Home 7 Line Extension MTA now eying Q3 for 7 line extension opening

MTA now eying Q3 for 7 line extension opening

by Benjamin Kabak
The stairs and the platforms are ready, but the rest of the 7 line station at 34th St. and 11th Ave. isn't. (Via MTA)

The stairs and the platforms are ready, but the rest of the 7 line station at 34th St. and 11th Ave. isn’t. (Via MTA)

At this point in our saga, the monthly release of the MTA Board books presents another opportunity to find out that the 7 line extension opening has been delayed. In March, the Board saw a fancy presentation with photos from the completed but unopened station while MTA Capital Construction officials noted that opening may not be until the start of the third quarter. In this month’s Transit committee meetings, we learn that the project is now officially delayed until the third quarter of 2015. The MTA hasn’t said if July 1 or September 30 will be the opening, but they expect the great unveiling to be some time in that time period.

This month’s materials don’t go into the same detail as previous updates. After all, the MTA’s Capital Program Oversight Committee has a variety of projects that require oversight, and they can’t all be as comically delayed as the 7 line extension. But we know that the vent fans, some alarm systems, escalators and inclined elevators have been at the root of the delay. Some of these are systems the MTA opted not to purchase off the shelf due to a combination of low bid requirements, Made in America obligations and sheer stubbornness.

Meanwhile, the one-stop extension — without, of course, the station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. that would have dramatically improved this project’s overall value — will now open more than 16 months before outgoing Mayor Bloomberg basically forced the MTA to conduct a ceremonial ride as part of his valedictory lap around the city. Because the area is still under development and considered Manhattan’s final frontier, few residents are up in arms over the delay. The project simply wasn’t disruptive to a densely-populated area.

The Second Ave. Subway, the MTA says, is still scheduled to open in December of 2016, but if similar delays happen on the Upper East Side — and remember, the feds have never revised their own estimate of an early 2018 opening for Phase 1 of the Second Ave. Subway — a powerful and vocal group of Manhattanites will not go quietly into the night. The 7 line opening date is a farce; the Second Ave. Subway could be much, much worse.

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60 comments

vanshnookenraggen April 27, 2015 - 1:20 am

If you look at the history of the city built subway lines this type of thing is normal. The IND 8th Ave line ran way over budget and by the time it opened there wasn’t even a formal celebration. The IND Concourse Line was delayed because they didn’t have enough money to buy turn styles (!!!). It’s also not a big deal since the neighborhood this was built to serve is only now being developed. In fact once this opens you know there are going to be articles in the Post or wherever about how the new station is dead because none of the new buildings are open yet. Writing about this seems like just another reason to complain (not that there isn’t much that is worthy of complaining about).

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Quirk April 27, 2015 - 1:51 am

His point is that the same could happen with the 2nd. av subway. A December 2016 opening? Not holding my breath

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APH April 27, 2015 - 7:59 am

It is absolutely worth it to make note and complain (how is it complaining to make this observation on a blog about NYC mass transit anyway?) – because we all know the MTA and our gutless political leaders will not. They can trip over each other fighting for camera space on the day of the ribbon cutting, but here we have a project that was supposed to be completed December 2013 (and it was supposed to have another station as well).

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tacony April 27, 2015 - 12:26 pm

once this opens you know there are going to be articles in the Post or wherever about how the new station is dead because none of the new buildings are open yet

Thousands of people arrive and depart the immediate station area on Megabus and Boltbus every day, and those are exactly the kind of budget-minded travelers who would schlep their bags onto the train if it were open instead of hailing a cab (and there’s a steady stream of people toting luggage walking between Penn Station and 11th Ave). It’s not enough to cause any significant crowding, but I don’t think the station will be as empty as you may think.

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adirondacker12800 April 27, 2015 - 1:37 pm

They don’t count because they have Tracphones instead of iThingies.

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Eric F April 27, 2015 - 2:05 pm

It’ll be used extensively by people attending events at Javits, I would think. I would also think the ferry crowd will be using it as well. Add to that the burgeoning neighborhood around there and I imagine it’ll get a fair amount of use right from the start.

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Chaz Antonelli April 28, 2015 - 7:10 pm

I have long awaited this, as a GAY LEATHERMAN, this will be my new ride to The NYC Eagle, the last real gay leather bar in New York City.

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BruceNY May 2, 2015 - 1:40 pm

For how much longer? Have seen what’s being built on that block?

Nyland8 April 27, 2015 - 6:13 pm

I suspect the High Line traffic alone could keep this station busy – at least seasonally. It is right at the northern end of the park.

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Nyland8 April 27, 2015 - 6:44 am

Inclined elevators. So basically the opening would seem to be pushed back due to ADA requirements. Do inclined elevators get more people into and out of the Javits Center quicker than conventional elevators? Or is it just that there really wasn’t any better way out of that hole?

I’ve been down there, and it isn’t so deep one couldn’t take the stairs. At that elevation, why would it require ventilation? Wouldn’t simple street grates suffice?

My point – and I’m not sure I even have one – is that most of the public could probably be taking that train tomorrow, if they just opened up the stairs and turnstiles. I saw pictures of the ceremonial Bloomberg excursion well over a year ago, and nobody seemed to be suffocating down there.

It’s interesting that instead of providing an opening date, they only give us an opening quarter. Do they at least have a date when they can announce an opening date? Or is that too much to ask?

Isn’t it funny how anxious I am for a first ride to a station I might only use a dozen times a year? Now with the High Line in full swing/spring, it would be a nice midday lunch diversion.

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Brandon April 27, 2015 - 7:35 am

So when do we break ground on Utica? *facepalm*

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Subutay Musluoglu April 27, 2015 - 8:06 am

The inclined elevators were actually meant to save money – the intent was that the inclined elevators would share space with the escalator shafts, thereby negating the need to excavate separate and costly vertical shafts for the elevators.

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Anonymous May 22, 2015 - 5:14 am

Yup.

Still no excuse for them to not have it working. It’s not really high tech (look up the word ‘funicular’)

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BoerumHillScott April 27, 2015 - 8:25 am

My understanding is that modern fire safety standards require active ventilation for all underground stations and tunnels, no matter how shallow.

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Spendmor Wastemor April 27, 2015 - 3:32 pm

And in places other than the nation’s capital of Progressive government, the vent fans may be required to work.

Whether to use said fans to blow smoke away or towards people trapped in a train is at the discretion of the transit agency.

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pete April 28, 2015 - 10:33 am

+1

That is why “self evacuate” must be a requirement. LIRR and MNR must have emergency escape windows, but R46s and R68 are crematory ovens. No emergency windows, no unlocked end doors. WMATA end doors are always unlocked.

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Tower18 April 29, 2015 - 6:43 pm

I thought I’ve read somewhere that the 75 foot car end doors are capable of being remotely unlocked.

However, if this still requires explicit and separate action by the train crew, your point is still valid. The doors should unlock whenever the conductor’s key is removed, if you ask me.

Powder April 28, 2015 - 3:13 pm

I worked down there from the beginning and it is about 200ft. to the platform. Above the platform there will be another section like at Times Square with stores and local vendors. Where the entrances are and where the subway platform begins, there isn’t room for a vertical elevator.
It needs ventilation because it is the end of the line, there is no portal, when Bloomberg made his trip, the rails weren’t even completed, therefore the subways weren’t running.
I’ve worked in subways for the past 10 years and can tell you without ventilation, it is murder, the steel dust, humidity, homeless smells,blah blah blah. Every subway needs ventilation.

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Rich M April 28, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Not so deep? It’s at least 70′ – 80′ down to the mezzanine.

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lawhawk April 27, 2015 - 8:05 am

I get that delays are part and parcel of subway expansion and that historically the NYC subway system build-out featured expansions that were chock full of delayed openings.

The problem is that we’re getting delays and not much bang for the buck for what we’ve paid/spent. Could some of these delays have been mitigated by adjusting MTA purchasing rules to mandate off the shelf solutions that trump build in USA requirements? Yes, but that would piss off certain groups, while taxpayers shoulder the burden of delays and costs.

Capital construction needs reformation and it needs to be done to maximize its purchasing power. $1 billion clearly doesn’t get what we should be getting (as compared to European cities that have similar underground features (archaeological, utilities, etc.) and have strong union employment positions but whose construction costs are a fraction of NYC. I’ve seen it reported frequently that many of the European construction firms see NYC as a profit center to make up for what they’re unable to charge in Europe. If that’s indeed the case, then the NYC MTA must adjust its strategy to bring it in line with European construction costs.

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al April 27, 2015 - 7:04 pm

“I’ve seen it reported frequently that many of the European construction firms see NYC as a profit center to make up for what they’re unable to charge in Europe.”

Another thing to consider is the budget austerity in parts of Europe. The strategy might had been to get the fat margins here to offset the dearth of projects there.

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Rich M April 28, 2015 - 10:18 pm

The design consultants get a hold of these projects and they drive the design. These consultants are answerable on a daily basis to a largely unexperienced engineering staff, most of whom were hired right out of college, have no interest in transportation and went into engineering for no other reason other than they “were good at math”. The net result is the staff doesn’t know enough to question anything from coming from these consultants who are more interested in creating designs of gigantic proportions to show off their engineering prowess. The staff seems to be oblivious to the absurdity of building subway infrastructure of such huge scale and technical complexity when the system these extensions connect to are of simple design and are generally proportionally sized to demand. The maintenance load of these new facilities in relation to the maintenance of the rest of the system, which in comparison to the new construction is nothing more than a sewere with trains, is enormous.

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Pete in the Heights April 27, 2015 - 9:54 am

You know, i read these posts, and I begin to feel the pull of entropy. The Universe really is spinning out of control, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. New York could solve its economic woes in a heartbeat if the leadership took on this cr*p – like the vast cost overruns, the kowtowing to tiny interest groups. A LaGuardia extension. You could build it for a few hundred mill at most. Just buy out the rest of 31st Street or whatever it is, and go. In 24 months we’ll be taking the train to the plane and increased traffic at LaG will pay for the extension. The Convention Center? Sell it. And make adding the 7 tunnel to NJ part of the deal for the private developer.

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Eric April 27, 2015 - 7:24 pm

It’s not the universe, it’s just the US. In large part because the US, unlike any other major democracy, has a winner-take-all rather than a parliamentary system. This means that only two parties can realistically exist and they each find it easier to attack the other than to accomplish anything themselves. It also means that there have to be major brakes on the government, like the filibuster, to keep the country from being overturned when power switches hands every four years – but these brakes are so strong that they prevent change even when their is a broad consensus in society that it’s needed.

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Nathanael April 28, 2015 - 1:42 am

It’s time to establish a parliamentary system. We could do this at the state and local level relatively easily. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t even seem to understand the *problem*.

Also, single-chamber legislature.

Also, proportional representation.

Also, approval voting for offices like Mayor or Attorney General.

In each case, people don’t seem to even perceive why our current election system sucks.

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Moshe Feder April 28, 2015 - 8:55 am

I’ve wondered for ages why (all but one of the) states have bicameral legislatures and why the Federal-style executive/legislative/judicial tripartite structure is the default and a parliamentary and multi-party alternative never considered.

I would love to see NY State replace the governor with a prime minister and have the state minister of transport be subject to regular parliamentary questions.

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Eric F April 27, 2015 - 10:10 am

“if similar delays happen on the Upper East Side . . . a powerful and vocal group of Manhattanites will not go quietly into the night.”

What are they going to do, go down to the tunnel and finish the job themselves? If experience is any guide, the second avenue line could fall into the realm of performance art where the project just becomes a permanent addition to the landscape, never to be finished. And there’s nothing that private citizens can do about it. I really hope thing thing opens per the latest schedule. Note that New Yorkers have been watching the P.A. build the world trade center station for something like 12 years now, with essentially no end in sight.

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Village Idiot April 27, 2015 - 11:07 am

So is there any chance the 41st Street stop ever gets built? Say, 100 years from now politicians decide that after a decade of promises, it’s finally time to build what couldn’t get done before (i.e. Second Ave), or does the currently constructed project not leave that capacity?

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Jon Y April 27, 2015 - 11:21 am

According to Ben, “…the provisioning exists for the MTA to construct two side platforms at [41st & 10th] when the money and the will to build materialize…”

http://bkabak.wpengine.com/201.....d-41st-st/

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Eric April 28, 2015 - 9:32 am

At a cost of at least $450 million.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1.....ng_Line%29

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Miles Bader May 9, 2015 - 1:31 am

soooo… in the future, once the MTA’s screwed up bidding and construction issues are sorted out, it should cost about $50…. ><

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Brooklynite April 27, 2015 - 11:07 am

Does MTA even have construction management? This is pathetic. “The smoke alarms aren’t ready yet” is not an explanation. Why are smoke alarms such a complex issue that they weren’t able to predict when they would be finished? The inclined elevators, I understand a bit, some genius decided that buttons had to be made in America. Still not a reason for the project to be delayed for years, but there’s something. Smoke alarms… not the most difficult thing in the world. What’s up?

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Jeff April 27, 2015 - 1:06 pm

Fire alarm systems can get rather complicated because they need to tie in to other MEP systems (power, smoke ventilation, sprinklers, etc), so depends on all of those different systems all working together nicely, which typically doesn’t happen because of the amount of things can go wrong with all of these systems.

So its not unusual for fire alarm to be holding up completion of a project. It’s also a life safety system so you cannot open up a modern facility without it fully tested and commissioned.

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LLQBTT April 27, 2015 - 11:59 am

Why should the MTA be permitted to build any new subway projects, say after SAS Phase II since that’s sorta kinda already in the queue? Haven’t they proven enough times and wasted $ that they can’t do it?

Let someone else take responsibility.

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VLM April 27, 2015 - 12:18 pm

So your solution to MTA construction issues is to penalize everyone in New York who badly needs expanded transit? Who’s building this stuff instead? It’s fine rattle your saber at the MTA over their obvious incompetence, but withholding money for projects is far more of a burden on commuters and a detriment to NYC’s future than a punishment of agency employees.

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Brooklynite April 27, 2015 - 12:41 pm

Maybe get a private contractor to do the whole thing? Put out an RFP for a GMAX contract (Guaranteed Maximum… google it) and see who responds.

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Jeff April 27, 2015 - 1:15 pm

Probably nobody.

Even for lump sum contracts there’s usually only one or two responses to them. You think changing them to GMP contracts would solve things?

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LLQBTT April 27, 2015 - 2:19 pm

I think you’ve got it backwards. Right now, we’re all being penalized. MTA consistently runs way over budget, runs way over schedule, inconveniences local residents for far longer than promised, puts small businesses out of business from the delays and inconveniences passengers for the prolonged period of non-completion (i.e. delay in providing relief to the Lex line).

MTA should no longer be responsible for future builds, and they’ve shown time and again why. Their actions are negligent (at least).

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VLM April 27, 2015 - 2:34 pm

We might be arguing two sides of the same coin, but again, my question is “who is going to build this otherwise?” The same contractors will bid on the projects whether it’s the MTA, NYC, some EDC subsidiary or a different oversight group pushing the funding. I think that’s not a particularly rigorous solution.

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Eric April 27, 2015 - 7:26 pm

Fire all the current overseers, who clearly aren’t doing any overseeing, and replace them with competent ones. It’s not so hard.

Bx13Guy April 27, 2015 - 12:20 pm

Maybe the 7 extension and the SAS will open on the same day. If they open in any of our lifetimes, maybe. I’m just saying.

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JEG April 27, 2015 - 2:39 pm

With an official completion date scheduled for 20 months from now, it is hard to imagine that the Second Ave. subway, with three new stations and work in a fourth can be completed in that time. To be sure, a prodigious amount of work has been completed as recently released photos attest. Today, around 72nd Street one can see street level work, which will soon be followed at 69th Street, while at 86th Street one can look down the future entrances. But as the issues surrounding the 7 line extension show, it can be relatively small aspects of subway construction that can cause substantial delays. There cannot be much doubt that something, even something seemingly trivial as elevators, will preclude an on time revenue date for this project.

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Tim April 27, 2015 - 4:18 pm

Despite all the issues, the presence of the above ground construction for entrances and ancillary structures is a pretty positive sight.

The building at 96th is coming along nicely.

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George April 27, 2015 - 2:44 pm

Benjamin will live a long life and die a cranky old man – all of this before the 7 train extension opens LOL

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Rob April 27, 2015 - 3:59 pm

‘systems the MTA opted not to purchase off the shelf due to a combination of low bid requirements…’ – I would have thunk that off the shelf would be the cheaper alternative.

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Chris C April 27, 2015 - 5:37 pm

you need to include the remainder of the sentence ” … Made in America obligations and sheer stubbornness.”

The inclined lifts are essentially off the shelf technology (even if they are bespoke built to fit the space) but it was ‘made in America’ requirement – something about the size of the lift buttons and needing some parts to be USA made – that increased the costs and complexity.

The problems with the lifts is not the lifts themselves but the changes demanded to them.

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JJJ April 27, 2015 - 6:11 pm

These port authority people are pretty amazing.

Newark airport monorail targeted for scrap heap, cost $354M to build
The 19-year-old AirTrain monorail system at Newark Liberty International Airport is being targeted for replacement.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has not publicly estimated the cost of a new system, or said when it expected the project to begin or end. But Port Authority commissioners are scheduled to vote Thursday to authorize spending $40 million on planning consultants for the project, plus another $30 million on technical experts.

“Although substantial investment has been made to maintain current operations, such investment has not extended the 25-year design life of the system, nor has it expanded capacity,” states the planning resolution proposed for adoption Thursday.
http://www.nj.com/news/index.s.....cart_river

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Eric April 27, 2015 - 7:31 pm

This reminds me of how in Africa after independence from France and Britain, there was no effective government so the roads and railways decayed one by one and were never fixed or replaced, until there was no working transportation left. Seems like the US is heading in the same direction.

Note how it took $354 million to build the previous system, and at least $70 million just to TALK about building the next system, if it is ever built.

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APH April 27, 2015 - 7:53 pm

Especially terrible because the PANYNJ has been making loads of money off all 3 major airports for a long time (and using much of those “profits” to pay for god knows what)

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JJJJ April 27, 2015 - 8:14 pm

And it was closed all summer last year to be rebuilt.

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Tower18 April 28, 2015 - 10:16 am

Roads and bridges!

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Nathanael April 28, 2015 - 1:43 am

So replace it with a direct PATH extension to the airport.

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adirondacker12800 April 28, 2015 - 3:37 am

The main reason they built the monorail was to get all of the shuttle buses out of the terminals. PATH can’t do that.

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lawhawk April 28, 2015 - 9:17 am

You still need an airport circulator to handle the on-airport traffic, for between terminals, the parking areas, long term lots, and NJ Transit connect on the NEC. PATH could conceivably terminate at the airport central area, but you’d still have to provide circulation between the different areas. The monorail is an awful design as compared to the JFK Airtrain, which is much more reliable and extends not only to Jamaica, but runs to the long term lots and circulates between the terminals.

It has resulted in a significant reduction of traffic and operational costs from personnel (bus drivers) that used to run those routes. One of the EWR Airtrain’s major failings (besides the 25 year lifespan) is that it doesn’t run out to the long term lots, which means you don’t get the cost savings there either – you’ve got to run buses through the airport.

Any successor project should incorporate the long term lots into the plan.

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tacony April 28, 2015 - 10:09 am

There’s a recent trend of airports making transit access worse in the name of “get[ting] all of the shuttle buses out of the terminals.” Miami just did it with their Central Station project. You used to be able to take the bus directly from the terminals to South Beach. Now you have to spend 15 minutes walking down long corridors to get on a monorail, wait for it to arrive, take it to the centralized airport transit center, walk down massive sets of stairs (or wait for an elevator) to get to the ground, and wait for the bus. And this is billed as a reduction in congestion and an environmental benefit because it “gets the buses out of the terminals.”

Note that cabs and private cars are never expelled from the terminals, because it’s important that those people have quick, direct access. It’s transit users that are always deemed to be the problem causing congestion. Since their trips are so slow and circuitous anyway, having them transfer to yet another mode is apparently seen as no big deal. Cabs must always be able to pick up by the terminals. The priorities are clear.

Of course, degrading the transit experience causes mode shift– if it’s more convenient to just grab a cab instead of embarking on a ridiculous transit trek, many will. The airport planners don’t seem to be considering this at all (or they just don’t care).

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adirondacker12800 April 28, 2015 - 2:29 pm

There are kiss-n-ride stops and cell phone lots at Newark and JFK. The buses to Manhattan still come and go. The buses to downtown Newark and Elizabeth at Newark and the buses to the rest of Queens and Brooklyn at JFK. The train – out of all the traffic at the terminals – is a wonderful thing for the people going to the parking lots and the car rentals and the hotel shuttles. They get to where they are going faster and more reliably. and a wonderful thing for people changing terminals. They don’t get stuck in traffic and miss their flight.

Rich B April 29, 2015 - 3:59 pm

Well, I think the MTA is already saying end of 2017 for the SAS in some places. From the most recent NYCT & Bus committee report, including minutes from the last meeting:

VP Plochochi highlighted for the Committee two procurement Agenda items: (1) the ratification of a contract modification to New Flyer of America Incorporated in the amount of $35,538,336 for the purchase of 72 low floor, 40-foot, standard diesel buses, and (2) a retroactive modification to the Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. contract extending the construction management services on Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway Project through construction closeout in December 2017 in the amount of $54,380,770. Motions were duly made and seconded to approve the procurement action items.

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Benjamin Kabak April 29, 2015 - 4:03 pm

Construction won’t wrap until after the revenue service date. It makes sense to extend construction management well beyond the date the project should be open to the public. I wouldn’t read much into that.

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Frank April 30, 2015 - 12:55 am

Before comic con 2015 hopefully

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Trevor B July 14, 2015 - 2:21 pm

Too many delays for a new station. One mishap after another. I’m perdictictind a fall opening.

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