Home Subway History Musings on subway past and the BMT Nassau Line

Musings on subway past and the BMT Nassau Line

by Benjamin Kabak

In a rather absurd ranking of the New York City subway lines on Buzzfeed last week, the Z train didn’t score too well. It landed at 17 on the list, and the author was skeptical of its existence. Considering how little time the train spends in Manhattan and the path it takes as it winds through Brooklyn and Queens, many lifelong New Yorkers rarely find themselves riding the Z or even its more frequent brother the J. It’s such an odd little quirk of the subway system.

My first trip on the BMT Nassau St. line came years, and perhaps even decades, after my first subway ride as a baby. While growing up in New York through the 1980s and 1990s, not only were there few reasons to take the J, Z or M trains over the Williamsburg Bridge, but it also simply wasn’t a safe line. It went through bad neighborhoods and didn’t go anywhere a kid from the Upper West Side needed to go. When we would take family trips to the dearly departed Ratner’s, we switch at 14th St. to the F, and upon exiting at Delancey St., I’d catch staircases leading up to the mysterious J train. What was it? Where did it go?

I had no idea then of the train’s odd history and the way it mirrors the ups and downs of the city’s subway system. It began as a noble plan to link up various neighborhoods in Brooklyn via a series of loops through Lower Manhattan and has stumbled to its current iteration with a series of decrepit and little-used Manhattan stations, the oldest section of elevated track in the system and the sorry stations underneath Archer Ave. that aren’t nearly as old as they look. In between, it cuts through neighborhoods rapidly gentrifying that look nothing as they did 15 or 20 years ago.

When work began and planning started for the section of subway that became the BMT Nassau St. line, transit developers wanted to, for reasons not immediately obvious to us in 2014, create a series of Brooklyn loops, and those loops not only arrived but survived well into the second half of the 20th century. Before the tracks from Chambers St. to Canal St. were disconnected to the Manhattan Bridge, the line we know as the J train could have run through the Montague St. tunnel from 4th Ave. in Brooklyn, under City Hall and over the Manhattan Bridge and back to the 4th Ave. line. It also could have continued north over the Williamsburg Bridge and out to Queens. It skirted the edges of Manhattan, running close to more reliable and more useful subway lines.

After some time, these loops became less useful. After all, the service was highly redundant; no one needed to go from Court St. to De Kalb Ave. via Lower Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge, and the BMT found that direct service over the Williamsburg Bridge was far more in demand. Snip went the loops, and gone, these days, is the service via the Montague St. tunnel, a victim of the 2010 service cuts.

Today, the Manhattan stations along the Nassau St. line are in serious need of something. The Canal, Fulton and Broad St. stations are relatively fine. At Canal, at least, vestiges of the loops can be seen fleetingly from the platform as the decommissioned eastern set of tracks is visible. Chambers St. is an absolute ruin (but still with a provision for service over the Brooklyn Bridge), and the Bowery, one of Manhattan’s least used and most oft-forgotten stations, well, this photo of the area still in revenue service speaks for itself. Maybe one day, these stations will get their just dues.

To me, there’s something almost romantically nostalgic about the BMT Nassau St. line in all of its various iterations and conditions. It’s from a time when subway lines got built and when builders left in provisions for other connections to bigger systems and potential expansions. Maybe the BMT Nassau St. didn’t quite work; the best part of it today is a connection, established long after the fact in 1968, for the M up to Sixth Ave. But for many workers in Lower Manhattan, it’s opened up large areas in Brooklyn and Queens for an easy commute downtown. Its looks are deceiving; its ridership low; but it’s not the worst of anything. Somehow, it’s there, and that’s something we can’t take for granted.

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Stephen Smith January 30, 2014 - 12:40 am

Whenever I read books about the origins of the subway, I’m confused by the obsession with loops. Can’t remember which book, but the Port Authority (or someone?) had grand designs for a gigantic Manhattan commuter rail loop line as well that would’ve gone through NJ and the South Bronx.

Bolwerk January 30, 2014 - 9:13 am

Probably a convenient way to reverse trains without the confusion of having a terminal.

Tower18 January 30, 2014 - 10:51 am

In the old days before the Chrystie St. Connection, the BMT was sending a lot of trains over the Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, and Montague Tunnel. If you think about things from the perspective of the BMT (get people into Manhattan and get trains back to Brooklyn ASAP), the loops make perfect sense. It also allowed pretty significant operational flexibility, as, if constructed fully, trains from any BMT line could enter Manhattan and return to Brooklyn using any other BMT line, without reversing.

But yeah thinking about it post-unification, and also after Lower Manhattan’s decline, it doesn’t make as much sense.

Bolwerk January 30, 2014 - 11:19 am

Indeed, and even today a heavily used line segment doesn’t work well having a terminal built into it. Look at Penn Station.

Looks to me like loop arrangements allow getting another 5-10 trains on a heavily used segment. Probably critical back then.

Elvis Delgado January 30, 2014 - 12:27 pm

This is absolutely correct. I hope you were kidding when you said “transit developers wanted to, for reasons not immediately obvious to us in 2014, create a series of Brooklyn loops” and “no one needed to go from Court St. to De Kalb Ave. via Lower Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge”.

It IS obvious that having three stub-end terminals in congested lower Manahattan (for trains from the Williamsburg Bridge, from the Manhattan Bridge, and from the Montague Street Tunnel) is a total non-starter. There’s just one today (for the Williamsburg Bridge trains at Broad Street), which is acceptable, but two or three would never work.

The idea was never to travel from Brooklyn to Brooklyn via lower Manhattan. Rather it was to eliminate the inefficiencies associated with reversing trains and sending them back from whence they came.

Bolwerk January 30, 2014 - 12:56 pm

Oh, I agree with Ben’s sentence. It’s not immediately obvious to the current crop of planners that anything with more capacity than BRT should ever be built. :-\

Benjamin Kabak January 30, 2014 - 12:58 pm

Thanks, Bolwerk. You got it.

Elvis: It was a bit sarcastic considering today’s environment. The idea to loop through Lower Manhattan back to 4th Ave. is sound in theory, but ridership demand never lined up with the expectations for a variety of reasons (not least could be headways). So the routing from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn via the Williamsburg Bridge survives today.

Michael K January 30, 2014 - 5:26 pm

The more accurate statement is “that it is not immediately obvious to the current crop of political decision makers.”

Bolwerk January 31, 2014 - 12:35 pm

Not really, because many advocates are like that too. You would think groups like TA would be ravenously pro-rail, but they scarcely consider it.

Ben had it right the first time.

Spencer K January 30, 2014 - 12:44 pm

For all its faults, the WTC PATH station uses a loop. Aside from the poor folks trying to get off the train during the evening rush, it’s a very efficient design. Old South Ferry was like that as well, which is a shame they couldn’t replicate it in the new station.

ajedrez January 30, 2014 - 12:48 pm

Was, and still is, because it’s still in use post-Sandy.

Bolwerk January 30, 2014 - 12:54 pm

It doesn’t appear the 1 Train has the volume to need it these days.

FFS, South Ferry should be a stop on the way to Staten Island anyway.

Nathanael January 30, 2014 - 2:58 pm

Loops aren’t as important as they used to be, because it’s easier to “change ends” and run in reverse.

Back in the 19th century, “changing ends” was often a pain in the neck, and the operational value of loops was very high.

Henry January 30, 2014 - 4:28 pm

The old South Ferry loop wasn’t actually that efficient, since the whole “you can only disembark from the middle door of the first five cars” thing was such a slowdown on dwell time that capacity was actually reduced. I believe the new platform has a capacity of 24 TPH, which they have never actually needed to utilize to the fullest extent.

Hank January 30, 2014 - 12:49 am

The connection from the Williamsburg Bridge to the 6th Ave Line was part of the Chystie Street connection, built in the 1950s, not part of the original plan.

Frank B January 30, 2014 - 1:16 am

I read the entire Buzzfeed article and I can say that it is misleading at best, rubbish at worst. The ranking of the G train is laughable. When they say how excellent the E train is, highlighting its new R160 cars (as if some hipster writer would even now what that means) they use a stock photo of an R32, likely a C train, the last ranking on the list. Total rubbish article. And while I’ll admit that the Z train is the only train in the entire system that I’ve never been on, (save the H train) this entire list is utter nonsense and laughable, simply based on the very fact that the Z and J services are ranked #17 and #7 respectively, despite using the same exact lines (BMT Archer, BMT Jamaica, BMT Nassau) , terminal to terminal.

Chris C January 30, 2014 - 5:14 am

Oh FFS !

Buzzfeed articles are NOT meant to be taken seriously!

The Q train is cool because the letter Q is cool? You took that seriously??

They did one on the London Underground last week that was equally laughable.

These articles are a bit of fun and that’s all.

Do Americans not have any sense of humour??

Jackson Gold January 30, 2014 - 3:18 pm

“We…have no sense of humor that we are aware of.”
–Agent K in the MEN IN BLACK film

Eric Brasure January 30, 2014 - 10:07 am

The Z is also the only train line I’ve never ridden. I was going from my office to South Williamsburg once and transferred to the Nassau St Line, and ALMOST caught a Z. Only time I’ve even ever seen one.

John-2 January 30, 2014 - 2:10 am

The final section of the Nassau Loop seems to have been completed in order to justify the eventual elimination of the BMT’s Brooklyn Bridge service, but at a time (early 1930s) where commuting patterns already had changed, and running services to Lower Manhattan weren’t as important as they had been prior to World War I.

The line has served some unexpected uses — BMT Southern Division service really would have been fouled up after 9/11 if there hadn’t been another option to get trains to the financial district, with the line through Cortlandt Street shut down. But it’s usefulness remains a victim of the city’s central business district moving to midtown almost a century ago (and will likely remain that way unless at some far distant time in the future, the MTA opts to scuttle part of Phase IV of the SAS and route the line through expanded 10-car capable Nassau Loop stations, to access Brooklyn via Montague).

Frank B January 30, 2014 - 11:01 am

Agreed 100%. God knows the BMT Nassau Line is unfortunately a 6-station stub, yet there is excessive infrastructure built into the line; waiting for new life to be breathed into it again.

Build a 21st Century “Chrystie Street Connection” sending the J Train uptown via the IND 2nd Avenue Line after the Brooklyn Bridge, and utilize the connection to the IND Queens Boulevard Line (as we’ve noted on here before, the issue with the Queens Boulevard line is that it could potentially host another 10 tph local service, but it requires that trains be extended to 179th Street, a proper terminal, rather than being terminated at 71st Avenue-Forest Hills.) The Z Train, rush-hours only, will serve the traditional Nassau Street Line.

Meanwhile, the T train will operate from 125th Street-Harlem, sharing trackage with the Q until 63rd Street, be joined by the J starting at 55th Street, from Queens, giving Queens Boulevard riders direct 2nd Avenue Line service (this track connection to the IND 63rd Street tunnel is part of phase 3, and just isn’t utilized in current plans.) and going all the way down to the newly-extended BMT Nassau Street platforms, going onward to Brooklyn using the pre-exisiting Montague Street Tunnel, serving the 4th Avenue Line Local.

And, all of these connections could probably be done at far less cost than the planned stage 4. It’s really a no-brainer.

IND 2nd Avenue Line J Service from BMT Jamaica Line (Now Direct)
IND 2nd Avenue Line J Service from IND Queens Boulevard line (Now Direct)
BMT Nassau Line infrastructure no longer decaying and useless.
BMT Montague Street Tunnel running at capacity again.
BMT 4th Avenue line gets more frequent local service, direct connection to 2nd Avenue Line, (Park Slopers cheer!)

Everybody wins. If the MTA weren’t so hopelessly incompetent they would’ve thought of this years ago. Where art thou, Jay Walder?

Frank B January 30, 2014 - 11:40 am

Sigh… I obviously meant after the Williamsburg Bridge.

Justin Samuels January 30, 2014 - 2:12 pm

If Phases 2 and 3 of the Second Avenue Subway are built, there’s no need to build Phase 4 of the Second Avenue subway. All they have to do is refurbish the Nassau Street line and make sure it can accommodate 10 60 foot subway cars. The T could go from upper Manhattan down 2nd Avenue and down the Nassau Street line to Brooklyn. This could give 4th Avenue local residents access to Manhattan’s East Side.

Elvis Delgado January 30, 2014 - 4:08 pm

As I’ve posted elsewhere on this page, this is one of the best ideas ever. It is analyzed in some detail within the SAS Planning Documents and rejected in favor of a Water Street line with a stub-end terminal.

For some reason, this was thought to be more appealing, but it certainly ought to be revisited for at least TWO reasons:

1) The original study is more than a decade old and so much will have inevitably changed over time. Not the least of which, is the likelihood of having enough money to tunnel under Water Street.

2) There is totally unused trackage from where the Second Avenue line would turn into Delancey Street all the way to Chambers Street. The latter could become the full-time terminal for J/Z, while the T could serve Brooklyn. Simply lengthening the platforms at Bowery, Chambers, Fulton, and Broad has to be more cost effective than building entirely new stations at Chatham Square, “Seaport”, and Hanover Square, along with the new subway itself.

Henry January 30, 2014 - 4:31 pm

I believe the concerns involving the Nassau aligment for SAS is that it still leaves the Water St area without decent transit coverage (and much of the newer high rises are on Water). The MTA also did not want to deal with the operation headache that would’ve been building a flying junction with the Nassau St line.

I believe that, should a Staten Island subway ever be built, that the unused Montague connection to Nassau would be the perfect terminus, since it would give Staten Islanders a one-seat ride to both Atlantic Terminal and Fulton St.

Clarke January 30, 2014 - 4:38 pm

Regarding alternate alignments: http://web.mta.info/capconstr/.....endixb.pdf

public administration 1250 May 16, 2017 - 1:35 pm

now that the city is on firmer financial footing, why not have the j serve the brighton line as an express, terminating at either prospect park or kings hwy? it would not substantially interfere with b train operation, and would provide more service on this already overcrowded line.

Michael January 30, 2014 - 2:46 am

The Chambers Street station (among some of the older stations) shows the vitality and change that has taken place within the subway system, and throughout its history. Chambers Street was originally supposed to be a stub-end terminal for trains coming off of the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, as well as a terminal for LIRR trains that used the elevated cars and train tracks. Early on the plans were changed to also allow service over the Brooklyn Bridge, and service through the Montague Street tunnel to Southern Brooklyn. A station and track diagram of the station, and how over the time the various changes took place would be instructive.

A review of the history of the J and Z lines in Brooklyn would show how the various connections of ferry, bridge and elevated train routes have changed over time. From a ferry connection to Manhattan long before the Williamsburg Bridge was built, to its track connection over that same bridge, its connections to the Brooklyn Lexington Avenue Elevated line, and the Myrtle Avenue elevated line, the complicated junction at Eastern Parkway/Broadway Junction that connected the Fulton Street line, and the service to/from Canarsie segment before the 14th Street Subway line was completed – the whole line has a complex history. The East New York train yard and bus depot has a rather interesting history with its origins as trolley barn.

The Queens end of the line, at 168th Street, and the 1970’s inspired plans for the Archer Avenue subway – again shows some of the changes that has occurred over time. From the various train routes, and the route names and route numbers of the trains that plied those tracks over the decades – there’s a lot of rich transit history here.


Anon256 January 30, 2014 - 4:59 am

While it doesn’t show details at track level, this timeline of maps shows how the routes have changed over time. Also this 1914 map shows the originally-planned track layout of the Nassau St line, including the never-built connection to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Bolwerk January 30, 2014 - 9:37 am

The times on those maps really get me. New Yorkers in 1915 probably had faster trips than New Yorkers in 2014.

Nick Ober January 30, 2014 - 11:21 am

Anyone have any sense if this is true or not?

Bolwerk January 30, 2014 - 11:38 am

Rush hour J service seems to be 17m from Myrtle to Chambers, but that probably is express. Local is 24m in the evening. Maybe that’s not so different. Jamaica to “City Hall” says ~30m in 1914 though. Today the J Train seems to run about 50m to do that trip according to the schedule.

No idea if the map accurately reflects real running times, however.

Spencer K January 30, 2014 - 4:12 am

I grew up off the J train in Queens, and have seen a lot of changes. The demolition of one entrance under every El station, the demolition of the El section after ther Archer extension, how new the Archer stations were when first built. It’s a great line for the folks who live in central queens, and braved the scary rides through Brooklyn at all hours just to hang in manhattan in the 80s and 90s.

JMB January 30, 2014 - 10:10 am

I <3 this post and the Nassau street line. Its just chock full of history that wasn't painted/tiled over like all the rest. The fact that Chambers Street is so decrepit and yet has so much potential value amazes me every time I choose the J over the 6 to get to Canal. I can only hope that Phase IV routes the 2nd ave line into Nassau thus reactivating the eastern set of platforms, tracks as well providing a huge boost of money to rehab these stations (hopefully keeping to original styling).

Elvis Delgado January 30, 2014 - 12:41 pm

This makes too much sense for the powers that be to ever act on it. Not only would a connection from Second Avenue/Chrystie Street make use of a set of tracks and platforms that are totally built and totally unused – thereby saving the costs of building a new route under Water Street – but ‘T’ trains would have immediate access to Brooklyn, something is not even part of phase ninety-nine for the SAS.

jk January 30, 2014 - 10:11 am

great read and comments. as a daily M rider i love hearing about the history of this line

Alan Minor January 30, 2014 - 10:35 am

I have no illusions about the J being a great line:

– The eastern entrance at the Hewes St. station is blocked off. So if you are approaching the station from the east and spot or hear a Manhattan-bound train, you are compelled to sprint three blocks to the other entrance and scale two lengthy flights of stairs.

– The slowdown from Marcy Ave. or after you’ve crossed the Williamsburg Bridge and approach the Marcy Ave. station lasts five minutes. (Okay, that is a slight exaggeration.) The ascent from/descent into the Essex St. takes a while, too.

– Whenever I get on the platform of the Bowery St. station, I feel as if I’ve stepped into Jacob’s Ladder. I have been living in NYC for going on three years, and it seems as though the station has only gotten more blighted despite the station being under construction for years. The Chambers St. station is just as derelict if not more-so.

– The Canal St. platform always seems to be covered in mud, snow or a pool of water near the stairway exits.

With all of that said, I’ve grown to appreciate the J. The view while you’re on the Williamsburg Bridge is breathtaking, especially at sunset. And the line is relatively reliable and uncrowded.

My apartment in Williamsburg is equidistant from the L and JM lines, and I much prefer the J to the L. If my destination can be made without too much re-routing from both lines, I’ll take the J every time over the L even if it adds five minutes to my commute.

Phantom January 30, 2014 - 12:41 pm

Due to the extreme incompetence and inability to meet any semblance of budgets or timelines of NYC / NYS / MTA / Unions / Contractors at construction, if there is to be a full length Second Avenue subway it really has to connect to the existing Nassau Street line, to minimize tunneling and disruption.

This would of course also allow for routes that could go through the Montague Street.

And could create a reason to really fix up Chambers Street, as a main terminal for the Second Avenue Line?

Henry January 30, 2014 - 4:38 pm

“minimize tunneling and disruption”

That’s not actually true. A Nassau option would have to somehow build a flying junction around tracks in active service and would also be very shallow. The only really disruptive parts of SAS construction right now are the stations themselves, which would also be disruptive with a Nassau option, because presumably you’d have to shoehorn ADA access into the new construction.

Phantom January 30, 2014 - 6:12 pm

The SAS could merge into the Nassau Line at Bowery station, so there would theoretically need no new tunneling at all south of Bowery.

These would not be new stations, so there should be no new need to be ADA compliant (? )

This would give you connections to many other lines at Canal Street, Chambers Street, Fulton Street and if the SAS went through the Montague tunnel, beyond.

The savings on -NOT- building that 1.4 miles or so of tunnel would mean that the project gets done faster ( 99 years instated of 200 years ) and some of the money saved goes to fixing up Chambers St and making it an important station once more.

The folks on Water St ( where I work ) don’t get a train right outside but they also don’t get the disruption of construction and the train is close enough.

And the downtown tracks are away from a flood zone too.

This is the ultimate no brainer.

Henry January 30, 2014 - 6:55 pm

You’d need to make the Nassau St platforms ADA compliant, since the city is not going to do this on its own and federal money comes with strings attached.

A flying junction with the Nassau Line would involve lots of disruption to both the Nassau Line and the surface, and would be very expensive.

This would do nothing to serve underserved areas (which is the entire point of the SAS), and on top of that you’d be bottlenecking the SAS at DeKalb when it’s supposed to serve as a relief for the Lex.

The concern about flooding is irrelevant, since many cities that lie in flood-prone areas manage to run subway systems without much trouble.

BSS January 31, 2014 - 8:00 am

I agree SAS should ultimately be built into the Chambers Street Nassau line but building it in at Bowery makes a complex Chrystie Connection even more complex. I would either connect it at Chambers and run SAS through Chinatown/LES before merging with the F line north into the main 2nd Avenue stretch after 14th Street or connect SAS into the Nassau line before Essex merging into the F at Delancey for the same route through Alphabet City.

As is, SAS is dropping the ball on thousands in need of a closer stop in LES and Alphabet City. Any talk of servicing new areas should probably put about as much priority on the LES as it does the UES as far as this line is concerned. And I’m not so certain flooding is so irrelevant, seeing as the MTA has a $600 million tag for fixing the South Ferry station. Just know a Water Street alignment means more thought on protecting track from another potential storm.

Henry January 31, 2014 - 11:33 am

The LES was actually studied, and there was an alternate that utilized Avenue C in the LES. However, it was scrapped due to its impacts on travel time and cost (plus you’d probably avoid transfers at 14th, Houston, and Grand along the way, giving the SAS even less transfers than it already has)

ajedrez January 31, 2014 - 8:23 pm

How would it avoid the 14th Street transfer? I was under the impression that it would take Second Avenue-14th Street-Avenue C-Houston Street and come back west.

Phantom January 31, 2014 - 9:20 am

The point of the SAS is to serve the East Side of Manhattan.

In the Financial District, the proposed stops for the SAS are close to Broad / Fulton / Chambers St stations anyway. I know – my commute involves such a walk right now.

Right now, the people who live near Bowery and stations like that are underserved because the J train doesn’t go anywhere they need to go, unless they work by Wall St. Putting the SAS there will make such stations relevant for the first time in a really long time.

Tower18 January 31, 2014 - 10:50 am

The Bowery station is somewhat duplicative in that area anyway, again except for those headed downtown. Anyone living around Bowery is also a 5 minutes walk from the B/D at Grand, the 6 at Spring, and the F at either Delancey or 2nd Av.

Yes a 2nd Av line there would make the station relevant, but it isn’t necessary to make those areas -NOT- under-served.

Henry January 31, 2014 - 11:28 am

The only reason SAS is being built in the first place is to relieve the Lex, which is busier than most, if not all, of the American subway systems. This has been the overriding concern since the demolition of the Third Av El (which was very controversial because many were rightly concerned about the loss of capacity). Any extension through Nassau into Brooklyn would mean a hard cap on possible headways because of the busy DeKalb interlocking, whereas a Hanover Square terminus would be able to handle 24 TPH comfortably even without tail tracks (which the MTA is planning to build with an accommodation for a very far future Brooklyn extension, probably either to the Fulton local or the soon-to-be disconnected Atlantic Branch of the LIRR).

The J stations are not actually serving underserved areas; all stations south of the Bowery are a block west of the 7th Av Line and a block east of the Lex. Bowery isn’t even the most utilized station on the LES/Chinatown due to its remote location within the neighborhood; Grand is far more busy (which is why the SAS has always had a projected interchange there). Water St is much farther from the subway than Nassau St is. There’s a reason the M15 SBS is so heavily utilized that far east.

Even if the purpose of the SAS was to serve the East Side, Nassau is nowhere near the East Side, and rerouting would avoid major East Side neighborhoods such as Chinatown (which has moved east during the last two decades), the Seaport, and the Water St area.

Kid Twist January 30, 2014 - 1:35 pm

Before the Centre Street (later Nassau Street) Loop opened, the BRT essentially had two separate systems, one radiating out of Williamsburg and the other out of Downtown Brooklyn and Park Row. The loop probably made a huge difference in terms of operational efficiency by connecting the two systems. It also, as Ben noted, created flexibility — trains could use a variety of routes to reach the city. Even if no one rode all the way around the loops, the BRT/BMT could move passengers into Lower Manhattan via either the Montague Street Tunnel or the Manhattan Bridge. Alas, the entire line is a victim of Lower Manhattan’s decline as a commercial center.

My first ride on the Nassau Loop, oddly enough, came on a D (Brighton) train. Back in the late ’70s, whenever the Manhattan Bridge tracks were out of service for a weekend because of maintenance, the TA would run D trains into the Nassau Loop and onto the Williamsburg Bridge to a point just past Essex Street station. Then the train would reverse and head uptown to the Sixth Avenue Line via the K train’s leg of the Chrystie Street connection.

Bklyn January 30, 2014 - 4:39 pm

It is a shame that the old MJ line, connecting the Myrtle Avenue line to downtown Brooklyn was shuttered. The services would be useful now. I guess now that since Wall Street employment has shrunk, and the tracks have been reconfigured, that Broad Street to Canarsie would be a loser. I would hope that some day in the future, the M is connected from Metropolitan Avenue to 71st Street Continental Avenue giving the M a true loop.

public administration 1250 May 18, 2017 - 2:21 pm

MJ line was not able to handle the newer, heavier cars, so was demolished in 1969, rather than upgraded.
On a related tangent, the demolition of the old Culver Shuttle in 1975 precluded any routing from Chambers street to say, ditmas or kings hwy on the culver line.

QWERTY January 31, 2014 - 10:53 am

Here’s my idea…after the Houston St Station, the SAS will go down Forsyth, curved at Delancey and make a stop at Bowery using the abandoned southern platforms (if the line is coming in too deep, a new lower station would be built in its place). A new connection would be built to Grand St, to make up for the loss of the original plan to connect with the B/D.

The SAS would proceed on the abandoned tracks to Canal and make a stop there.

Then proceed to Chambers, where it would hook into the Eastern 2 tracks, necessitating the J to use the Western 2 tracks at all times.

Now where I’m not sure is south of chambers. Looking at track maps there’d have to be some reconfiguration there.

QWERTY January 31, 2014 - 10:53 am

Here’s my idea…after the Houston St Station, the SAS will go down Forsyth, curved at Delancey and make a stop at Bowery using the abandoned southern platforms (if the line is coming in too deep, a new lower station would be built in its place). A new connection would be built to Grand St, to make up for the loss of the original plan to connect with the B/D.

The SAS would proceed on the abandoned tracks to Canal and make a stop there.

Then proceed to Chambers, where it would hook into the Eastern 2 tracks, necessitating the J to use the Western 2 tracks at all times.

Now where I’m not sure is south of chambers. Looking at track maps there’d have to be some reconfiguration there to merge the SAS with the J.

Henry January 31, 2014 - 11:31 am

The problem is that this does not adequately serve LES neighborhoods, particularly Chinatown. The center of Chinatown is now arguably at Confucius Plaza, and most of the people using the Grand St station are coming from the south. Rerouting to Bowery instead of serving the neighborhood with stops at Chatham Sq and Grand St would just continue the overcrowded status quo that persists today (and would also not be useful for many people; many people would be stuck with using the M15 SBS to get to points within Chinatown and the Seaport)

The SAS is an East Side subway, not a Center St subway, and should be built as such.

QWERTY January 31, 2014 - 11:48 am

And like I said in another post, the current alignment proposed for the SAS will not serve the LES. It’ll be running along the western edge of the neighborhood.

To really serve the LES, a branch of the SAS needs to run down Avenue C and down East Broadway.

QWERTY January 31, 2014 - 11:56 am

The other point is that the idea of running the SAS down Centre is to save money.

Also, some added bonuses – connections to the lines at Canal, Chambers and Fulton, as well as access to the 4th Avenue line.

The current plans to Hanover have none of this.

QWERTY January 31, 2014 - 11:04 am

And to the comments about making a dent in subway access for the LES, the alignment for the current SAS wouldn’t do it.

What’s really needed is a subway down perhaps Avenue C, perhaps as a branch of the SAS below 23 st, then maybe curving under East Broadway and using the Worth St Line provision to connect with the F.


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