Following the news yesterday morning that 181st St. was falling down, New Yorkers scrambled to adjust their commutes. As the day wore on, the prospects for a fast repair seemed bleak, and a few minutes ago, Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges sent an e-mail update on the state of the station.
According to Fleuranges, 1 train service through 181st St. will “remain suspended until further notice.” Transit has brought on a contractor to repair the station, but this work will take several days to complete. Transit will not restore service “until it is safe to operate trains through the area.”
For now, riders needing to get through or past the 181st St. station will have little luck along that IRT line. The 1 train is running in two sections — between South Ferry and 168th St. and between Dyckman St. and 242nd St. in the Bronx. Shuttle buses are running between Dyckman and 168th Sts. Meanwhile, this evening, Transit announced that for as long as service is interrupted, the M3 along St. Nicholas Ave. will be free for customers traveling north at 168th St., any direction at 181st St. and south at 191st St. The A train remains an option.
In other words, it’s a mess up there, and I’m glad I’m no longer relying on the 1 train as I did when I traveled between Riverdale and the Upper West Side during high school. Meanwhile, the fallout from this incident — a collapsed tunnel ceiling at one of the system’s deepest stations — could stretch on for days and encompass more than just an inconvenient commute.
Writing in amNew York today, Heather Haddon reports on a potentially problematic development for the MTA. According to Washington Heights community groups, the MTA had advanced notice of problems at the station. Writes Haddon:
Transit officials failed to heed to three years of complaints over water leaks and crumbling tiles at the 181 Street No. 1 subway station, where a ceiling collapse covered 35 feet of track with debris and service has been knocked out for up to a week. “We’re not surprised. We’ve been hearing complaints about this from residents for years,” said Manny Velazquez, chair of Community Board 12 in Washington Heights.
According to Velazquez, the MTA had acknowledged the community board’s concerns but did not take action. The agency did not respond directly to the board’s allegations Monday. The MTA said they are still investigating the cause of the Sunday evening collapse of the station’s landmarked brick ceiling and archway, but local officials believe water seepage contributed to the problem.
Water is a chronic complaint at many of the deep stations on the No. 1 line, and residents sometimes use umbrellas to keep dry, Velazquez said.
It’s tough to understate the impact of this news. The 1 train services around 600,000 passengers per week day with 26,500 of them using the 181st St. station. If the MTA had a prior warning that something may be wrong, we’re in for an investigation.
And in fact, an investigation is just what Andrew Albert, a non-voting member of the MTA Board, has requested. Albert noted that the MTA generally does not replace station roofs during overhauls, but perhaps, the agency should. “This certainly calls for inspecting all of the tunnels to ensure their integrity,” Albert said to Haddon.
As Transit struggled to bring a station on the list of the National Register of Historic Places back online and continues to look into the cause of collapse, this story and its ramifications on the rest of the system is only just beginning to unfold.