Issue of the Week
 
Printer-friendly page Click here to get a printable version of this article

Second Avenue Subway
Or maybe Regional Rail or Light Rail?

Excerpt from the Committee for Better Transit's Regional Transit Advocate
Volume 1, Number 2 Spring 1999

CBT View

1. Ease overcrowding on the Lexington Ave. Subway

CBT has consistently advocated maximizing use of existing facilities before investing in new lines. Clearly overcrowding on the Lexington Ave. Line should be eased as quickly as possible. Major new expnsion is years away even under the most oprtimistec scenarios. Efforts should be made to shift Vronx travelers to less crowded lines, particularly the Central Park West Subway and the Hell Gate Bridge Line. More Concourse trains could run express to Sixth Avenue in Manhattan where capacity is available attracting Jerome Ave riders of of the Lexington Ave line. Further encouraging this shift would be a switch of express and local lines on the Lexington Avenue subway. Pelham trains could run express and Jerome and White Plains Road services could run local in Manhattan. This would make the Seventh and Eighth Avenue routings relatively more attractive for Bronx to Manhattan riders. A new "regional rail" service on Amtrak's Hell Gate Line to Penn Station could divert some Pelham Line riders from the Lexington Line.

2. Develop the Sixth Avenue subway as a second Grand Central to Lower Manhattan subway line.

Through trains could be operated from the Sixth Avenue line to the World Trade Center using track connections available at West Fourth St. Trains could continue even further south if the World Trade Center stub tracks were linked to the BMT tracks. At 42nd two tracks of the Grand Central Times Square Shuttle could be converted to a moving walkway, allowing Grand Central commuters to reach the Sixth Avenue Line for points in Lower Manhattan.

3. In the longer term planners should assume a fully integrated fare structure which allows travelers to optimize their routes.

Metro-North LIRR link-up through Lower Manhattan would ease Lexington Avenue overloads if frequent service were provided at Bronx stations.

4. LRT operation on Second Avenue would serve East Side travelers who are some distance from the Lexington subway.

A grid of LRT line in Manhattan would allow multiple connections. LRT in combination with a new Second Avenue express subway would local service to be by LRT, saving station cost and travel time on two track subway sections.

CBT continues to advocate for better transit service in a cost-efficient manner. Regional planners need to take a more comprehensive look at all the pieces and develop a coherent plan for rail transit expansion in the New York area. Such a plan should include full conversion of commuter rail into regional rail, with the prospect for inter-operability of regional rail and urban rapid transit where possible. The current RPA and MTA efforts are a good start, but they are not there yet. Need is a more open, inclusive planning process that will take a fresh look at the enormous potential for improving the nation's, if not the world's, most complex rail network.


Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation, the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation’s public education programs.  Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.