Home 7 Line Extension You’ll never guess what’s delayed again. (Hint: It rhymes with ‘eleven fine’)

You’ll never guess what’s delayed again. (Hint: It rhymes with ‘eleven fine’)

by Benjamin Kabak

This ain’t his problem any longer. (Photo: Benjamin Kabak)

For a long time, I took to calling the 7 line extension the “Train to Nowhere.” It’s not that it would always be the train to nowhere, but when it was supposed to open in late 2013, it would be the train to not very much. The first major Hudson Yards building still isn’t set to open until later in 2015, and the entire complex won’t be completed until the mid-2020s if all goes according to plan. And then the delays struck.

During Monday’s MTA Board committee meetings and in materials made available over the weekend, the MTA announced yet again that the opening for the 7 line would be delayed. While they’re holding out hope that the one-stop extension to 34th St. and 11th Ave. will open in late February, an Independent Engineering Consultant expects the line to enter revenue service some time during the second quarter of the year, and MTA officials did not dispute this finding during the meetings on Monday. Thus, potentially 18 months after Mayor Bloomberg’s ceremonial ride, the 7 line might open.

A problem of course is that 10 Hudson Yards is inching toward completion. The Subway to Nowhere will soon morph into the Somewhere Without a Subway, and the cushion between the projected opening of the 7 line and the projected opening of the Hudson Yards office buildings is disappearing before our eyes. If the MTA can’t deliver this project on time, what hope do we have for the Second Ave. Subway, which is supposed to open two years from now?

To add insult to insult to injury, the problem remains technologies that aren’t exactly new. Yet again, the inclined elevators are behind schedule, and this time, the fire alarm testing has not gone as planned. While the MTA notes that “all parties are working together to bring the construction
completion as close as possible to the original agreed upon date,” with no contingencies remaining in the schedule, the IEC sees the second quarter as a more likely revenue service start date.

I’ve said what I’ve had to say about these seemingly never-ending delays. In ten years, we’ll forget about it, but it’s imperative for the MTA to use this experience as a learning point if they are to continue to grow our transit network. We’ve gone from a short delay to November to eventually in 2014 or maybe 2015 to February and now to the second quarter of next year. The MTA just can’t get this project across the finish line, and if that’s not a metaphor for the capital construction issues, I don’t know what is.

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Abba December 16, 2014 - 12:39 am

That’s crazy.Just open it already!

Quirk December 16, 2014 - 12:41 am

It will probably open in early 2016 at this point…

BrooklynBus December 16, 2014 - 10:23 am

Will it be finished before deBlasio is out of office?

Kevin Walsh December 16, 2014 - 1:08 am

Real world: Flushing Line Extension Christmas 2015; SAS late 2017; East Side Access 2025

Josh December 16, 2014 - 12:28 pm

SAS further downtown 21XX

Jerrold December 16, 2014 - 1:57 pm

You mean the same year that Bernie Madoff gets out of jail?

BrooklynBus December 17, 2014 - 9:24 am

Until they all get postponed again.

Scott E December 16, 2014 - 6:34 am

I find such irony in the fact that the things holding up the station’s opening are a set of elevators and a fire alarm; yet there are deep stations throughout the system with non-functional (or none at all) elevators and no fire alarm. I know it has to do with building codes and ADA and such, but if the station were to open and THEN these things were to break, I doubt the station would be closed as a result.

anon_coward December 16, 2014 - 9:29 am

most likely it’s that ventilator building at 11th ave and 26st that’s holding it up but its built by Skanska and not some small contractor.

Larry Littlefield December 16, 2014 - 7:21 am

“If the MTA can’t deliver this project on time, what hope do we have for the Second Ave. Subway, which is supposed to open two years from now?”

At least it will open. Let us not forget that the Second Avenue and Third Avenue Elevateds were torn down and the Second Avenue Subway was promised. Developers built a whole lot of buildings on the Upper East Side based on that promise, and the buildings and their residents pay a whole lot of taxes. And then have to crawl along on the bus or pack onto the Lex.

Thus developers were very slow to build new buildings on the Far West Side. Fearing that they’d pay taxes for a new subway station and not get the subway station.

Eric December 16, 2014 - 12:02 pm

“At least it will open.”

We hope. I wouldn’t believe anything the MTA says until I am actually riding a 7 train into 34th St Station. The elevator and fire alarm issues, plus who knows what other issues we don’t know about yet, could still hold up the project for another few decades. You think I’m joking, but the cost of SAS and the delays of ESA and the incompetence of South Ferry are not jokes as much as they sound like it.

Bolwerk December 16, 2014 - 12:20 pm

The 7 is simply too far along to not ever open. It was possible to operate a train on that segment in late 2013 apparently.

Eric December 17, 2014 - 5:20 am

Never underestimate the MTA.

Ryan December 16, 2014 - 7:33 am

Come now, Ben. I understand and I agree with the frustration over the perpetual delay, but surely you’re not going to seriously claim that 10 Hudson Yards is going to be “somewhere without a subway?” Entrances to the Penn Station megaplex on 8 Av are about three blocks away.

sonicboy678 December 16, 2014 - 10:59 pm

That’s a good half mile away, at best.

Jason December 16, 2014 - 8:06 am

Ryan, it is not just three blocks. It is three avenues away which are much, much longer than a street.

Nyland8 December 16, 2014 - 8:54 am

Seriously? It’s 3 blocks from the A,C,E, 4 blocks from the 1,2,3, 5 blocks from the B,D,F,M,N,R,Q, PATH AND the PABT! Really what amounts to no more than stumbling distance from the L.I.R.R, NJTransit and Amtrak. And that’s to say nothing of the availability of cross-town buses, taxis, it’s own cross-Hudson ferry, immediate access to the West Side Highway, and it’s own damned heliport! Compared to most of this city, it’s practically TRANSPORTATION CENTRAL!

Should we offer the residents coolies to pull rickshaws right from the elevators?

Forgive me if I’m less than sympathetic to the impending plight of moving in before the 7 Line station is opened.

John-2 December 16, 2014 - 9:27 am

Three avenues on the west side equals about 7-8 blocks in streets north-south so it’s a little over average for most walks to stations in the business areas of Manhattan. The main problem with 34th is more that the A/C/E is already handling Penn Station traffic there, and the platform exchange — with people getting on the trains from the LIRR/NJT to go downtown or to Midtown East Side, and those getting off the trains to go to Hudson Yards — would be a mess without the 7 extension in place (though obviously, one new building at Hudson Yards isn’t going to make that much of a difference. But if it’s delayed to the point there are several new buildings opening, then it starts stressing the Penn Station platform).

Roxie December 16, 2014 - 7:05 pm

Uh. Have you ever actually *been* out there? It’s three–scratch that; including Dyer St., FOUR blocks, and very long ones, even by the standards of most of the city. Also, from the Yards/Javits, it’s uphill to all forms of transit, except maybe the M11 along 10th Ave. And due to its proximity to the Lincoln Tunnel, the traffic between Penn and that area is often snarled with cars, severely limiting the usefulness of the M34 SBS. Not to mention in claiming it’s a simple stone’s throw away from the station, you’re assuming nobody who will end up working out in that area needs to use a cane or walker or other such thing. The 7 line extension opening before the business areas is a necessity; nobody wants to go on a damn hike after work, and a first impression is a hard thing to shake. If the CEOs and hiring managers see a transit-less wasteland, that’ll be the impression they keep in mind every time they think of those office buildings out in the Yards.

Ryan December 16, 2014 - 7:47 pm

I don’t know what you mean by uphill.

I went out of my way to walk around midtown today, and it was all flat in both directions.

Incidentally, it took me six minutes to walk from the Penn Station exit at 33/8 to 33 and 10, which is about where this new building should end up being. It was another three minutes to circle around and hit the actual corner of 34 and 11.

I think I legitimately spent more time wandering around Penn trying to figure out which exit was the best one for a hypothetical morning walk to the Yards than I did on actually walking to the point where I expect the door to be.

Frankly speaking, 99% of the country would kill to be in the kind of “transit-less wasteland” that Hudson Yards is today, 7 extension be damned. Calling it somewhere without a subway isn’t just wrong, it’s hilariously wrong.

Bolwerk December 16, 2014 - 9:26 pm

The walk from 11th Avenue to 8th Avenue is a half mile. It’s well and good to say that’s an acceptable walk to rail transit, I guess, but you can’t pretend the demand for living under such conditions is the same as the demand for living where there is a rail downstairs from your unit. And the 34th Street SBS doesn’t close to replace it.

Quirk December 16, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Its nothing new to tenants from Silver Towers or those near 11/12th ave. on 42nd street.

Bolwerk December 17, 2014 - 8:59 am

It’s nothing new to many people. But to say it doesn’t impact how people use and perceive transit is, ahem, hilariously wrong. Or at least just wrong.

Phantom December 17, 2014 - 12:25 am

I walk 0.6 miles r/t each day from the Cortlandt St R station to the Seaport every day and this is the first time I’ve had to consider that some would regard it too far to walk. For the huge majority of people, this distance walk is very doable, even desirable, when the work day is otherwise sedentary.

Eric December 17, 2014 - 5:18 am


But I expect that most Hudson Yards residents will be interested in getting to the East Midtown area, which is currently a pain, a ~2 mile walk or a 0.6 mile walk plus the E train. The 7 extension will make this significantly easier.

Of course, such a project is not worth spending $2 billion on.

Nyland8 December 17, 2014 - 6:28 am

Eric … “But I expect that most Hudson Yards residents will be interested in getting to the East Midtown area,… ”

What on earth would you base that suspicion on?

Bolwerk December 17, 2014 - 9:06 am

East Midtown (I think uptown of 42nd) is where the highest density of jobs is. I would guess a lot of social amenities are there too, or at least near enough as to make little difference.

Eric December 17, 2014 - 1:11 pm


Nyland8 December 17, 2014 - 6:08 am

Have I ever been out there ?? My office used to be at 37th & 7th. When the weather was nice, I used to walk over to the High Line during lunch – 6 or 7 minutes. It was nothing. If I felt like using my whole hour, I’d stroll down to 14th Street, and then back up to work.

Nyland8 December 17, 2014 - 6:26 am

My midtown office has an engineer who commutes by bus into PABT and walks much more than half-a-mile from there. We have not one, but 2 architects who both come into GCT, and both walk well over half-a-mile to work from there, and hoof it back every night. They could take a subway, but they claim it isn’t worth adding another $1,200-per-year to their already substantial commuting fees, and by the time they wait for subway to arrive, they would already be at GCT.

People pile into and out of NYPenn, GCT and the PABT by the tens-of-millions every single year, and walk much more than .6 of-a-mile before they get to work. And that’s only in Manhattan. Ask the people in the outer boroughs who walk .7,.8,.9 of a mile, or more, if the subway is too far for them to use. They’d laugh in your faces.

The Hudson Yards have always been very close to mass-transit. The 7 Line will just be icing on the cake.

lop December 16, 2014 - 7:47 pm

two thousand feet? it’s not that far

sonicboy678 December 18, 2014 - 7:20 pm

This is a highly subjective statement. For some people, it certainly is too far.

Phantom December 19, 2014 - 12:35 pm

For some people, one block is too far.

But for the vast majority of New Yorkers, a half mile is no big deal.

The problem isn’t that most of us walk too much, the problem is that we walk too little.

The delay in construction is a budget/engineering competence problem, but not really more than that.

Bolwerk December 19, 2014 - 7:30 pm

No big deal for what? A half mile is a lot of distance to drag groceries or something. It’s not a very big deal for a commute to work.

I don’t see why so many people are trivializing this: distance will impact use.

adirondacker12800 December 19, 2014 - 8:01 pm

How many people have no alternative to using the subway to go grocery shopping?

Bolwerk December 20, 2014 - 9:27 am

Who cares? Use any example you want: students with backpacks, corporate suits with drycleaning, whatever. People aren’t going to use the subway for a given trip unless it’s convenient. It doesn’t mean having no conceivable alternatives, though they might not be good alternatives.

We want to attract use to our 10-figure stubway, don’t we?

sonicboy678 December 20, 2014 - 2:59 pm

The above distance is about three long blocks, not one.

D in Bushwick December 17, 2014 - 3:22 pm

London’s new Crossrail project is on time and on budget. They started tunneling in 2009 and the first station will open in 2018. It will have 26 miles of tunnels under central London.
But as we all know here, NYC is special.


Alon Levy December 19, 2014 - 10:20 am

It’s not actually on time: they delayed it by a year in order to keep the budget down.

Guest December 19, 2014 - 3:29 pm

26 miles. Isn’t that equivalent to the Manhattan SAS segment+Bronx and Brooklyn extensions? In 9-10 years…

Ron Aryel December 20, 2014 - 9:43 am

You can call it a Train to Nowhere, but that does not make it so. The 7 extension was never a train to nowhere. The Javits Convention Center was and is part of its destination, and providing the US’ single busiest convention center with rail service has always been justified. Not only that, but the rows of apartments and condos along 10th Avenue have existed for a number of years. The neighborhood you speak of has not been desolate for at least a decade. Had the Hudson Yards station opened in 2004 the trains would have been fulkl of people.

Nyland8 December 20, 2014 - 10:00 am

Has anyone looked at the earliest pictures of the 7 Line out in Queens? It started out as a Train to Nowhere. In principle, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a train to nowhere, if the intention is to make that nowhere somewhere.

When your population density is high, and when your development is already congested, I’m all for building trains to nowhere. It’s a much better alternative to building more and wider roads to the same place.


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