BY JACKSON CHEN | The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s long-delayed Second Avenue Subway Phase 1 will be opening on time, with service starting on January 1 at noon, according to officials.
A December 19 announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo said an inaugural ride will take place on December 31 with regular service launching the following day with an uptown Q train departing from the 57th Street/ Seventh Avenue station.
The MTA said the line would run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the first week, with trains arriving every six minutes during peak hours. The Second Avenue line will start overnight service on January 9.
“New Yorkers have waited nearly a century to see the promise of the Second Avenue Subway realized, and after unrelenting dedication from thousands of hardworking men and women, the wait is over and the subway will open on December 31,” Cuomo said in a press release.
At a December 22 appearance with the governor, East Side Congressmember Carolyn Maloney said, “This is an achievement right up there with the construction of the pyramids as a marvel of what humankind can build. Only the pyramids don’t have this beautiful artwork that you’re going to see everywhere in this subway.”
Several days earlier, Maloney weighed in on the line’s impact on the local economy and the daily commuting lives of East Siders.
“No economic activity in the City of New York would be more important than building the Second Avenue Subway,” she said at a December 20 event. “On day one, it will move over 200,000 people, it will reduce travel times, and it will reduce overcrowding on the Lexington line. It’s a win, win, win.”
The Second Avenue Subway’s first phase originates at a connection at the Lexington Avenue/ 63rd Street stop and continues north to three new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets.
The Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit advocacy group serving the tri-state area, was a leading supporter of the push for the new subway line.
“This is a critical part of the transportation system,” Pierina Sanchez, RPA’s New York director said. “Without the Second Avenue Subway… investments like the East Side Access and the extension of the 7 line wouldn’t work. It’s going to connect tens of thousands of people from the Upper East Side to jobs in Midtown.”
The East Side Access project will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal, as an alternative to a Penn Stations destination for commuters from Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, putting new pressures on an already overcrowded Lexington Avenue line.
Sanchez said that in addition to taking cars off the road, the Second Avenue Subway would dramatically reduce commuting time for residents who live on or east of Second Avenue uptown.
For many local businesses and restaurants on Second Avenue, the opening of the new line presents the opportunity to finally to reap the benefits of their long patience in living with continuous construction that often deterred their patrons.
“You come to work with jackhammers, cement trucks, mysterious explosions that shake your building and your dining room,” Dave Goodside, owner of the Beach Café at the corner of East 70th and Second Avenue, said. “It’s something that we’re not going to miss.”
Both Goodside and Sammy Musovic, the president of the Second Avenue Merchants Association, said they faced economic hardship from dealing with construction impediments over the years. Musovic, who owns three restaurants on the avenue, said it would be “a dream come true” once the subway opens.
Maloney recently called on the federal government to commit the funding for the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway that would bring new stations at 106th and 116th with a connection to the 4, 5, and 6 trains at the 125th Street station of the Lexington Avenue line. With the congressmember expecting the first phase completion to bring a business revival on the Upper East Side — calling the project “the economic gift that will keep on giving” — she said East Harlem would enjoy the same benefits from the new line’s second phase.