? From the mundane to the intricate, the MTA offered up a checklist. Cleaning, of course, is top on the list as is painting and installing new signage, electricity, better lighting and a PA system. The MTA had to refurbish the gap fillers, repair wall tiles, build a new staircase and entryway, repair some escalators and reinstate fare control and the station entrance. It’s quite the laundry list of tasks, and it all happened within five months of Sandy.
So as I ponder these photos and the station virtually on the eve of its reopening, I have to wonder why everything else in the subway system seems to take so long. With right pressure from Board members and politicians, the MTA reconstructed South Ferry in a few months. Everything else seems to take forever.