Home View from Underground After Bleecker St., other missing transfer points

After Bleecker St., other missing transfer points

by Benjamin Kabak

In a day and a half, one of the more annoying out-of-system transfers will be eliminated.

At 12 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, after decades of frustration and months of waiting, the transfer between the uptown 6 train at Bleecker St. and the B/D/F/M trains at Broadway/Lafayette St. will finally open. For thousands of riders, this transfer will cut down on travel times and improve one of the oddities of the system. The project may be months late and millions over budget, but it’s welcome nonetheless.

In The Times today, Matt Flegenheimer tried to get to the root of the transfer’s history. Why weren’t the north and south platforms at Bleecker St. aligned? Even though the BMT station opened 30 years after Bleecker St., it took transit planners another 70 years to correct the problem. “There’s no real documentation” concerning the origins of this decision, a Transit spokesman said.

I’ve heard various theories over the years. Some have said that the streets weren’t wide enough to accomodate two platforms and four tracks all in parallel while others have pointed to real estate costs, the curvature of the streets or the political reality aboveground at the time the IRT was laid out and constructed. Ultimately, the historical why of it isn’t really important. It’s been corrected, and anyone who takes the subway for the first time on Tuesday afternoon won’t know any better.

With this saga behind us — although I still think a public accounting for the delays and cost overruns would be appropriate — I took a look at the subway map to assess a few other spots that could use similar treatment or at least a free transfer. In no particular order, I’ve laid out my top choices. Here we go:

1. Junius St. (3) and Livonia Ave. (L)
The 7th Ave. IRT and the L train meet once in Manhattan, and that’s it. Meanwhile, the 3 train crosses over the L as the former nears Junius St. and the latter Livonia Ave. While these two stops are in a neighborhood miles removed from the Chelsea station, such a transfer would provide a streamlined ride for those heading to Canarsie or through Bushwich and into Williamsburg. A walkway overpass leads from one end of Junius St. to the L platform at Livonia Ave. over the Bay Ridge Branch for the LIRR, and the area has long clamored for a free transfer.

2. Hewes St. (J/M/Z) and Broadway (G)
Here, we again have a spot in Brooklyn where an elevated line crosses over another, and yet, there is no free transfer in place. The Hewes St. station has a shuttered entrance that leads to, well, Hewes St., two short blocks away from the G train. Building an in-system transfer here would be fairly costly and possibly challenging with the South 4th St. shell in the way, but an out-of-system transfer would easily connect G train riders with a two-seat ride into Midtown or Lower Manhattan. At some point soon, Transit is going to have to assess how it treats the G train, and putting in place a free transfer at this spot in South Williamsburg would be a good start.

3. Jay St./Metrotech (A/C/F/R) and Borough Hall (2/3/4/5/R)
That the R stops at both of these stations is a strong argument against such a transfer. Costs, predicted to be steep, is the other. Still, once in Brooklyn the A, C and F don’t intersect with the IRT lines, and a transfer could better deliver straphangers to the Fulton and Culver Lines. Still, Fulton St. is only a few stops away, and all of these lines, less the F, meet up there.

4. Fulton St. (G) and Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center (2/3/4/5/B/D/N/Q/R)
Here, an underground tunnel would be far too long, far too costly and far too complicated to engineer. It would to skirt BAM and the LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal, and it would probably require some serious reengineering of the underground space to improve passenger flow. The station’s main passageways are on the other side of the B/Q tracks. Still, an out-of-system free transfer would help traverse the 600 feet or so between the lonely G train and this major hub. As it stands now, the G connects with trains to Manhattan at isolated points, but it never runs into the IRT lines or the BMT lines. Such a transfer would correct this problem.

Beyond these four, it’s hard to spot too many other places on the map where adding a free out-of-system transfer or creating new in-system transfers would make much sense. Maybe one could make an argument for a 2/3 stop at 103rd and a transfer to the B/C station there, but it’s likely more cost and trouble than it’s worth. Still, in a few spots the system could be more passenger-friendly, and with Bleecker Street’s quirk resolved, it’s time to look at a few others.

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Alex C September 24, 2012 - 12:22 am

I would add Hoyt St and Hoyt-Schemerhorn Streets, as that would require a short passageway between the two stops and at least give the A/C/G a connection to two of the Atlantic Ave complex trains in the form of the 2 and 3. The Junius/Livonia connection really needs to get done already. It isn’t in the most densely-trafficked area, but it’s a connection that would probably prove useful to folks using the 3 and L.

Ian W. September 24, 2012 - 12:24 am

Here’s one that’s literally right around the corner from Bleecker Street: Why doesn’t Broadway/Lafayette connect to the N/R at Prince Street? As far as I can tell the north end of the Prince St platform is nearly adjacent to B/D/F/M platform below. It probably doesn’t matter much with 34th St just a few stops up, but I could still see it being useful for some trips.

John September 24, 2012 - 12:56 am

Probably for a similar reason to the lack of connection at Rector Street (1/R) or Bowling Green (4/5) to Whitehall/South Ferry (1/R): adjacent stops with transfers, though the 1 never intersects the Lexington IRT at any point and could very easily there.

Bruce September 24, 2012 - 9:14 am

The East Side IRT used to have the Bowling Green Shuttle which terminated in a loop at South Ferry, which ran parallel to the #1’s former loop terminal. Could passengers transfer between the two lines back then?

bgriff September 24, 2012 - 9:59 am Reply
Bob Sklar November 4, 2015 - 8:35 am

When the Bowling Green shuttle ran, prior to about 1978, it went to the inner South Ferry platform, and then backed out back to Bowling Green, with no free transfer at South Ferry. When the (5) or (6) ran through to South Ferry, they switched to the outer platform on the way downtown, and then back to the inner track after going around the loop and proceeded forwards. Thus, at those hours and days there was a transfer between the (5) or (6) and the (1).

Marc Shepherd September 24, 2012 - 11:46 am

That’s a high-cost, low-benefit transfer. Those lines have multiple points of connection in Brooklyn and at Herald Square, and at many of the in-between stations, the two lines aren’t that far apart. Since Prince Street has no cross-under, they’d need to build two separate pedestrian tunnels (one to the north-bound side, another to the south-bound side) in a very densely built-up area. It would be complex and expensive.

People often forget that the exercise is not merely to list stations that are physically close without a transfer, but also where a significant number of commuters are inconvenienced by not being able to switch. It’s hard to come up with very many plausible trips where that connection would be used. For something that hard to build, it’s got to get up to many thousands of people per day, before the cost-benefit makes sense.

Michael September 24, 2012 - 10:50 pm

Broadway Lafayette to prince st would be a very cheap transfer to build. The prince street platforms are within 50′ of the broadway Lafayette station box. Thes platforms would only need to be extended a short distance north and they will punch into the very tall void in broadway Lafayette.

Just look at the neighborhood maps to see very roughly how close these stations are.

Also if you look inside broadway Lafayette at the ceiling on the west side you can see the full broadway Line passing through the station. Once platforms are extended, the rest of the construction can be done inside broadway Lafayette, by adding a mezzanine within the existing space plus stairs/elevators to the 6th st line platforms.

The tenifits are tremendous relative to the small cost. Broadway line connections to M and F riders who don’t want to go downtown to transfer uptown. Also ths would add ADA access to prince street. This would also reduce overcrowding at the existing prince st entrances.

The MTA needs to plan on providing transfers at virtually all crossing lines. The benifit to riders is substantial when you can make any trip with 1 transfer, rather than two or three, especially when riding late night or on weekends with reduced/altered service.

Kai B September 24, 2012 - 12:30 am

Broadway is about equidistant from Hewes St and Lorimer St (the closed entrance of Hewes is about 20 feet closer). Interesting too, is that the area between Broadway and the closed entrance of Hewes is mostly parking lots and superfluous intersections. Kind of ripe for building something.

John-2 September 24, 2012 - 10:13 am

If something is ever built there, the city can work with the MTA to mandate the builder(s) put in a basement passageway that connects the G with the J/M/Z in exchange for some sort of property tax abatement, the way the 6 and the E/M were connected at 53rd and Lex via a public-private agreement, and the G was hooked into the E/M at Court Square/23rd-Ely.

BBnet3000 September 24, 2012 - 12:50 am

Queens Plaza and Queensboro Plaza?

How the hell am I supposed to get from Astoria (read: Beer Garden) back to my apartment by the Woodhaven Blvd MR station without having someone im with who is paying per ride pay twice, or going into Manhattan?

John September 24, 2012 - 12:53 am

N/Q -> 7 -> M OR N -> 7 -> E -> R

Matthias September 24, 2012 - 8:56 am

Let’s make it simpler: (N) to Queensboro Plaza, (7) to 74 St, (R) to Woodhaven.

It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s entirely in-system. I suppose an out-of-system transfer would work at Queens/boro Plaza. There’s really no good way to build one in-system.

ajedrez September 24, 2012 - 5:30 pm

Either that, or just (N) -> (R) directly.

Ian September 24, 2012 - 10:25 am

Maybe the easiest solution is stop hanging out with people who only have pay per ride cards.

Someone September 26, 2012 - 8:06 pm

That’s VERY easy. Take the (N)(Q) to Lexington Ave, and take the (R) back. Or (N)(Q) to Queensboro Plaza for (&), transfer to (M)(R) at 74 St. (Expect >30 minutes of travel time.)

Someone September 26, 2012 - 8:06 pm

Sorry, I meant (7).

John September 24, 2012 - 12:51 am

Another big issue with Fulton (G) would be having the passageways cross under the Fulton IND (A/C) tracks, including the Lafayette Avenue local station. An out-of-system transfer would work well for connecting both stations to the hub at Atlantic Terminal. The G train does intersect the 4th Avenue Local (R daytime D/N nights) at 4th/9th.

G to either of the surrounding J/M stations (Z skips) would be fantastic either in or out of system.

Van Sinderen Avenue is ONE BLOCK from Junis Street. Why the transfer hasn’t been constructed is very puzzling, though it could have a lot to do with ADA requirements making it prohibitively expensive with the number of people projected to use it per day. Simply putting the existing passageway within fare control I do not believe would be allowed under ADA. It would be nice to see an out-of-system transfer established there until an in-system transfer can be completed.

Andrew September 25, 2012 - 12:02 am

An out-of-system transfer at Atlantic Avenue would be responsible for significant revenue loss as shoppers inadvertently trigger the free transfer on their return trips. The walk to the G is fairly long and, despite the relative lack of good alternatives, isn’t terribly attractive.

Putting the existing passageway inside fare control would force pedestrians to pay the subway fare simply to cross over the LIRR tracks. (I suspect that a significant majority of people who use that passageway are pedestrians, not subway riders.) It would also give NYCT a security headache. And I doubt there’s a strong market for it.

Alon Levy September 24, 2012 - 1:21 am

1. Nitpick: Broadway-Lafayette is an IND station, not a BMT station.

2. I’m not sure how useful QBP-QP would be – it would have some use because of the E and the N/Q, but less than before the Court Street transfer opened – but it definitely ranks at or near the top of the list of transfers that the IND should’ve planned on.

Benjamin September 24, 2012 - 3:42 pm

It’d mostly be useful for crosstown in Queens (NQ->Qns Blvd and vice versa) but would have the added benefit of clearing up E->N at night and avoiding the terrible 42nd Street transfer.

Ron Aryel September 24, 2012 - 1:36 am

The MTA Capital Oversight Committee minutes for september of 2012 point part of the blame for the cost overruns at contractor M.A. Angeliades’ poor project management and late deliveries of components and “street furniture.” Other factors were beyond Angeliades’ control: the sphaghetti of utilities that had to be moved, and a building that was ready to collapse, whose owner could not afford to repair it. Maybe the MTA should consider not accepting bids from Angeliades in the future if this is not the first time this company has screwed up a project schedule.

R. Graham September 24, 2012 - 1:43 am

I just wanted to jump in here to throw in my two cents on the Junius St 3/Livonia Ave L idea. I thought about this one of the years from looking at the map as a kid and then I changed my mind the last time my feet hit the ground in that neighborhood. I took someone home over there and ran for that L train as if my life depended on it and it felt like it did that night. That’s a transfer you can’t get a contractor to do without adding a few extra million for hazard pay.

Stephen Smith September 24, 2012 - 2:46 am

In other words, you thought this was a good idea until you learned that black people live there?

R. Graham September 24, 2012 - 3:28 am

I am black…I just didn’t know Brownsville could be as dangerous as it is. Then again I was ignorant of Brownsville back then. Now I’m well aware of the dangerous of evening walking down the street and looking out of place in Brownsville. Has nothing to do with race. If you don’t look as if you belong there or ever been there then you will be an easy target to spot.

Bolwerk September 24, 2012 - 3:21 am

Here’s one: everything an out of system transfer. Bus to train, train to bus, train to train (in system or out), bus to bus. Give people two hours to make 4 or 5 transfers.* Then we can see first hand what the best in-system connections to build would be based on use.

* Minor problem: some people can make a full trip in that time. I’ve actually done that exploiting the out of system free transfer at 59th/63rd.

bgriff September 24, 2012 - 10:06 am

This is the issue: “free” out-of-system transfers cost the MTA money, especially at major stations. I have, for example, come in from Brooklyn to 59th Street on the 4, ran an errand, and swiped back into 59th Street station before the two-hour countdown was up, and got a free ride home.

Indeed, the system doesn’t even know where you came from: I could have come from the Bronx on the 4, or from Queens on the N, and as long as I swiped into 59/Lex or 63/Lex within 2 hours of the first swipe, the ride is free. Some people can strategize by these giveaways, while others will accidentally be given a free ride without even realizing it.

At a major station like Atlantic-Pacific(-Barclays), the number of these strategic or accidental free rides given would start to become a significant drain on MTA funds, I’d imagine.

As for a more liberal free transfer system, it’s possible…in Berlin, for example, there are no faregates anywhere, and all fare collection is based on the honor system with occasional police patrols to check for proof of payment. As a result transfers are much more informal–some do offer underground passageways, but other transfers marked on the map are simply stations that happen to be near each other. A proof-of-payment system probably wouldn’t work in New York, but a “one-swipe-equals-unlimited-rides-for-two-hours” system might. I’d have to think about how scam artists might incorporate that into their selling rides schemes though.

Bolwerk September 24, 2012 - 12:56 pm

Yes, it could be a problem. Though I rather suspect the number of people who can exploit round trips like that is limited. You can capture a lot of it by simply charging to re-enter a station on the same line as you swiped in,*† even if your 2-hours isn’t up.

* For instance: get on at Halsey L. Get off at Bedford, do something hip. Get back on to go home, get changed.

† Or: get on at Halsey L, get off at Union Squre to visit Farmers Market. Get back on at Union Square to take Lex up to Grand Central? Get dinged, becuase you could have transferred at Union Square. But walking to 23rd on the 6 would be a legitimate transfer to get to GCT. Not perfect, but does capture some more revenue.

Andrew September 24, 2012 - 11:29 pm

Exactly right, and that’s why clear NYCT policy has been to institute out-of-system transfers only where service changes have eliminated in-system transfers. Aside from a few temporary construction-related transfers, the only two out-of-system transfers have been the F to the 4/5/6 at 63-59/Lex, instituted to take the place of the former F-6 transfer at 53/Lex, and the G to the 7 at Court Square (now “internalized”), instituted to mitigate the loss of the Queens Plaza transfer when the G was cut back on weekdays.

Liberalizing the transfer system would be a very nice change, but it would come at a cost, which would need to be offset somehow.

Henry September 24, 2012 - 7:44 pm

I mean if we want to encourage ridership, a 2-hour pass would be the best way to go.
To solve the problem of verifying slips, just print the time and date the transfer slip expires in big, black letters on the slip. Use the magnetic strip to verify that it is, in fact, a transfer slip, and the issue is solved.

I personally find it ridiculous that it is possible for some intra-borough rides to cost more and take longer than trips into Manhattan.

Bolwerk September 24, 2012 - 8:28 pm

Yeah, well, I don’t know about needing slips. Just use the magnetic strip, as they do now.

The thing is, the transfer price has little relation to trip cost. Somebody who uses a bus to go the same distance as a train probably automatically costs more. Likewise, someone making a Rockaway to Midtown trip probably costs more than a G rider who switches to the J to get to Manhattan. There are certainly round trips that cost less than one-way trips as is, but they’re priced the same.

Selling time seems way more fair to me.

Asher September 24, 2012 - 4:42 am

How about some out-of-system transfers, like re-opening the Gimbel’s tunnel or the 34thst to 43nd street tunnel? If it’s a security concern, then what about adding security cameras or limiting the hours that the tunnels are open?

Ian September 24, 2012 - 10:29 am

Hasn’t there already been talk of reopening the Gimbel’s tunnel? Or was this contingent on the new commuter rail platforms with part of the now cancelled ARC tunnel?

Nick Ober September 24, 2012 - 2:47 pm

I believe Vornado has disccused it as part of their office tower proposal across from Penn.

al September 24, 2012 - 2:54 pm

The Port Authority could look into the 34th-41st st passageway underneath 6th Ave. They can install a moving sidewalk for the PATH commuters.

John T September 24, 2012 - 7:13 am

I agree with many of the above proposed transfers, plus one more – Quuens Plaza (E, M, R) & Queensboro Plaza (7, N). They should have been one complex in gthe first place, and allow

Andrew September 25, 2012 - 12:05 am

Note that the east end of the Queensboro Plaza platform is a good three-block walk from Queens Plaza. (The platform can’t be shifted east because of the interlocking and track elevation changes.)

There’s also a major vertical shift between the two.

It would be somewhat useful but very costly.

Someone September 26, 2012 - 8:11 pm

There is no way the MTA can rebuild the stations to connect Queens Plaza and Queensboro Plaza stations without shifting the position of the tracks themselves, I agree. Also, note that while the former IRT and BMT operated Queensboro Plaza, the Queens Plaza station was formerly IND trackage. A long escalator and a new mezzanine at Queensboro Plaza would be required to build the transfer. Feasible, but not likely to happen.

Squid September 24, 2012 - 7:21 am

Queens Plaza E R M and QueensBoro Plaza N Q 7; it’s a five minute walk past the new Gotham Center, but completely unmarked.

A dedicated walkway and escalator complex would make it an easy two minutes.

corey best September 24, 2012 - 7:21 am

Not a Free Transfer , but could they reopen the Tunnel between Penn Station & Herald SQ….

Squid September 24, 2012 - 7:30 am

A walk way by the 5 Points Graffitti House from Court House Square skald 23 Ely) to Hunterspoint LIRR would cut the walk by 70 % or eliminate a one stop 7 ride from Hunters Point (note space, vs Hunterspoint LIRR).

Marsha September 24, 2012 - 8:45 am

I vote for reopening the west tunnel at the 14th Street IRT so I can walk to the A, C, and E lines. The east tunnel to the L and F trains is a huge plus and it wasn’t reopened all that long ago (in transit time).

smartone September 24, 2012 - 9:31 am

Not connecting two subways but something that should happen
An entrance to 1st Ave L Train stop at the back of train on Avenue A.
along with ability to transfer between 8 ave bound and brooklyn bound tracks

cpinck September 24, 2012 - 6:59 pm

The opening at the back of that station would be great. I never understood why it didn’t exist.

Someone September 26, 2012 - 8:12 pm

Yeah, I thought so too. I needed to get off at 1 Avenue station back in the day to get to my school near Ave A.

crescent22 September 24, 2012 - 9:52 am

What is the reason it took another fare deduction to transfer above ground at Bleecker? WHy couldn’t they program it like Lex/63rd and Lex/59th?

Carol_Gardens September 24, 2012 - 4:12 pm

I always wondering about this, too!

Carol_Gardens September 24, 2012 - 4:12 pm

I mean “wondered”.

Andrew September 24, 2012 - 11:30 pm

Out-of-system transfers are only instituted to replace in-system transfers that have been severed. There has never been an in-system transfer here.

Larry Littlefield September 24, 2012 - 9:57 am

Herald Square to Penn Station. Grand Central to Rockefeller Center.

The point isn’t a transfer within fare control. It is a transfer or just walk to a destination without having to go up and out, and down again, waiting at the light to cross the street.

If you are going to spring for underground construction, that’s where to do it.

TP September 24, 2012 - 10:44 am

I was under the assumption that one of the biggest reasons that this and many other transfers were never built is that the BMT, IRT, and IND were separate companies that didn’t always coordinate their efforts and in many cases had no incentive to encourage transfers between systems even if they had the wherewithal to include them. The Times article should have at least mentioned that the city didn’t take over the bankrupt IRT system until after B’way-Lafayette was built, and only later did it become a priority to build transfers.

The IND platforms at B’way-Lafayette were built with transfers as an afterthought, a free transfer on the southbound platform was created in 1957, while the geography of the platforms made the construction of a northbound transfer more expensive and complicated, so it was delayed until now. The Times article makes it sound like it’s some great mystery. Seems pretty logical to me what happened.

John-2 September 24, 2012 - 1:15 pm

The only real mystery is why, after the Board of Transportation lengthened the southbound platforms on the 6 in the late 1940s, the TA decided when lengthening the northbound platforms a decade later, the ones at Spring, Bleecker and Astor Place were off-set, with the northbound extensions built in the opposite direction from the original station as the southbound platforms.

Other than creating more noise for passengers on those platforms as the opposite direction locals joined the expresses in speeding by (you’d think the city would have learned about the noise problem from their craptastic design for the 42nd Street station on the A/C/E), the offsets at Spring and Astor Place don’t really make a difference. But the TA knew doing the same thing at Bleecker would negate the ability to put in a two-way transfer to the 6, since the downtown connection to the IND was already in place. That’s the puzzling part (especially since when they extended the uptown platform on the 6 at Canal it was not offset from the downtown platform, so it wasn’t as if they absolutely couldn’t extend both platforms in the same direction along Lafayette Street).

Jason September 24, 2012 - 10:53 am

Anyone know the engineering difficulty of making an in-system transfer from 63rd/Lex to 59th/Lex complex?

John-2 September 24, 2012 - 1:49 pm

It would require a three-block (780-foot) passageway, presumably alongside either the IRT local tunnel or at the level of the mezzanine above the express tracks, but below the BMT and the local platform at 60th Street (plus the required ADA elevators).

Right now, the political will isn’t there, but once the SAS opens up, if there’s enough public demand for an in-system transfer between the upper Second Avenue stations and the 4/5/6, it could end up in a future capital budget (and as much as people from Queens using the F might want a direct connection to the East Side IRT, the future Upper East Side riders using the Q likely have more clout to make that happen, if they want a more direct connection to Grand Central and Lower Manhattan than the zig-zaggy BMT route).

al September 24, 2012 - 2:58 pm

The transfer is too long to work without a moving sidewalk. Even then, the transfer needs careful analysis due to crush loading on Lex Ave lines.

Tower18 September 24, 2012 - 3:18 pm

Wouldn’t encouraging this transfer sort of negate a lot of the purpose behind the Second Avenue Subway? If a good portion of the riders from those 30 blocks just get right back on the 4/5/6 at 59th, you haven’t really solved anything.

BoerumBum September 24, 2012 - 3:57 pm

Remind me again, when will I be able to take the SAS from 125th to Hanover Square?

John-2 September 24, 2012 - 4:02 pm

Depends on how many people leave the 4/5/6 at 59th to get on the N/R/Q to go to the west side right now, and how many get off the N/R/Q to get on the 4/5/6.

If the Q to 96th takes enough people off the upper Lex headed for Midtown west side, and you still have people coming from the Bronx or above 96th switching to the BMT at 59th, there might be possible future capacity south of 59th on the Lex to permit for additional passengers getting on there from a 63rd Street transfer (the more cost-effective option would still be for UES passenger needing the Lex to just walk to the Lex instead of getting on the Q at Second Ave. But like I said, if this transfer were to get built, it would be as much about political clout among the UESers as it is about absolute necessity, like the new uptown 6 connection to the B/D/F/M.)

BoerumBum September 24, 2012 - 11:02 am

Slightly off topic, but does anyone know why the top of the 3 train was never extended further to the west?

TP September 24, 2012 - 11:39 am

You mean beyond 148th St? Massive cost of tunneling through the drastic change in elevation going east-west across the ridge of Upper Manhattan there? Central Harlem is essentially flat but Morningside/St Nick/Jackie Robinson Park mark the ascent of the ridge of West Harlem there. I think you’d have to tunnel really deep to avoid the train having to make a steep incline. Not sure how much benefit there’d be vs the cost.

148th was added as a quick fix to replace 145th when the stations were lengthened for 10 car trains, but they never actually closed 145th due to neighborhood opposition. The yard was already there, so they could easily build a station there with little cost.

BoerumBum September 24, 2012 - 11:42 am

Makes sense, thanks! I’ve always been dismayed at the lack of underground crosstown options in upper Manhattan, and it appeared that the turn in the 3 might have been an abortive attempt at that.

Joseph Steindam September 24, 2012 - 10:08 pm

The best hope for an Upper Manhattan crosstown is the Second Avenue Subway. The 125 St terminal is already planned to turn onto 125th and meet the Lexington Ave station. Building underneath 2 underground lines and 1 elevated lines won’t be easy, especially underneath a corridor as busy as 125th, but it would be very well used and a real benefit to Upper Manhattan transportation.

Bruce September 25, 2012 - 4:28 am

I totally agree. It could make life easier for commuters using the GWB bus station who need to get to the East Side, as well as people who need to get to all of the hospitals on the East Side, etc.
It appears from diagrams that the line will be quite deep at 125th/Lexington so perhaps deep bore tunneling from this point west won’t be as difficult beneath the other subway lines.

Nathanael October 3, 2012 - 11:10 pm

Yeah. If Phase 2 of the SAS is ever built, the next phase should be the 125th Avenue Extension: a transfer station for each of the existing 125th St stations (three), terminating in Manhattanville.

Bolwerk September 24, 2012 - 1:00 pm

You’re probably right, for the historical reasons, but the very project this blog is the namesake of employs that kind of tunneling for little reason anyway. :-p

Stu Sutcliffe September 24, 2012 - 4:50 pm

The only 3 extension ever discussed was north, to link up with what was left of the 9th Avenue El at the time, and connect with the Jerome Avenue line. Too expensive and capital intensive.

Benjamin September 24, 2012 - 3:53 pm

Much better idea to extend the 3 up to Yankee Stadium than to the West. Or have the 3 go Cross-Bronx along 161st street, although hills would probably make that cost-prohibitive.

BoerumBum September 24, 2012 - 4:02 pm

Wouldn’t really solve the upper Manhattan lack of cross-town options, though. Guess I’m stuck walking twice as fast as the M60 can drive…

AlexB September 24, 2012 - 11:13 am

I would add these:
– 7th Ave B/D/E to 57th St N/Q/R via 1.5 block tunnel under 7th ave. The point of this transfer is to speed up trips from Astoria, Queens Blvd, and 2nd ave (2016) to the upper west side and 8th ave. This would be a shorter transfer than the existing Times Sq transfer from the ACE to NQR and would also be shorter than a walkway from Queens Plaza to Queensboro Plaza. The short walk would save time over having to go so far out of one’s way to go to 34th to get from the NQR to the BD. I often use this transfer now simply by walking from 53rd to 55th along 7th.

– Grand St B/D to Bowery J/Z. These platforms are already so close, it’s very weird they aren’t connected, or even included in the work for the 2nd ave subway. This would give J/Z riders a direct transfer to W 4th and the upper west side without having to use the M, which doesn’t even run on the weekends, and would relieve pressure on the congested Canal St station. Even the M will not connect to the future 2nd ave line, and this transfer would allow J/Z users to eventually get to east midtown faster than the 6.

– City Hall R/(W) to Park Place 2/3. These stations are basically right on top of each other and would be the easiest transfer between these lines. These lines already connect at Times Square and Atlantic and another transfer isn’t needed. However, if the 2/3 or R tunnels are ever closed for work, or if the MTA eve revives a Broaway route that doesn’t continue to Brooklyn (like the W) the transfer would provide a great alternative that would be a lot faster than using the Dey St tunnel at Fulton. Combined with the transfer from the E to R at Cortlandt/WTC, this would also allow someone to walk from Williams St and Fulton St all the way to City Hall completely underground.

– Yankee Stadium 4/5 and B/D. This is already a major transfer, but not for the express tracks. If the MTA ever revives, regularizes, and expands the 4 express in the Bronx, it would be excellent if one could transfer between the D express and the 4 express here, allowing for some impressive time savings. It would require some major station reconstruction. It would also build in a lot of redundancy if one line’s local track were shut down and stations were skipped. The 4 and B/D are so close, they can substitute for one another.

– Hewes St J/Z/M and Broadway G. This was already mentioned in the post, but I think this could be a bigger picture transfer station that could open up many new development opportunities in the area. I would tear down the Lorimer and Hewes stations completely and build an express station over Union St with fast connections similar to Court Sq. As a potentially faster alternative to the crowded A/C transfer at Hoyt-Schermerhorn or the long walk to the E/M at Court Square, this could draw a lot of commuters. The Metropolitan-Lorimer transfer doesn’t get anyone to midtown, and a great transfer here could shift some people off the L train.

– W 4th A/C/E/B/D/F/M to 9th St PATH and Christopher St 1. There is no connection between the PATH and the 8th Ave trains that doesn’t involve a walk above ground or a third train. This would speed up a lot of trips to/from New Jersey.

– Jay St. Metrotech A/C/F/R to Court St 2/3/4/5/R. This transfer possibility was already mentioned and it has been noted that it would be redundant in a lot of ways, but I wanted to point out that it would be the only real transfer between the 4/5 and the F (unless Bleecker were made an express stop) and would make a lot of Brooklyn-Brooklyn trips a lot easier.

– Fulton St G to Atlantic Ave 2/3/4/5/B/D/N/Q/R. I would NOT build an expensive pedestrian tunnel; rather, I would physically connect the G to the R train as it approaches DeKalb. There is extra capacity on the Montague tunnel to add the G even if new service is added along 4th Ave. A new pedestrian tunnel would be too long to lure many commuters, and a thousand feet or so of new tunnel & track would be worth it.

Joseph Steindam September 24, 2012 - 10:20 pm

I like the idea of connecting the 7th Ave B/D/E to the 57th Street N/Q/R the most of the proposals, followed by the idea of somehow tying in the G to the R tracks at Dekalb. This sounds like a daunting task, the track network is very dense there, but I think they did build the tracks with bell mouths for the Fulton Elevated which was never connected. I wonder if it’s feasible. I’ve thought of myriad ways to connect the G to Manhattan, I’d love to study this one.

The other proposals I’m more lukewarm about, except one. The one idea you propose that I can’t justify is the Grand Street B/D Bowery J/Z transfer. The J/Z already has a 24/7 transfer to the 6th Ave line at Essex-Delancey to the F, even when the M doesn’t run. Furthermore, the Canal Street transfer gets J/Z riders to the Q for the Brighton line and the N for much of the 4th Ave line. Sure it doesn’t give a direct transfer to the D, but the transfer facilitate easy same track or cross platform transfers. I don’t see it worth the investment.

Someone September 26, 2012 - 8:18 pm

I thought of the Grand St-Bowery transfer too. Also the 7th Ave to 57th Street. They might expand the Grand St station as part of the Second Avenue Subway’s fourth phase. However, I think that the 7 Ave transfer is more convienent to the 49 Street station as well, because 49 Street has high traffic.

Henry Louis Robinson July 27, 2020 - 8:10 pm

Bowery J/Z to Grand St. B/D is one I’ve been saying for years. As it is now, to go from Jamaica to the Bronx, there is no way around having to make at least two transfers. After hours, having to wait for a second transfer can end up making you wait a total of possibly an hour. In 1997, the fare on the S. I. Ferry was eliminated on the principle of “one city, one fare.” That’s all fine and good…but what about “one city, one transfer?” This is not an unreasonable idea by any stretch of the imagination. I wish there was a way to bring this to the attention of the MTA Board. Of course, right now with this coronavirus pandemic and the resulting financial disaster the MTA faces, this idea sadly will have to wait until we have at least begun to seriously recover economically and the MTA begins cutting into its budget shortfall.

Boerumhillscott September 24, 2012 - 11:30 am

I would rather see additional entrances for existing stations than new connections.

There are a number of stations that only have entrances at one end, which means you could end up walking two blocks below ground, then walk back those same to blocks above ground to get to your destination.
In some of these cases there are closed exits that can be refurbished and rebuilt, while others would require new construction.

Jason September 24, 2012 - 2:06 pm

YES! i would like to see the northern entrances restored on the F train at Delancy. I know they exist since sometimes staff leaves the doors open and if you catch a glimpse you can see all the old tiled stairs leading directly up to the street. Maybe install a couple HEET units at each so that commuters can bypass the cluster of people at the Essex/Delancey transfer area (this could also better spread travelers across the platform).

TP September 25, 2012 - 11:51 am

There were once entrances at Rivington and Broome but only the stairwell at the SE corner of Rivington and Essex remains. The entrance was probably built to make transfers to the 2nd Ave El, which stopped at Rivington, and when the el was removed it was seen as less valuable/worth keeping. And maybe the other entrances were removed when the escalators were built? Perhaps the attitude was that they were upgrading/modernizing the Delancey exits to handle the crowds so the minor exits (which they couldn’t afford/fit escalators) would be better off closed?

Henry September 27, 2012 - 7:54 pm

Personally, I’d like to see a new mezzanine at the eastern end of the Grand Street station on the B/D – while it’s by far the closest station to the center of Chinatown, it’s still not quite there, and a southern mezzanine could connect to the intersection of Bowery & Canal (and provide a safe crossing there, as well).

It would provide some relief, at least until Chatham Square on SAS Phase 4 opens when I have grandkids.

Seth Rosenblum September 24, 2012 - 12:35 pm

I agree with some of the above posters that Hewes and Lorimer should be torn down and replaced with a Broadway-Union stop that has a transfer to the G. It would help connect a lot of Williamsburg and Greenpoint into the rest of the grid.

The other transfer that needs to be improved is the L train to the m15 SBS downtown. An exit from the 3rd avenue L train station at second avenue could put lots of people right next to the Select Bus stop, and would push more riders to the other end of the train, where the crowding isn’t as bad.

I also agree that Prince street and Broadway Lafayette should be connected to each other, but not because of the free transfer. I think allowing people to enter the R trin from north of Houston, and enter the BDFM train from Prince street would help alleviate the pedestrain overcrowding above-ground, by mvoing it to the less-busy corridors below. Walking from Spring & Broadway to the BDFM can be a daunting task just because the crowds on the street are so dense.

LLQBTT September 24, 2012 - 1:42 pm

Lorimer serves Lindsay Park and is positioned perfectly for this task. There would be way too much opposition to this, and doubtful it would ever happen.

Benjamin Kabak September 24, 2012 - 1:44 pm

A single stop at Broadway and Union would be just as perfectly situated to serve Lindsay Park if entrances are dropped at the right spot.

AlexB September 24, 2012 - 2:07 pm

Yeah, a well designed Union St stop with exits at either end would shorten some walks to the J, and add a couple blocks maximum to anyone who used the Lorimer and Hewes stops. Depending on whether it’s oriented more to the east or west of Union, it could mean basically no extra walking.

Andrew September 24, 2012 - 11:46 pm

A new station at Union Avenue (not Street) with exits at the two extreme ends, if centered perfectly between the current exits and Hewes and Lorimer, would have exits about 2.5 blocks from the current exits.

That would yield significantly increased access time for many current riders. What evidence do you have that the benefits would outweigh the disbenefits (plus the capital cost)?

Andrew September 24, 2012 - 11:47 pm

Not the section of Lindsay Park between Lorimer and Leonard.

Bruce September 25, 2012 - 4:48 am

Both the 3rd Avenue and 1st Avenue stations on the L need entrances on the 2nd Ave. and Ave. A respectively. This is a very busy corridor, and in addition to your valid point about the M15 bus, would bring the subway closer to many Lower East Side residents.
The MTA should be able to get those done for under a billion dollars, and before say, 2018???

Ed September 24, 2012 - 1:29 pm

The 2,3,4,5,A,C,J, and R lines all run close together in Lower Manhattan, many through stations that are named “Fulton Street”. If only there was an easy way to transfer between these lines at this point, it would save people alot of roundabout transferring in Midtown or a detour to the Borough Hall station in Brooklyn.

Seriously, the 59th Street – Lexington Avenue Station could use a major upgrade, and this might be the time to do it when work is being done on the 63rd Street -Lexington Avenue anyway. Putting in an actual underground transfer between 59th Street and 63rd Street would be an improvement, as suggested above. But though technically you can get from the Express 4,5 tracks to the Local 6 tracks and back, it either involves navigating the overcrowded BMT platform between them, or a narrow staircase that always seems to be clogged with less-than-abled bodied people trying to navigate stairs that are too much for them. This station may be the least ADA compliant in the system and cries out for an elevator. And if you get the money, another possible upgrade would be a corridor from the BMT platform to the Roosevelt Island tram elevator!

There is an existing transfer between the Broad Street J and the Wall Street 4 Station, but its almost hidden and not very well known, I discovered it by accident. Its been awhile since I used it, I think it may involve exiting the system and may not be a true transfer. And there is no transfer between the Broad Street J and the Wall Street 2 and 3 that I know of, those these stations are actually closer than the Wall Street 4 and the Broad Street J. This could have been a cheaper alternative to the Fulton Street work, though I understand the Fulton Street project does other stuff and the money for it was not fungible.

Alex B above has some good ideas, and I also agree that Queens Plaza to Queensboro Plaza is the most obvious place in the outer boroughs to put a new transfer. If you could do that, those stations could become the Queens equivalent of Borough Hall in Brooklyn.

Matthias September 24, 2012 - 3:36 pm

It would be very cool if that passageway under Pine St would continue from Broad St J to Wall St 2/3. There’s already some underground space in the Wall St station extending toward Broad.

BoerumBum September 24, 2012 - 4:04 pm

Definately. It would certainly make the walk down the hill from Broadway easier in inclement weather.

Andrew September 24, 2012 - 11:50 pm

The busiest transfer at Fulton is between the 4/5 and the A/C. Wall wouldn’t help.

The connection at Wall/Broad is through a narrow, twisty, out-of-system passageway. You can continue walking east to the 2/3 through the Chase building.

Someone September 26, 2012 - 9:04 pm

The (N)(R)(Q) lexington Ave-59 Street station cannot be made ADA-accessible because the MTA says it’s “too narrow”. And as I said above the Queensboro-Queens Plazas transfers are not going to happen within budget because of the differing elevations, and because the stations are 3 blocks from each other.

Nathanael October 3, 2012 - 11:13 pm

:eyeroll: The MTA is going to have to make that station ADA-accessible sooner or later. Its foot-dragging now just costs more money later.

Andrew October 4, 2012 - 12:37 am

The MTA doesn’t have an unlimited capital budget, and the MTA has numerous capital needs aside from ADA improvements.

stan September 24, 2012 - 2:47 pm

as a rider of the (increasingly popular) G, i think that it would be a fairly low-cost change to add the free transfers at Hewes St J/Z/M-Broadway G and Fulton St G-Atlantic Ave 2/3/4/5/B/D/N/Q/R. these would both be tremendously convenient for me and give many extra manhattan options to G riders between ft. greene and williamsburg.

does anyone know of any logistical or technical barriers to actually making this change? seems to me that it would be a small software ‘upgrade’.

Josh September 24, 2012 - 3:20 pm

IMO the Court St.-Borough Hall and Jay St.-Metrotech complexes really aren’t really all that close to each other, despite the fact that they once shared the name “Borough Hall”. It’d be a hike of a transfer (pretty comparable to the distance between the 2/3 and 4/5 platforms at Fulton or the desolate tunnel between the 1/2/3 and F/M along 14th Street), and as pointed out above you can transfer among most of those lines, other than the F, more easily in lower Manhattan. Plus, the construction seems like it would have to be right under Borough Hall (the governmental building, not the train station) and the Brooklyn courts, which might bring about added political difficulty.

Andrew September 24, 2012 - 11:52 pm

It could avoid passing under Borough Hall, but it would unavoidably pass under Boerum Place. Not happening.

George September 24, 2012 - 4:10 pm

The Astor Place southbound platform is exactly one block away from the northbound 8 Street-NYU platform. I bet you can cut open the street, relocate the utilities and build a tunnel connecting the two.

Benjamin Kabak September 24, 2012 - 4:14 pm

That is a 100 percent waste of money considering you can transfer between the 6 and N/R at Union Square and Canal St. The point isn’t to spend money for the sake of spending money; it’s to identify areas that don’t otherwise have nearby transfers to make rides easier.

Bolwerk September 24, 2012 - 8:21 pm

Indeed. Those lines are simply parallel between their two transfer points anyway. And the R is parallel to the Lex pretty much from the South Ferry area to 23rd Street.

SEAN September 24, 2012 - 4:27 pm

Perhaps a connection between the F & PATH could be constructed at 14th or 23rd streets? Better yet, connecting PATH at W 4th Street makes more sence despite the PATH station is at 9th Street.

Alex C September 24, 2012 - 10:03 pm

What kind of connection? The stations are already connected. The F is the upper level and PATH lower level; it’s one entrance with separate turnstiles.

Nathanael October 3, 2012 - 11:14 pm

Fare integration? 🙂

Billy G September 24, 2012 - 6:12 pm

What about using the pre-assigned ROW between PATH on the west and Astor Place to connect the 9th St PATH to 8th St and Astor Pl underground? Not a free transfer, but make use of that ROW that has caused so much trouble over the years.

Henry September 24, 2012 - 7:58 pm

Here are my choices:

1. Herald Square/34th St to Penn Station
It would link the PATH to Penn, Seventh, and Eighth Avenues.

2. QBP to QP
They’re not that far apart, the area is poised to grow, and it provides a convenient transfer for those traveling within Queens.

The following aren’t really new transfers, but are to improve existing transfers.

3. Convert 74th St-Broadway on the 7 to an express stop.

It would make intra-Queens travel a lot easier, and the surrounding area is a strong, vibrant neighborhood.

4. Convert Woodhaven Blvd on the E, F, M and R to an express stop.

The Queens Center Mall, which is directly above the station, is a major retail destination, and is the most profitable mall per square foot in the United States. The surrounding area is also a large bus hub.

Henry September 24, 2012 - 8:31 pm

*on the M & R

Someone September 26, 2012 - 9:14 pm

1) “Herald Square/34th St to Penn Station” That one existed, to 7th Avenue,albeit without any free transfer, but was closed in the mid-80’s. 2) “QBP to QP” They are 3 blocks away, a long walk, and besides, QP is an underground IND station and QBP is an elevated IRT-BMT cross-platform transfer. 3) “Convert 74th St-Broadway on the 7 to an express stop.” You could just transfer at 61 St-Woodside to local. Not a big of a deal. Also, see the epic fail that is Mets-Willets Point when the MTA converted the original local station to an express one. Just my opinion. 4) “Convert Woodhaven Blvd on the E, F, M and R to an express stop.” See 3) above. Also, see Utica Avenue on the IND Fulton Line. That was what happened when they converted a planned local stop into an express stop.

Henry September 27, 2012 - 7:56 pm

Woodside is actually a lot less useful as an express than 74th – most LIRR trains skip Woodside, and you have to pay an additional fare to get to Penn.

Willets Point is more of a fail because it was converted solely for use during the World’s Fair, which was 70 years ago. It does handle game crowds very well, though.

Harold Square September 24, 2012 - 9:07 pm

It’s telling that the most painfully obvious deficiencies are with the poor old G train. It’s ridiculous how many lines the G crosses with no transfer, and until recently both terminals of the G were one stop short of other major transfer points (the decision to keep extending the G to Church Ave. was a relief to many…).

stan September 25, 2012 - 2:23 pm

if they could just make the two G transfer above metrocard transfers, it would be very helpful. is that too much to ask for us long-suffering G riders????

Someone September 26, 2012 - 9:17 pm

(J)(M Jamaica Line)(Z)(B)(D)(N)(Q)(R Montague St)(2)(3)(4)(5) That’s 12 lines. Not counting the other (R) crossing at 4 Ave, and the (M) transfer at Court Sq. It is sad that there are only 10 4-car trains on the (G).

Henry September 27, 2012 - 7:59 pm

There’s no transfer between the J/M(at least not on the Jamaica Line)/Z, D/N/Q, or 2/3/4/5. Which essentially reduces it to the E, M, 7, L, A, C and F.

It connects very badly to the BMT and IRT.

Nathanael October 3, 2012 - 11:15 pm

Well, that was Mayor Hylan’s original plan, to deliberately not connect it to the BMT and IRT. 😛

It’s a pain to fix now, isn’t it?

Rick A September 24, 2012 - 11:41 pm

What about a transfer between the 50 St 1 and the 50 St C/E? The underground connection is already there (basement of the Paramount Plaza office bldg) and it’s half the distance of the 41st transfer.

Andrew September 24, 2012 - 11:55 pm

The walk is marginally shorter (Broadway is barely west of 7th at that point) and it only connects to the locals. The existing connection is only between the southbound IRT and the northbound IND, and underpinning the two stations would be quite expensive (especially the bilevel IND station).

Henry September 25, 2012 - 11:06 pm

Because the stops before and after (42nd St, 59th St) all have connections between the Eighth and Seventh Avenue lines.

If you really wanted to change to the 1 that badly without a bad walk, you could do it at 59th.

The Broadway-Lafayette Transfer and the Evolution of the City’s Subway | mcnyblog September 25, 2012 - 3:53 pm

[…] MTA’s system. For examples of other transfer oddities and issues in the NYC subway system go  here. MTA New York City Subway Map via […]

David Brown September 26, 2012 - 11:26 am

This is an interesting snippet from The Gothamist. In the last four years, the MTA has created four new transit hubs like this one at Bleecker Street and hopes to continue creating more transfers in the future. “We’re putting a new program together for 2015 ? 2019 but you should know that this program is still unfunded,” Lhota revealed, but didn’t specify what projects would be covered if and when the MTA raises the capital. Could a connection to the Prince Street N/R station be next. In my opinion the 3 projects that make the most amount of sense are: 1: City Hall (R & N) meeting up with the J, Z, 4,5 & 6 trains. This would have the additional benefit of cleaning up perhaps the worst subway station in New York. 2: Hewes St (J, M Z) with Broadway (G). Brings the (G) 2 stops from Lower Manhattan. 3: Livonia Ave (3) With the L. Much discussed, requires no more.

Someone September 26, 2012 - 8:03 pm

What about between 49th or 57th Streets on the (N)(Q)(R) and 7 Avenue on the (B)(D)(E)?

An updated Night Map, more widely issued :: Second Ave. Sagas September 28, 2012 - 2:20 pm

[…] the long-awaited opening of the transfer between the uptown IRT at Bleecker St. and IND station at Broadway-Lafayette […]

john smith October 4, 2012 - 1:49 pm

Queensboro Plaza and Queens Plaza should definitely be connected, in conjunction with an extension of the G to Queens Plaza.
The eastern end of Queensboro Plaza is just 2 short blocks from the nearest Queens Plaza entrance, if you look on Google Maps.

Also, traveling between Astoria and Williamsburg, and other parts of Brooklyn, are an extreme pain. N to 7 to G, if you don’t want to go through Manhattan.

Chicken Underwear October 14, 2012 - 8:20 pm

I was just thinking that is is a short walk from the Hoyt St Station to the Jay St / Metrotech Station. As someone whose “home” station is Grand Army Plaza, it would be nice to transfer between the 2/3 and the A/F

Why the Livonia-Junius transfer matters :: Second Ave. Sagas November 2, 2015 - 11:36 pm

[…] New York City politics for that quirk of the subway system, and this spot has long been one of the most obviously lacking transfer points. For years, East New York and Brownsville residents have clamored for the transfer, and early this […]

Bob Sklar November 4, 2015 - 8:37 am

During the early 1960’s, wasn’t there a stairway and bridge leading from the Junius St. station to the Livonia Av. station without going down to the street, even though it was necessary to pay another fare? I seem to have memories of such a connection.

W Broadway Local November 4, 2015 - 5:56 pm

I never understood before updating the Westside of the Broadway BMT Elevated J/M/Z lines, they didn’t considered building a Broadway station and eliminating the 2 other stations? From there, they could have uses the money to develop a transfer between the G/J/M/ and Z lines.

Why the Livonia-Junius transfer matters - Second Ave. Sagas February 10, 2020 - 12:40 pm

[…] New York City politics for that quirk of the subway system, and this spot has long been one of the most obviously lacking transfer points. For years, East New York and Brownsville residents have clamored for the transfer, and early this […]

Henry Louis Robinson July 27, 2020 - 8:13 pm

Bowery J/Z to Grand St. B/D is one I’ve been saying for years. As it is now, to go from the Jamaica Line to the Grand Concourse D Line there is no way around having to make at least two transfers. After hours, having to wait for a second transfer can end up making you wait a total of possibly an hour. In 1997, the fare on the S. I. Ferry was eliminated on the principle of “one city, one fare.” That’s all fine and good…but what about “one city, one transfer?” This is not an unreasonable idea by any stretch of the imagination. I wish there was a way to bring this to the attention of the MTA Board. Of course, right now with this coronavirus pandemic and the resulting financial disaster the MTA faces, this idea sadly will have to wait until we have at least begun to seriously recover economically and the MTA begins cutting into its budget shortfall.


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