Home Manhattan A South Ferry reopening sooner or later

A South Ferry reopening sooner or later

by Benjamin Kabak

Debris from Sandy remained draped over the South Ferry sign last month. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

It’s been three and a half months since Sandy stormed through the city, and the MTA is still hedging its bets on South Ferry. A month ago, I toured the destruction, and today, MTA interim Executive Director Tom Prendergast took questions from the City Council on the agency’s plans. The MTA wants to restore some service in the South Ferry vicinity within the next two or three months but feels a full station rebuild will take two or three years. And there’s still no set plan for what’s next.

The news coming out of the City Council hearing is vague, but that’s because Prendergast’s comments were vague. Downtown Express trumpets a grand reopening by the end of 2014 while both the Express and The Wall Street Journal talk about a staged opening. Here’s how, according to The Journal’s Ted Mann, it all went down today:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority could begin a “staged reopening” of the South Ferry subway station in lower Manhattan as soon as two to three months from now, the agency’s transit chief said Tuesday. Full restoration of the station – the terminal of the No. 1 train, which was destroyed by flooding from superstorm Sandy – is still expected to take as long as three years, said Thomas Prendergast, the MTA’s acting executive director…But with commuters, particularly those coming off the Staten Island Ferry, still struggling with the loss of a major transit link, the agency cannot wait that long, Prendergast said.

One option the MTA is now considering: reopening the old loop-shaped South Ferry station to passengers…The agency is considering whether it could reopen that old platform to customers in order to provide limited service to South Ferry, Prendergast said. “In the next two to three months we want to get it up and running,” Prendergast said, saying it would be “unacceptable” to make commuters wait until the full station rebuilding is finished.

After his remarks, which came during an appearance at the City Council’s Transportation Committee, Prendergast backed off that timetable, saying he would offer no estimate of when service could be restored. But a firm plan was expected to be completed in the next several months, he said.

The MTA later stressed that the two-to-three month timetable was not really on the table, and even the reactivation of the old South Ferry loop station — if everything were to go according to plan — would take longer than that. Rather, they hope to have a plan for reactivation within the next two or three months. (For what it’s worth, there is another report on SubChat about some work quietly taking place at the old South Ferry loop, including some tiling and freshening up.)

So basically we know what we already know, and we don’t know much new. The MTA still doesn’t have a concrete idea of how to restore service to South Ferry any time soon; they could look at reactivating the loop despite some challenges there; and they want to harden the new station as they rebuild it. It might be mid-May before the public even sees a rebuilding plan or it may be just months until some service starts up again. Either way, Sandy hit in late October, the South Ferry has been without train service since then.

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John-2 February 12, 2013 - 2:29 pm

There was a (admittedly second- or third-hand) report over on the SubChat board today that MTA elves are re-tiling parts of the upper SF station. Make of it what you will.

Jerrold February 12, 2013 - 3:41 pm

Sounds like good news.
They would not be crazy enough to waste employees’ salaried time on re-tiling a station that was STILL classified as permanently decommissioned.

Jerrold February 12, 2013 - 3:45 pm

P.S. I would hope that, if they DO reopen the old loop station, that they do NOT restrict its use to weekdays. When the weather warms up, the Staten Island Ferry will go back to being a very popular ride on the weekend, for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Someone February 12, 2013 - 3:42 pm

Hmm, could it be new tiles?

Or are these installations that were put in in 2010 or so, before Hurricane Sandy?

Jerrold February 12, 2013 - 3:49 pm

In 2010, that station had been already closed up.
The new station opened in 2009.
And anyway, why would they have bothered to re-tile a station that (at that time) was supposed to be permanently closed?

Someone February 12, 2013 - 3:57 pm

The MTA has a propensity to spend money on things that don’t really need to be done.

D in B February 12, 2013 - 4:14 pm

$600 million is a crazy amount and demands an impartial outside bid for reconstruction.
The MTA would NEVER allow it…

Someone February 12, 2013 - 9:28 pm

It’s important to waterproof the station, riiight?

Berk32 February 12, 2013 - 4:41 pm

2-3 months… yet they still can’t say which station they’d be using?

David February 12, 2013 - 5:42 pm

It’ll be interesting to see how they do it (re-open the loop station), three retail stores look like they’re going to open up soon in the old entrance from the ferry terminal. Can the old loop be accessed from the new terminal?

John-2 February 12, 2013 - 6:05 pm

Yes, by way of a door at the front of the station. That’s also the area used for the station’s makeshift access point just before new SF opened, so it could be re-established as the entryway by widening the opening, even it’s never going to be ideal for those moments when a train’s arriving just as passengers are disembarking the ferry.

Jerrold February 12, 2013 - 6:11 pm

When the South Ferry loop station finally reopened after its post-9/11 closing, there was a new entrance created for it, a little bit east and north of the ferry terminal.
Perhaps they are planning to put back street access to THAT entrance.

Jerrold February 12, 2013 - 11:10 pm


When the South Ferry loop station finally reopened after its post-9/11 closing, there was a new entrance created for it, a little bit east and north of the ferry terminal.
Perhaps they are planning to put back the street access to the station by reconstructing THAT entrance.

BBnet3000 February 12, 2013 - 11:33 pm

How much demand is there actually for the 1 at South Ferry that cant be filled by the R from Whitehall?

I guess this goes to show the lack of transfers of both lines though. Theres nothing to go between any other line and the 1 until 42nd st, and the R doesnt connect to any of the west side lines downtown, except at Whitehall (with the damaged SF).

Frank B February 12, 2013 - 11:53 pm

Again, if the moronic MTA simply used the already-completed, yet unopened passageway between the BMT Broadway Line and the IND 8th Avenue Line built as part of the Fulton Street work. (R and E Trains, Respectively).

Then there would be decent access to the west side via the IND 8th Avenue Line, and rebuilding the South Ferry Loops in the interim would be highly unnecessary considering its cost-effectiveness at that point; by connecting to the E at the World Trade Center, access to the West Side becomes far easier; God knows that both the R train and E Train have the capacity; push come to shove, they might even consider (*shutter*) running more R Trains!

Berk32 February 13, 2013 - 12:10 am

It’s completed? I was under the impression that it wouldn’t be until the PATH complex was done.

The Dey Street tunnel is done – but that’s an out-of-system tunnel from the R to the Fulton St complex.

Someone February 13, 2013 - 7:53 am

The E doesn’t have capacity for many more passengers during rush hours. It would be nice if the MTA opened the passageway during off-peak hours, however. The MTA is actually being wise by keeping it closed.

Benjamin Kabak February 13, 2013 - 9:25 am

Not true on either front. The E at its southern end has capacity. But that’s neither here nor there as there is no current existing passageway between the R and E at Fulton St. The Dey St. Passageway doesn’t connect those two.

Someone February 13, 2013 - 10:58 am

Not exactly true- according to a NY Times report from 2007, the E train seems to be at 100% capacity. So unless ridership has declined, there isn’t much space for R train riders traveling on the E unless they’re traveling south of 34 Street- Penn Station.

The WTC-Fulton center passageway is under construction.

Benjamin Kabak February 13, 2013 - 11:01 am

You are talking about a.m. northbound/p.m. southbound capacity between the World Trade Center and points serviced by the E along Manhattan’s West Side. That part of the E train is not at or above capacity.

Someone February 13, 2013 - 11:03 am

Oh, OK. Got it.

John Doe February 13, 2013 - 10:27 am

China is building ENTIRE subway systems overnight but it takes us YEARS to reopen ONE station??? proof positive the US is on the decline, oh well, seems the only news we’re really concerned about is who bought out Twinkies snack cakes so we can have them on the shelves again…

Berk32 February 13, 2013 - 10:49 am

It’s easy to get things done when you have no work regulations

Someone February 13, 2013 - 11:01 am

It’s easy to get things done when you have crap mass-produced in China. For example, Beijing has its own company that mass-produces parts for its metro system.

Anyway, between 1900 and 1940, NYC was like Chinese metro systems iare today.

Matthias February 13, 2013 - 11:16 am

Maybe we should focus on our rail industry instead of our auto industry.

Nathanael February 13, 2013 - 12:35 pm

Uh… yeah. The US was the world leader in the railroad industry until we allowed it to go to pot in the 1950s. In the 1970s we lost most of the railway manufacturing companies (rolling stock, locomotives, signalling, even track). Nobody seemed to pay attention.


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