When will Phase 2 of the long-proposed Second Avenue Subway happen? How will the process of building Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway affect future projects? How come the system doesn?t work? Will they fix the system?
The names pac, welcome to this article on the Second Avenue Subway, and the MTA as a whole, let?s talk about it!
When talking about the Second Avenue Subway, there is a very long story (and a lot of history to cover) behind how it came to be. I recommend watching this video by the MTA on the historical aspect of things:
Credits to the MTA for making this amazing video on the opening day of Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway. If you want to skip to the history part, the timestamp is exactly at 1:00. You?re welcome.
Alright, now that you have (hopefully) watched that video, you now know what the historical conditions were that caused this project to stay on the drawing boards, get shelved, brought back to life, get shelved again, then be resurrected once again, and the plans the plans finally have come to fruition (a little bit later than expected).
Let?s actually say that even before the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opened, the 7 Train extension was already open for 2 years (in 2015) before Phase 1 opened in 2017. The 7 Train extension was essentially a one-stop extension from Times Square-42nd Street to 34th Street-Hudson Yards, which essentially connects Times Square to the West Side of Manhattan (which was in desperate need of service, and even with the 7 train there, it isn?t properly served well). Let me also tell you that these stations are the only stations in the entire system that looks absolutely different from all other existing stations. More on that later.
The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opened to much frenzy, as most New Yorkers during that time thought that this mythical line would never see the light of day, however they were wrong. It opened in a grand fashion, and even Governor Cuomo was there to meet and greet everyone on the very first day. Now let me ask you something, why the hell would he care about some opening and champion the project claiming it?s something that he did, when in reality this whole line was planned way back when? If you guessed because he wants to gain support from this, you?re absolutely right. Listen, the Governor wouldn?t even give a damn about the Subway System, let alone ride it. Why am I blaming the governor for this? True to the word, he plainly doesn?t care about the dilapidated system. How can you manage the MTA in future projects if you can?t properly construct all the basic infrastructure even needed to begin? How? You tell me. And oh boy, how can you explain all the massive, astronomical costs that are being projected by the MTA right now on all these future ?projects?, billions upon billions of dollars, all of which are to build meager extensions from already existing lines, such as the Red Hook Extension, the 7 Train Extension or even the QueensRail extension? It is embarrassing for us New Yorkers to know (or not know) that the thinking of the Subway is that it is something that just exists, is degrading. Our vision has been getting smaller and smaller to the point where we cannot see the original vision anymore. This I can say is true. We need people who have a large vision in our system, not a small one.
If we look at other countries? costs, their efficient allocations for resources, and the management for their rapid transit expansions, it is unparagoned compared to our inherently erroneous and disorganized, slipshod management and administration that has been perpetuating physically through the way the MTA runs the entire subway system. Trains have little coordination and synchronization (that was a jab at the fact that ?we don?t exactly know where the train is? but the point still holds up since ?bunching? occurs many times), the signalling system is well-over 100 years old, and when something does happen, the effort to clear the situation out is usually enervating and the solutions usually aren?t very punctilious and they employ these ?quick-fix? methods that usually doesn?t contain any sort of assiduous value to them. The usage of CBTC on the L and 7 trains is the cynosure for Byford (the president of the MTA) right now, as this program is being implemented into other lines in the future, and while it is sad to see some of the older trains go, this is something that is not parsimonious and it takes a lot of acumen and moxie to get this done, for the future to enjoy. We must make sure that this work is done so that we can help serve, give new options to, and bring new transit to more people in the city.
Let?s now talk about the Second Avenue Subway. Phase 2 is supposedly the ?easiest? part of all the phases in the Second Avenue Subway, but why then does it cost so much? Will this ruin the auspicious grand plans of things we might see in the future? Well, let?s look at the original plans for Phase 2. The plan, of course, continuing from Phase 1 (which was from Lexington Avenue 63rd Street as a reconstructed station to 96th Street in the Upper East Side) which is 3 stations. This took 10 years to do. Phase 2 extends the Q train three stops upward to 125th Street, where it meets up with the 4, 5, and 6 trains, as well as providing an inter modal connection to the Metro-North Railroad. This also took 10 years to do. 20 years for 6 subway stops and they call that an achievement. Wow. Yeah, let?s just disregard the fact that the first subway line, as said by Stuart Winchester in Guess What New York? You Still Don?t Have a Second Avenue Subway- ?Workers hammered out the first subway line? 28 stations below the subterranean tangle of utility pipes along a 9.1-mile route from City Hall up to 145th Street on the west side in four years and seven months? the whole project cost, in today?s dollars, about $1.25 billion, or roughly $45 million per station.? Compare that to today?s Second Avenue Subway, about 4.45 Billion for Phase 1, and Phase 2 shatters that record, with about 6 billion in total.
Why does it cost so much? Why am I asking all these questions? Well, I?m trying to find the answers to them. Money, that is the desideratum for everyone. The money is what drives these projects. Without the funding they cannot start. Right now, the MTA is being really querulous about it. Of course, everyone agrees that these projects cost too much, and it impedes anything that can be done in the future (future 2nd Avenue Subway phases, Triboro RX, Red Hook Extension, etc). The fact of the matter is this, with all those projects, they are small yes, but the money and funding is the exact reason why they are small. There is a correlation between why so much money is being used to build these new stations, to the size and accessories located within the stations themselves.
Take a look at how enormous the station really is. It feel like you?re in an airport if anything. Let the 7 Train extension speak for itself.
What they need to do is split up the sector of the Capital Construction, the ones who manage these expansion projects, and that team also has to find ways for alternative funding methods. Look at the 7 Train extension, which opened back in 2015. That extension was financed 100% by city thru bonds that were backed by increase of real estate value of extension. Also it was backed by Bloomberg, but that?s another story. If we find alternative methods for funding these massive projects, I believe it can get done quicker. We need to take control of how things are managed in the construction sector of the MTA. We would probably need more thru bonds passing through the State of NY, and if we remove the bureaucracy layers and have a dedicated team to subway expansion you could get cost down significantly. would think that projects like Utica Avenue line Red Hook Extension and the Triboro RX could be funded this way. More apropos in this situation though, would be to find cheaper transportation methods so when the MTA has to search for new methods of bringing people across town like the BQX or a light rail on an abandoned LIRR branch (see what I did there hehe), then they can obviously excogitate and make new studies on alternatives, effectively making the alternative methods more parsimonious. We need to use methods that other countries use as a paradigm for our benefit.
My penultimate argument is this: find cheaper alternatives to fund and construct future projects, and make sure the management is also supervised carefully, so that we can finish projects on time and under budget.
My last argument, or should I say, question, is this. I just have one simple question for you. What would you like, 3 stations per decade (with poor management, etc.) vs 10 stations in 7 or 8 years (with good management)? You let me know.