Congestion pricing: Harlem residents fume after Second Avenue Subway extension shelved following Hochul’s toll pause

Harlem resident fumes over congestion pricing pause delaying Second Avenue Subway extension
Darnell Stevenson is one of many Harlem locals fuming after the governor’s infamous congestion pricing halt reportedly led to a brand-new neighborhood station getting axed.
Photo by Dean Moses

Harlem locals are fuming after hearing the news that the Second Avenue Subway extension to the neighborhood had been halted weeks after Gov. Kathy Hochul put the congestion pricing plan on ice.

Extending the Second Avenue Subway northward to 125th Street in Harlem from its current Upper East Side terminus at 96th Street was to have been funded through the toll revenue that the MTA was to reap from congestion pricing.

The MTA, however, put the extension on the back burner this week as they scramble to figure out how to fund their operations going forward without relying upon the paused toll plan that would have charged drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street. 

For residents in Harlem, the Second Avenue Subway extension represented hope and a much-needed improvement in public transportation. With the project now scrapped, it is instead just another item on a list of unfulfilled neighborhood needs.

On Thursday, locals slogging through the neighborhood amid blistering summer heat decried the cancellation.

Janet Ashe slowly walked along 125th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, pulling herself forward with her cane. She told amNewYork Metro that the community does not have a great many options for travel and is disappointed to hear the train line’s extension may not happen.

“It would have been nice to have it closer to this area. We have to go far to have to travel when we have got to get to different places. That would have been helpful,” Ashe said, noting that she would like to still see it come to fruition. “It’s terrible, I hope they can get it back so people can take advantage.”

On Thursday, locals slogging through Harlem amid blistering summer heat decried the cancellation.Photo by Dean Moses
Construction was set to begin on the brand Q train extension on 125 and 2nd Avenue when it was announced that the MTA had issued a stop work order, seemingly killing the project.Photo by Dean Moses

Darnell Stevenson agreed. He says he is a frequent Q train rider and has to transfer to another train when he wants to ride into the area.

“It sucks. To get here from the Q you have to go to 96 and take the 4. They should do a fundraiser or something,” Stevenson said.

Celeste Materi says while she believes it would have been great to have the extension in the area, she is more concerned about the existing amenities. She says other local subway station entrances have been under construction for months and the streets need paving.

“It would be good just to have good service. There’s so many other problems right now. But yeah, I think another subway line is necessary,” Celeste Materi said. Photo by Dean Moses

“It would be good just to have good service. There’s so many other problems right now. But yeah, I think another subway line is necessary,” Materi said.

Materi also added that as a senior the 125th 6-line station has too many stairs while also noting that she feels it’s dangerous due to open drug use.

“There are just so many sketchy people around, you know, and to get to the express line at the 125 Street station you have to go downstairs and down more stairs,” Materi said. “Every time I do it, I think I am not going to do this again, so I just take buses.”