Home 7 Line Extension MTA promises to open 7 line extension by September 13

MTA promises to open 7 line extension by September 13

by Benjamin Kabak

So far, only Michael Bloomberg has ridden on the 7 line extension to 34st St. and 11th Ave. (Photo: Benjamin Kabak)

On an unseasonably warm Friday toward the end of his 12-year tenure, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a celebratory subway ride on the 7 train from Times Square to the station in progress at 34th St. and 11th Ave. Although the mayor had pushed to see the one-stop extension, funded nearly entirely through city money, open before he left office, the MTA couldn’t finish the project on time, and so his ride and subsequent press conference became a celebration in symbolism. The 7 line was supposed to open soon after Bloomberg rode off into the sunset, and he was content to smile for the cameras during his valedictory lap around the city.

“Today’s historic ride is yet another symbol of how New York City has become a place where big projects can get done,” Bloomberg said at the time. “This project is the linchpin of an ambitious transit-oriented, mixed-use development that is already transforming Manhattan’s Far West Side, and it demonstrates our Administration’s commitment over the past 12 years to invest in infrastructure that will allow our city to grow for generations to come.”

Since then, no one has gotten to ride on the 7 train since the MTA hasn’t been able to move past a few key problems. The long wait for revenue service, we learned today, should be over before summer ends. The MTA expects to open the 7 line extension by September 13 — presumably of 2015. As the agency has no plans to host a ribbon-cutting during the dog days of August, it’s possible that the new stop will open before September 13, but as they did with the Fulton St. Transit Center, it seems likely that Sunday, September 13 — Erev Rosh Hashanah — will be the big day for the mayor’s pet project.

It’s hard to view this as anything other than a relief. The MTA has the proverbial egg on its face due to its inability to get this project across the finish line until nearly 21 months after Bloomberg’s ride, and the project itself is marred by a costly game of chicken in which neither the city nor the MTA blinked over the $500 million cost-saving measure to cancel the plans for a second station at 10th Ave. and 41st. Though provisioning is in place for a side-platform station should the money materialize, there are no immediate plans in the works for anyone to fund or build this station.

In honor of the eventual opening, let’s take a look back at all the times the MTA promised to open the 7 line extension starting with the plan to build the Jets a new stadium atop the Hudson Yards and bring the Olympics to New York City. In 2005, as those plans percolated through MTA Board actions and various lawsuits, the MTA promised to open the 7 line extension before any potential Summer Olympics in 2012. Obviously, they missed that deadline.

In mid-2010 as work continued on the project, the MTA’s deadline had already slipped to June of 2013, but that was a short-lived target. By early 2012, MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu said the 7 line would likely be in testing by the end of 2013 and open for revenue service in 2014. In early 2013, Mayor Bloomberg threatened to push the 7 train himself if it meant running trains before he left office, and that is basically what he did.

During Bloomberg’s press conference, the MTA stated that they expected a summer 2014 opening date, but as we know, that too proved elusive. In January of 2014, the MTA predicated a late summer/early fall opening; in February of 2014, the MTA predicated a November opening; and in June of 2014, the MTA predicted an early 2015 opening, a timeline later firmed up in September.

It didn’t stop there. In December, the MTA discussed an opening during the second quarter of 2014, and in April, the agency pushed that back to the third quarter. And that’s where we stand now. Despite this tortured history, I wouldn’t bet against a September opening. The MTA is performing the final tests, and officials don’t usually set a firm date as they did today without ample faith in that decision. Still, stranger things have happened.

Ultimately, in a year or five years or ten years, no one will care that the MTA couldn’t open the 7 line extension on time, but residents along 2nd Ave. are rightly skeptical the MTA will deliver on promises to open that project by the end of 2016. Furthermore, politicians too are also skeptical — rightly or wrongly remains an open question — on the MTA’s ability to deliver. While delays are ultimately temporary, city pols are happy to use them as an excuse to keep badly-needed funding out of the MTA’s hands. Thus, as we did with the station at 41st St. and 10th Ave., we all lose. It’s just a few things to keep in mind as we hurtle toward September 13, the 7 line extension’s latest do-or-die day.

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George July 20, 2015 - 11:56 pm

Oops, a typo in the fourth paragraph.

“It’s hard to view this as anything other than a relief” should read “It’s hard to view this as anything other than a hoax.”

Bart July 21, 2015 - 12:28 am

Hopefully there’s someone over at the MTA taking notes as to what not to do when it comes time to open the 2nd Avenue line, especially if the main delaying factors involve incline elevators to boot!

Chris C July 21, 2015 - 6:23 am

The lesson with inclined elevators is not not to have them but to not fiddle with the specification and parts that work without problem elsewhere in the world.

Larry Littlefield July 21, 2015 - 9:26 am

Why does stuff that works in Europe, installed at fraction of the cost, not work here, at a multiple of the cost?

Chris C July 21, 2015 - 2:01 pm

Because New York ‘exceptionalism’ ??

Herb Lehman July 21, 2015 - 9:27 am

Right. September 13. Anyone here familiar with the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf?

AG July 21, 2015 - 9:44 am

As to the station at 41st and 10th…. A developer building one office tower is paying for about $200 million in upgrades to Grand Central. Why could there not be a special fund created by new development in the area of 41st and 10th. Every month a new multi million/billion dollar development is announced for Hudson Yards. I don’t see why it couldn’t work at 41st and 10th.

tacony July 21, 2015 - 10:58 am

Midtown East is an extremely desireable business district constrained by zoning where developers will gladly line up to pay $200 million for the chance to build.

Hudson Yards is an imagined future business district where the city and state have thrown tons of public subsidies to developers to get them to build. Huge difference.

Plus, the 7 extension is already funded by a TIF on future development at Hudson Yards. Throw in another “special fund” for the area around 41st and 10th?

Eric July 21, 2015 - 11:09 am

Hudson Yards is a significantly worse location (much further from most destinations in Midtown), and building on top of an active rail yard is a significant annoyance.

AG July 21, 2015 - 12:27 pm

you must have missed all the activity going on currently on the westside.

it will continue to move north.
also it’s not “imagined” any more. you realize thousands of blue chip jobs have already signed on there before the buildings are even done. it could still work. Two years ago they would NOT have gotten that $200 million for GCT improvements.

tacony July 23, 2015 - 10:26 am Reply
AG July 23, 2015 - 6:23 pm

That’s not new… There was a thing called a sever economic contraction that slowed everything… That doesn’t mean things aren’t happening and coming online.

Eric July 21, 2015 - 11:05 am

Actually, that’s a great idea. Upzone the area (5 minutes walk around 41st/10th), and require a payment to the MTA for every floor built over the previous maximum. Once the total sum collected exceeds the cost for the 41st/10th station (if it ever does), any further sums go to the MTA capital construction fund.

Sort of a parallel to how Hong Kong makes a profit on its transit system.

AG July 21, 2015 - 12:28 pm

yes – exactly.

Demetria July 21, 2015 - 10:33 am

And if the station is ever built, I imagine we’ll see at least a few years of weekend (and possibly even some weekday) truncations back to TSQ/42nd while the station is actually built. The shortsightedness is extremely frustrating.

APH July 21, 2015 - 11:52 am

Yes! No question that will happen if they ever built the other station.

Phantom July 21, 2015 - 10:46 am

Recently, when I read comments on my Ipad, I am involuntarily redirected to the App Store for some ” Draft Kings ” site.

Is anyone else having this issue?

Benjamin Kabak July 21, 2015 - 10:50 am

Yes. I’m aware of this, and I’ve addressed it in other threads. I’m working with my ad networks to resolve the issue. Please email me instead of leaving comments if you notice similar problems.

Phantom July 21, 2015 - 12:57 pm

Thanks Ben

This site, most certainly including the comments, is ” essential reading ” !

Wayne's World July 21, 2015 - 11:32 am

Now if only there was anyone who wanted to go to 34th and 11th Ave (other than out-of-towners headed to the Javits Center).

AG July 21, 2015 - 12:33 pm

Well considering the thousands of employees being added from Time Warner – Coach – SAP – huge law firms moving from the East Side – it makes perfect sense. Let’s not forget all the people who will want to go spend their big dollars at Neiman Marcus.

Alex July 21, 2015 - 1:07 pm

Yeah but a lot of those employees aren’t happy about it, me being one of them (Time Warner). Unless you take the 7 train or live in West Midtown, it’s a lousy location to get to. Anyone coming from Brooklyn will have to go up to 42nd only to come back down to 34th. I know that doesn’t change that lots of people will be making that commute, but it highlights the fact that this area would have been better built out as housing rather than commercial space. It would have made great use of unused capacity on the 7 train. Instead, it will be Manhattan’s only major business/commercial district located on the end of a subway stub rather than at the convergence of multiple lines.

AG July 21, 2015 - 1:16 pm

Well that’s life. Jobs move. It’s not like it’s moving to Kansas. Hey a lot of midtown employees are complaining that their companies are moving downtown too. Time Inc. is sending 300 IT related jobs to Sunset Park. Things change. In any event the reason it was built as a biz district is exactly because it was a blanks space. Easier to build modern office space.

Alex July 21, 2015 - 2:27 pm

Sure, I get all that. Time Warner was also considering NJ and CT locations so I’m grateful they didn’t go with either of those. Though I’d argue they raised the possibility of suburban locations as a ploy to ensure their sweet tax deal from the city. But that nods to the greater point I was making.

Hudson Yards is a master planned business district with the city working hard to get big tenants. But more than new commercial real estate, NYC needs housing. It particularly needs housing in places with excess commuter capacity, which the 7 train has on trains traveling opposite of the peak direction. But the city went out of its way to create an awkwardly located business district with debatable necessity that will add to crowding on the 7 train. Yes, there will be 20,000 housing units, but it could have been much more and with less effort and fewer tax dollars from the city.

AG July 21, 2015 - 2:39 pm

High income people have no problem finding housing in NYC. There would be very little housing built there for the average person. Just building over the yards alone puts the price up… That’s not including the views. It would be housing just like we see further uptown at Riverside Center in the 70’s.

Alex July 21, 2015 - 2:48 pm

More housing is more housing. Every wealthy person who rents there leaves an apartment open elsewhere for someone who makes a bit less, and so on and so forth. Plus, the city could require affordable units.

AG July 21, 2015 - 3:08 pm

Mixed use communities are what work best in a city like this. There is also a limit to people with money. The middle and lower classes are a bigger piece of the pie. Not much real “affordable” housing could be built there. It would end up with one of those with “20 percent dedicated to those making between 80 and 130% of AMI”. That kind of affordable housing is a joke. In any event – mixed use is the way to go. I don’t really get the complaint if companies are willing to take the space. No one is forcing them to move jobs there. New Jersey has millions and millions of square feet of empty office space in suburban office parks. All the tax incentives NJ has thrown at companies to move there hasn’t moved the needle.

Alex July 21, 2015 - 3:18 pm

It just doesn’t make sense from a planning standpoint. For office space, up-zone the east side and provide incentives (as they’re doing) for downtown, both of which have better transportation access. And of course mixed use is best. But I can’t understand the point of going out of your way to draw huge anchor tenants over there who likely wouldn’t leave the city anyway, as you note.

AG July 21, 2015 - 3:35 pm

Simply because the city needs more resiliency… Packing everyone into the same spaces doesn’t help. That’s why LIC and Downtown Brooklyn were sought out as office districts. Housing took over. Companies could have moved to those places but they didn’t (though tech companies are moving to DUMBO and the Navy Yard) – which is why even Citibank is selling their LIC tower… Large blue chip companies are moving to Hudson Yards though. So the dollars are making sense (pun intended).

Alex July 21, 2015 - 5:25 pm

Also Williamsburg and even Bushwick for some tech companies. But those are much smaller companies. Time Warner has 6000 employees in NYC. I’m perplexed at a plan that intentionally moves tens of thousands of workers to a relatively inconvenient location. Of course for most American cities any rapid transit stop is more than enough to justify such a big commercial development. But this is New York. Our business districts are over hubs. Even if they’d built out the 34th St transitway as someone else mentioned in this thread I’d be more on board. But it’s hard for me to understand the rational based on what’s there now. Just seems like the efforts could have been better focused. But, we’ve got what we’ve got and I’ll likely sign up for CitiBike to make make my commute slightly less terrible when we move.

AG July 21, 2015 - 5:51 pm

I hear you… but a hub (Penn Station) is three blocks away. I walk 8 blocks form the nearest subway station to my job now – cold/heat/snow/rain. Then to go to school after I have another crosstown walk since transferring would take too much time. 3 blocks would be a delight for me. I mean when I go to the Javits now I walk from Penn. Much easier walk than work or school for me right now.

SEAN July 21, 2015 - 1:31 pm

A friend of mine is having his job transferred to HY from the east 20’s & he lives in New Jersey. Needless to say he’s a bit less than thrilled, but he loves the company he’s with & will gladly suck it up.

Justin July 21, 2015 - 1:51 pm

If your friend lives in NJ and his job is moving to Hudson Yards that’s a significant upgrade for him coming from the East 20s. Penn and PABT are all closer to HY than the East 20s…even Path is.

SEAN July 21, 2015 - 4:46 pm

Well he takes the train from Garfield to Hoboken & then PATH. When the job relocates he will need to take the bus to PABT or transfer at Secaucus. I told him the latter option maybe better despite the required crosstown trek.

Guest July 21, 2015 - 5:29 pm

Crosstown trek or Citi Bike?

adirondacker12800 July 21, 2015 - 5:33 pm

With all those cubicles maybe he’ll be able to take the ferry from Hoboken.

SEAN July 21, 2015 - 7:42 pm

Well, the company my friend works for went from 200 employees to over 1000 within the last six months & is still ballooning. That’s why they are moving. I guess the incentives were too good to pass up. Cant say I blame them.

AG July 21, 2015 - 10:59 pm

Not sure what you mean by incentives… Companies get tax credits to move to the area below Chambers St… Not Hudson Yards though.

Chris C July 21, 2015 - 11:31 pm

The incentives may be coming from the people they are leasing space from not necessarily tax credits.

So a lower rent for signing up for a longer lease period, contribution to moving and fit out costs etc

Not all incentives are tax based.

AG July 22, 2015 - 6:12 pm

Ok… But is that confirmed or just speculation? What’s not speculation is that the buildings under construction are almost full already (news from just today)… Coach even bought their portion of the space… I believe Time Warner did as well.


Chris C July 22, 2015 - 8:35 pm

I was talking in generalities rather than in relation to a specific company.

Stephen Smith July 21, 2015 - 2:22 pm

Tolerable (although a pain on really hot or really cold or rainy days) if you live near a NJT station, a completely clusterfuck of three-seat-ride commuting pain if all you’ve got is the PATH. I guess you could take a ferry.

Getting from Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg or Bushwick to Hudson Yards is also not going to be very fun.

Alex July 21, 2015 - 2:32 pm

If only the 7 extension kept going down the west side and connected to the A/C/E/L at 14th. I’m sure it would only cost 4 or 5 billion and take 15 years to build it once they started construction.

A more practical answer for me may be a CitiBike membership so I can take a couple avenue ride rather than going north to ultimately go south via the 7.

SEAN July 21, 2015 - 5:03 pm


If you transfer in Secaucus, that leg is pretty short – about 9-minutes or so. about 11 or 12 if you include the going up & down part. The actual wait is virtually nothing.

SEAN July 21, 2015 - 5:12 pm


Going through Secaucus isn’t that bad once you know the trick of sliding the ticket in the gate. It’s only 12-minutes to penn including the up & down dance. Taking the bus in each day is a lot harder despite the one seat ride into the PABT.

AG July 21, 2015 - 2:25 pm

From NJ? He would have have an easier commute I would think. If he gets out at Penn he walks 3 blocks… Same if he takes a ferry.

adirondacker12800 July 21, 2015 - 3:17 pm

1 World Trade Center, 2 WTC etc are at the terminal for the E and PATH. Times Square is at the terminal for the 7. The Googleplex is a block away from the terminal for the L.

Alex July 21, 2015 - 3:20 pm

All of those terminals are also served by other lines running through. Hudson Yards will ONLY be served by the 7 terminal, at least directly.

Boris July 21, 2015 - 4:11 pm

The solution for those coming from Brooklyn, other than a new subway line, is a real busway (or even better, light rail) across 34th, with a full pedestrianized block between 5th and 6th. A transfer, but an easy one. Unfortunately NIMBYs killed that project, and all we got was SBS.

SEAN July 21, 2015 - 4:52 pm

A joke for all SAS readers…

What makes up two thirds of Select Bus Service?

AG July 21, 2015 - 5:46 pm

Good point. Talking of cross town light rail… Anyone know the status of the one proposed for 42nd?

SEAN July 21, 2015 - 7:57 pm

I don’t know, but that idea does peak my interest. What I would like to see is a bidirectional service on 34th & 42nd & not just on 42nd street. This way all important midtown sites are served from the UN to Javits on a single line. Plus by having it biderectional, passengers could travel the shortest route to wherever they needed to go.

Brooklynite July 21, 2015 - 8:09 pm

If the 7 went to Hoboken, Hudson Yards would be much more accessible for New Jersey residents. But for now, we’re stuck with a large office district above the terminal of a line that requires at least one transfer to get almost anywhere. Great planning! Building Giants Stadium above the railyard would have made more sense.

AG July 21, 2015 - 11:04 pm

It’s really that difficult for you to walk 3 blocks from Penn? Really? Wow! In any event – it was the Jets stadium that was proposed. Which was indeed a ridiculous idea. Comparing the economic impact of that – with what is happening is more ridiculous though.

Brooklynite July 22, 2015 - 10:34 pm

The walk isn’t that difficult for most non-elderly people, but it’s certainly to Hudson Yards’ disadvantage to have the rapid transit they do compared to Downtown or Midtown East. Having a major commercial district served by a single subway line was tried, in London at Canary Wharf. The DLR and Jubilee have proved so insufficient that Crossrail is being built there. Why repeat the same mistake twice?

AG July 22, 2015 - 11:29 pm

I doubt many elderly people will have much reason to go there…
The buildings currently being constructed are almost full in terms of future tenants… So those 3 blocks don’t seem like a disadvantage to those companies locating there. That said – I’m sure many who can transfer to the 7 (which are many options) – will.


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