A brand new rebuilt shuttle taking commuters from Grand Central to Times Square has officially opened to the public.
The shuttle comes as a part of the 42nd Street Connection Project, which aims to transform the commuting experience for thousands of New Yorkers who take the 42nd Street Shuttle. Janno Lieber, Acting MTA Chairman and CEO, stated that the shuttle was completely rebuilt during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today we add the rebuilding of the Times Square to Grand Central tunnel to our list of accomplishments,” said Lieber. “The shuttle was part of the very first subway line that opened in 1904. It is among the very oldest parts of our system. It connects the two busiest stations in the MTA system and carried 100,000 riders a day before COVID.”
The platforms on the shuttle previously had design flaws such as sharply curved platforms, leading to big gaps between the train and the platform and making it difficult to use for wheelchair-using passengers. The redesign straightened out the platforms, allowing for more train cars and fewer gaps, and making the line fully ADA compliant.
“This is truly a great day for New York City Transit and for New York City,” said Craig Cipriano, NYC Transit Interim President. “I’ve been with this agency for over 30 years since I started with subways, and rebuilding the shuttle has been a topic of discussion for that entire time. It’s amazing to finally see the renovation New Yorkers deserve, especially at this critical moment when we are welcoming them back.”
“Completing the shuttle project is a huge enhancement for all riders and a critical step forward towards system-wide accessibility,” said Quemuel Arroyo, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer. “The improvements we are celebrating today are transformative, and there is still more to come.”
Among the projects that have been completed during the pandemic, Lieber said, include the revamped L and F train tunnels, elevator accessibility at 11 subway stations, OMNY going live across the MTA system and getting the Moynihan Train Hall into service. The MTA is also currently working on making commutes more efficient and quicker for straphangers by updating signals and bringing real-time information to riders.
“The bottom line is that New Yorkers are going to be coming back to a system that is much improved over the system that existed when COVID hit in early 2020,” said Lieber. “We’ve been taking advantage of the low ridership to improve the customer experience.”
During the opening, the MTA also unveiled its Welcome Back New York Campaign. The new campaign, as the name suggests, aims to welcome back riders to the MTA system.
“The campaign reminds our customers that we never stopped running thanks to our heroic workforce,” said Sarah Meyer, MTA Chief Customer Officer. “And shows that those who might have stopped riding with us what they’ve been missing: a faster, cleaner, quieter, better public transit system. One that is more accessible to all.”
The campaign will be visible through 25 outdoor billboards. The MTA is continuing to clean the subways vigorously while actively working to make riding more comfortable for commuters.