Home 7 Line Extension A brief thought on ferry service and 41st St.

A brief thought on ferry service and 41st St.

by Benjamin Kabak

The proverbial ship has long since sailed on a 7 line station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. in the foreseeable future. While the provisioning exists for the MTA to construct two side platforms at the spot when the money and the will to build materialize, the 7 line extension will open at some point this year without that station. It’s just another in a long line of missed opportunities that plague the history of the New York City subway system.

With that in mind, consider the news of the first intra-Manhattan commuter ferry. It will not be subsidized by the city and will operate between the Far West Side and Lower Manhattan. The Post offers up a short bit on this new service:

The first commuter ferry to travel within Manhattan on the Hudson River will launch next week to serve residents of midtown’s transit-starved Far West Side. The westside Ferry boats will travel between West 44th Street and the World Financial Center every 15 minutes during the morning and evening commutes.

The New York Water Taxi service kicks off Monday with a week of free rides. After that the price will be set at $8 for round trip — but frequent users will get a discounted rate…The company hopes to get sponsorships from real estate developments on the Far West Side, as well as Lower Manhattan.

Even with an eventual bulk discount, that $8 fare is steep for intra-Manhattan transit. When the 7 line extension opens, riders closer to 34th St. will be able to access the subway system with the swipe of a MetroCard, but this ferry terminal at 44th St. serves a growing area that doesn’t have easy subway access. Imagine though if a subway stop were months away from opening at 41st and 10th Ave., and think — but not too hard — about why the city and MTA had to fight over $500 million.

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BRIAN BERKE May 14, 2014 - 1:25 am

‘to serve residents of midtown’s transit-starved Far West Side’

An interesting quote. If instead of extending the 7 train a light rail had been built linking Penn Station along the High Line it could have been extended over the highway and down the waterfront to Battery Park City for a fraction of the cost of a subway. A missed opportunity that the anti Light Rail city administration lost in favor of a rails to trails elevated partk.

Benjamin Kabak May 14, 2014 - 9:15 am

I don’t have this at my fingertips, but I don’t believe the High Line was wide enough for modern light rail passenger service without some extremely costly (economically, politically) land acquisition and eminent domain. It wasn’t impossible, but not that practical.

Let’s talk instead about light rail down the West Side Highway. It’s wide enough.

lawhawk May 14, 2014 - 9:34 am

It wasn’t necessarily the width of the High Line, but the structural integrity of the elevated line. It would have required significant work, and it still crosses through/between/and over other buildings.

Light rail down the West Side Highway would be a big boost, and the best analogy is how San Francisco redeveloped their waterfront after taking down the elevated Embarcadero. Their light rail line started with using vintage cars, and it’s a huge tourism draw too. We’d still have to address where/how the line would be served (where to position the yard/mechanical systems), and Sandy revealed the vulnerabilities that would have to be addressed by building along the waterfront. Those aren’t insurmountable challenges, but it would definitely boost West Side transit options (and could potentially get the support of Speaker Silver, who controls the Assembly with an iron fist).

Chris May 14, 2014 - 9:55 am

If I recall right, the high line was wide enough for 2 freight cars for most of its length. Therefore, it would have been wide enough for light rail cars. The problem would have been setting up boarding platforms. It would have been easier to build an elevated line – something which is taboo in this modern age.

Lawhawk makes a great point – build the light rail line at ground level, in the middle of the west side “parkway” – and model it on San Francisco’s Market Street-Embarcadero line which runs historical trolley cars in their original livery. (SF’s weather makes these non-air conditioned cars comfortable for most of the year. NYC might have problems in this regard.)

Kuvonn May 14, 2014 - 1:40 am


An $8 ferry to travel all of what, 4 miles tops?

A distance I can probably do on my bike in less time than the boat will and for no money, serving riders in arguably the emptiest part of Manhattan.

We should have a big ribbon-cutting ceremony with Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and members of the local Community Board to celebrate this highly beneficial and useful new transit link, and we could invite the three people who will use it too!

vanshnookenraggen May 14, 2014 - 2:59 am

Seriously just get a CitiBike.

AG May 14, 2014 - 6:30 pm

I think the point is that it gets no public money… so the politicians wouldn’t be there to “have a party”. The ferry company is looking for real estate companies to help pay for it. Why should we care if our tax dollars are not paying for it???

Adam May 14, 2014 - 7:04 am

Maybe the Water Taxi lobbied to stop the 42nd & 10th station to get more business.

BruceNY May 14, 2014 - 7:43 am

Does anyone know if the Hudson Yards developers have had to contribute any money at all towards the construction of the 7 Line extension? Wouldn’t it make sense as they stand to reap billions of profits in the long term. Couldn’t they fund the cost of a 10th Ave. station?

lop May 14, 2014 - 2:46 pm

Aren’t they leasing the air rights from the MTA for one billion dollars over 99 years? Do they give the city anything? Are the tax breaks they receive from the city anything out of the ordinary for large new construction in Manhattan?

Others in the area benefit greatly from the line extension too. A property tax surcharge or real estate transfer tax surcharge for properties within a quarter or half mile of the new stations might better catch them too.

John T May 14, 2014 - 7:51 am

Am I reading this wrong, or does this new service seems more like a connection with the existing NJ Ferry so their riders can complete a trip downtown? That makes more sense to me, these riders are starting from the West side and currenly must use a bus to get anywhere. Still, $8 is steep.

lop May 14, 2014 - 2:47 pm

None of them are a mile from the subway. They could walk.

For the few that take taxis, maybe the ferry is more attractive.

AG May 14, 2014 - 6:32 pm

yeah – I thought the same thing… this is more for ppl who would take a taxi… which would be more expensive anyway.

R2 May 14, 2014 - 9:10 am

No subsidy from the city? Fine, go right ahead. Not p-ssing away the public’s money is no problem. Just don’t come back hat in hand asking for support down the road. Obviously, the better recourse is to Citibike down (as has already been stated).

John-2 May 14, 2014 - 9:11 am

My guess is this isn’t going to last very long without a subsidy, unless Manhattanites west of the Port Authority have reached the income level where $2,000 a year to commute downtown and back is just a drop in the bucket.

AlexB May 14, 2014 - 11:56 am

Between this Water Taxi route and the MTA’s new west side bus (Columbus Circle to West Village via 11th & 12th), there seems to be no shortage of ideas to serve the far west side poorly. I never understood why they can’t just run a bus up and down West St every 10-15 minutes that terminates at Columbus Circle and Fulton Center and makes stops every 10 blocks or so. Guess that’s too obvious. Even if you built out separate stopping area that allowed the bus to stay out of the way of traffic, it wouldn’t cost that much money. There’s obviously underserved ridership over there that would at least support a bus.

John Doe May 14, 2014 - 5:40 pm

Ben – What are the chances of a station at 10 Ave actually getting built??? Is it totally a lost cause? or is it still being talked about as feasible? it would be really nice to have that station

Benjamin Kabak May 14, 2014 - 5:42 pm

No one is fighting for it.

As a comparison, the express tracks on the lower level for the 4/5 at 59th St. opened 44 years after the station itself.

John-2 May 14, 2014 - 7:13 pm

The city did fare better with 23rd-Ely on the E/F (now E/M), and the BMT was able to squeeze Lawrence Street (now Jay St.-Metrotech) in on the R after that line opened through downtown Brooklyn.

So fast corrections to missing stations isn’t unprecedented — but it has been a long, long time since something like that happened (and the good thing is at least at the outset, they could fix the error with little rider inconvenience by doing nighttime/weekend work, because as long as it’s mainly a business destination, Hudson Yards will be more of the Monday-Friday spot for its riders, and the 7 could be cut back to Times Square during off-hours to get the work done).

Alon Levy May 15, 2014 - 12:43 pm

It’s easier to build the 10th/41st station than the other stations, since it’s possible to just cut the 7 back to Times Square until the new station opens. Hudson Yards is not going to have enough development to justify a station anyway; 10th/41st has a lot more next to it.

AG May 15, 2014 - 8:09 pm

“not going to have enough development to justify a station anyway”? by what measure?

al May 16, 2014 - 12:32 pm

It might be possible to build the 10th Ave station with minimal service disruption.

Sink 2 shafts (you’ll need 2 for station access/vent plant anyway).
During Late Night and Weekends, excavate starter caverns using drill, cut, and hydraulic fracture methods (no explosives) at the extreme ends of the station footprint. The use steel plates and framework and existing precast tunnel liner to shield the tracks and associated equipment.
Use modified tunnel expansion machines to excavate and line the the rest of the cavern.

Once the cavern is fully excavated and lined, you remove the precast tunnel liner (and excavating machinery) and install the rest of the station equipment, structures and finishes.

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