As the Bishop-approved 7 line extension marches inevitably toward a 2013 completion, questions about the project continue to swirl. The City and MTA are at an impasse over the funding for a planned station at 10th and 41st St., and with the Hudson Yards project decades away from reality, this West Side extension will serve an area rich in space and poor in actual riders for some time.
Today, as the city comes to terms with the compromise transit package soon to be pass in Albany, the fate of the 7 line may again be at a turning point. According to The Daily News and some leading transit advocates, aspects of the 7 line extension — including the purchasing of new cars — are not high on the MTA’s priority list. As such, the new station at 34th and 11th Ave. will exist and serve whatever is in the area, but the MTA may not have the money for new cars to adequate service the entire line.
Pete Donohue has more:
Straphangers could wind up with an extended No. 7 subway line – but not more frequent train service – if the MTA has to adopt a leaner capital plan, experts said.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials have envisioned a 2010-2014 capital construction and maintenance program in the range of $25 billion to $30 billion. But transit managers will have to cancel or delay some big-ticket items if Albany doesn’t provide enough funding to pay such a large tab.
Buying additional subway cars to expand the No. 7 line fleet is one move that could be shelved, according to Bob Yaro of the Regional Plan Association. “You would be spending billions of dollars on the No. 7 line extension, but without the additional cars, you wouldn’t be able to handle an increase in ridership,” Yaro said.
Donohue notes that on the MTA’s prioritized list of capital projects, the 7 line extension is in the third tier. The agency would first like to complete the installation of new tracking, the upgrading of power and tunnel exhaust systems and an overhaul of their old buses. The second tier contains the expansion projects for the East Side, and the third tier, for now, features future legs of the Second Ave. Subway, money for a 21st century communications and signal system and the 7 line car purchases.
We could debate the wisdom in that allocation for a while. I’d argue that a communications and signal system should probably be prioritized in the first tier, but the logistic behind that project are substantial.
Maybe in the end, the state delivers the money, and the MTA can go ahead will all three tiers of its capital program. For now, though, the 7 line extension remains a troubled project, a victim of inter-agency fighting and competing agency aims. To build it without the added capacity would be a disservice to hundreds of thousands of Queens commuters.