BY JACKSON CHEN | The W train will be returning this November after the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted on May 25 to revive the line to coincide with the Second Avenue Subway expansion project’s opening.
Before the year ends, W trains will begin running local from the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard stop in Queens across the East Side and then south to the Whitehall Street stop in Downtown Manhattan on weekdays, with no weekend or late night service. With the Q line, which currently runs into Queens, relocated to the Upper East Side as part of the Second Avenue expansion, the W line replaces that access into Queens alongside the N train.
The W line’s comeback — which will cost the MTA $13.7 million a year — will be just weeks before the completion of the Second Avenue line’s Phase 1 in December. That expansion adds three new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street, and 96th Street, which becomes the new northern terminus for the Q line.
Since Queens would lose Q line service, the restoration of the W line was the obvious choice since there needed to be two lines servicing the Astoria area, according to Andrew Albert, a member of the MTA’s New York City Transit and Bus Committee.
“The W was the service that previously ran on the Astoria branch, so it was logical to bring it back,” Albert said. “This was the one people were familiar with.”
After nine years of operation since 2001, the W line was discontinued in 2010 due to MTA budget cuts, which led to the N becoming a local train in Manhattan and the Q stretching into Astoria.
With the W line’s return in November, the N train will revert to express service in Manhattan and the Q will terminate at the 57th/ Seventh Avenue station until the Second Avenue Subway is opened weeks later.
On May 24, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the final approval of the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital budget of $27 billion, now slated to include around $1 billion for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway project — for preliminary work on new stations at 106th Street and 116th Streets and a connection to the Lexington line at 125th Street. A $500 million federal grant is also being sought to support Phase 2 work through 2019.
For the straphangers who attended the MTA board meeting, the return of the W and the stepped up commitment toward the Second Avenue Subway were welcome news.
Jason Anthony Pineiro, a Brooklyn resident, said the restoration of the W line, alongside progress with the Second Avenue project, were big steps forward for commuters.
Omar Vera, a resident of uptown Hudson Heights and a subway enthusiast, said the return of the W was the first time he’s heard of the MTA restoring service to a line earlier eliminated.
“I’m very excited about this because finally after six years, a subway service cut is being reversed,” Vera said.
He added that he would like to see the W line extended past Whitehall Street into Brooklyn to the Bay Parkway stop on the D line because he feels that area is underserved.
Albert, who is in favor of bringing W line service into Brooklyn, said the idea came before the MTA board, which explained there weren’t enough cars or demand for it.
Still, commuters on hand at the board meeting were pleased that service from Astoria to Lower Manhattan would be maintained even as the Second Avenue Subway goes online.
“I’m going to do two things,” Pineiro said. “Ride the Q for the last time to Queens and ride the W for the first time between Astoria and Lower Manhattan.”