Coming Attractions: South Ferry in 2016; 7 extension (sort of) on Friday

By · Published in 2013

Two quick hits on some outstanding items right now with more to come: The MTA confirmed today that the new South Ferry station, totaled by Sandy’s floodwaters in October of 2012, will reopen at some point in 2016. The project is still expected to cost around $600 million — or the same as it cost to build the station from scratch — and it will include significant remediation work. MTA Board materials contain more details on the remediation that I’ll cover tonight, and Matt Flegenheimer confirmed the 2016 date during the Board’s Capital Program Oversight Committee meeting today.

In more current news, the 7 line extension is sort of set to open this week. While the station at 34th St. and 11th Ave. isn’t set to enter revenue service until June of 2014, with the primary funding partner on the way out of office at the end of the month, the MTA and Mayor Bloomberg will host a ceremonial ribbon cutting this Friday afternoon. We haven’t seen many images from inside the station cavern lately, but clearly, crews have made enough progress to conduct a limited run of a subway train set for dignitaries. I’m hoping to snag a seat on the ride and will, of course, have plenty of photos if I do. Stayed tuned for more on that front too.

27 Responses to “Coming Attractions: South Ferry in 2016; 7 extension (sort of) on Friday”

  1. BruceM says:

    So $1.2Billion to build, and then rebuild ONE station–and won’t be ready for another two years? For God’s sake, stop the madness! The old station may be flawed and not the most optimal operationally–but it worked well enough for nearly 100 years. Can we just cut our losses and apply the money to Phase 2?

    • D. Graham says:

      No and for several reasons. First being the fact that those gap fillers are extremely outdated. No one makes them anymore and maintaining them is increasing in cost not only for functionality but also in terms of reliability and service disruptions. Gap filler related disruptions are increasing. Service is consistently delayed at Rector St to move people from the back of the train to the front. Heading back north service is delayed because those first five cars fill up fast during rush hours. At Rector Street unknowingly people wait at the front of the platform for the train and are unable to board because of SF crowding. All of this reduces service reliability which costs money in the long run and keeps service levels down on the 1 line.

      Now I mentioned the demand side of things I didn’t even go into the safety side. Your comment is very reminiscent of how the agency functions. Do nothing because of cost until something catastrophic happens. The gap fillers at Union Square have an emergency release function in the event someone is wedge between the fillers while extended and the train. The fillers at SF do not. Implementation of such is unlikely without finding a way to rebuild the entire filler system which would be very pricey. The cost of such a thing would likely extend into the hundreds of millions.

    • Jerrold says:

      [My intention was to put this Comment HERE, as a reply to Bruce.]

      The trouble with that is that a station which can accommodate only HALF of each train is NOT most people’s idea of something that works “well enough”.

    • D. Graham says:

      There’s one more thing I did forget to mention.

      Who cares if it cost $1.2 billion to build and rebuild? The feds paid for it the first time and they’re footing the bill again. I understand that money could go into Phase II but why argue. The feds are going to spend the dollar amount they intend to send on it and what they dished out for hurricane relief will have no effect. Just like 9/11 had no effect on hurricane relief money. It’s the feds, they spend it because they can. No it doesn’t make it right but our votes haven’t changed anything so until it does let it rain.

      • Spendmor Wastemor says:

        Freeee! It’s Freeee moneeee!

        “Who cares if it cost $1.2 billion to build and rebuild? The feds paid for it the first time and they’re footing the bill again.”

        “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

        • Bolwerk says:

          Eh, he’s right. We either get it for South Ferry or someone else snags it in the appropriations process and we don’t get it.

          The systemic issue of high construction costs should be addressed, but is beside the point here.

    • Chet says:

      Yes, the money is outrageous, but the old station did not work well enough for many years. It is far, far too small; has just two stair cases; gets incredibly crowded, etc.

      It should have been replaced decades ago.

  2. Beebo says:

    That’s just brutal, Ben. What the hell is that kind of money going to?!? For that, install an elevator shaft and just keep the old station.

  3. D. Graham says:

    Of course Bloomberg has to have his photo op ready or not!!! Wow I’m not surprised.

  4. Jerrold says:

    The trouble with that is that a station which can accommodate only HALF of each train is NOT most people’s idea of something that works “well enough”.

  5. Spendmor Wastemor says:

    Option 3:

    Save $1.2 Billion and officially end the line one station earlier. Complaints may be registered at the Rector St R station.
    Unofficially, you can still exit and board at the old SF, as the trains would be turned there.

    btw, the gap fillers and are dirt simple 19th century items which could be fully rebuilt by George Westinghouse and a blacksmith.

    • Chris C says:

      There is NO saving of $1.2bn because $600m of that was already spent on the ‘original’ new station.

      Now if you didn’t restore the ‘new’ station then you could possibly ‘save’ $600m but you would still need to spend a chunk of that to properly close it down to make it safe and well as flood tight to prevent any possible spread into the system if there is an other storm surge a la Sandy.

    • Eric Brasure says:

      George Westinghouse has been dead for a hundred years.

  6. lawhawk says:

    Old South Ferry limited capacity on the entire line – the new station for all of its flaws was able to move more people across the entire line. More trains could move through the station, meaning more people could use the same line.

    That’s not an insubstantial improvement.

    The problem is still all about the cost – both the initial/original cost and the cost to rebuild.

    It shouldn’t cost $600 to rebuild the station. In fact, the original cost estimates were less than half what the final tally was.

    Why should it cost the same to build out the space anew when significant cost was tied up in excavating and underpinning the station cavern while keeping the old station functional during construction. They aren’t going to have to do all that work again. So what’s the source of the costs (which the MTA has yet to truly spell out). We know what they say has to be replaced – all the electrical and signal systems, plus new waterproofing (a problem from day one with the new station), and flood protection (which should have been incorporated initially due to proximity to the waterfront and elevation).

    • Walt Gekko says:

      What I would have done was go with the original plan, that being extending the loop station to accommodate 10 cars. That to me would be a better option at this point, especially given what happened with Sandy.

      • D. Graham says:

        More gap fillers. 15 more potential failures causing headaches in services.

        • BruceNY says:

          Not necessarily–the loop straightens out
          pretty quickly–could not the platform be extended along the portion that’s more straight?
          And regardless of how antiquated they are–we’re always going to have them at Union Sq. & Times Sq.–when the cost of maintaining them exceeds $600M, then let’s talk about eliminating them.

          • D. Graham says:

            Union Square was completely overhauled several years back to the tune of a price tag that might be half of fixing the SF terminal. If the loop was going to be a long term solution then overhauling the current fillers would need to be on the table as the current set up is a band aid solution. The price tag to do so probably wouldn’t stretch far from the $600 million mark. Why? Because it’s a signal based system and fixed signals are expensive. They are not manually operated as some think and the ones at SF do not have a manual override as the fillers at Union Square do. What need is there for a manual override. Well some drunk guy fell between the platform and train at Union Square years back and sued for pain and suffering because the fillers could not be manually retracted in a timely fashion. Now they can. SF does not have such a feature.

    • Anon256 says:

      Peak hour service on the 1 train was 19tph via the loop before 2009, 19tph via the new station 2009-2012, and now 19tph via the loop again. The new station may have increased theoretical capacity but the marginal capacity was not used by more trains.

      • D. Graham says:

        The point being service will increase next year for several lines. Guess which one is not on the list.

        • BruceNY says:

          I can think of several lines that should probably get increases before the #1. 19tph is but a fantasy for most straphangers!

          • D. Graham says:

            Then I guess you don’t ride the 1 when school lets out and well into rush hour. At that point the 1 has a very difficult time meeting demand. As a result in causes a heavy increase in delays. Trains getting to the north terminal late is now a delay in southbound service.

  7. Quirk says:

    Thank you Bloomberg for completing this extension as originally planned — 2 stations + on time and on budget.

    • BoerumHillScott says:

      Bloomberg’s issue is that he let the MTA build it, with the city just writing the check.

      I think Dulles Silver Line method would have been better, with the city managing the construction and handing it over to the MTA when all was done.

      • D. Graham says:

        Maybe a wrong choice of words? The MTA does not build subway stations. They hire contractors to do so. There are a limited number of contractors in the business of building subway stations. Even if the city was to hire a contractor they would have hired the same contractors based on availability.

        • BoerumHillScott says:

          That has always been the case for the vast majority of capital projects, but in my mind the primary responsibility rests with the agency overseeing the project.

          The city has a better record than the MTA of controlling timelines, budget, and scope on capital projects, and I think that this one would have been better off if the city managed the project instead of the MTA.

  8. solgoldberg says:


    Mayor Bloomberg gets his ceremonial #7 ride & hopefully we get photos before the ~June 2014 opening date.

    The cost is NYC high, BUT.

    It seems to me that there was a lot of coordination with the Hudson Yards Development Corp (responsible for Hudson Blvd/Park)
    AND the various overbuild developers
    AND the Javits fix-up people
    AND Amtrak (the empire connection wraps around the sites at 33-34th & 34-35th and through the 35th-36th site, before Amtrak goes to a “simple” trench.


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