First Week - 2nd Avenue Subway
After decades of talk (and nearly as many of delays), a subway line reaching more of the residents of the Upper East Side, is opened to the public.
Opening Day, January 1, 2017
At long last, it's here.
For decades, the City of New York has been promising residents of the Upper East Side (especially those living around 2nd Avenue above 59th Street, up to 125th) a subway line to both ease congestion on the green-colored 4, 5 and 6 lines and to shorten the speed of traveling to other parts of the City. A few years ago I wrote about the frustration and problems of the existing subway at Lexington Avenue and 86 Street. As the words and pictures showed, it was not generally a pleasant trip, and one endured for many years.
This week that finally changed. After years of underground tunneling through Manhattan bedrock, controversies, suggestions of a delayed opening and basically (though temporarily) rendering the area of 2nd Avenue from around 64th Street to 96th Street a hideous mess, the extension of the Q line from its previous end at 57th Street and 7th Avenue was opened to the public on January 1st. Scaffolding and covers were removed, and people now were using what had so long been only discussed (and complained about).
That day I decided to ride the subway down to about Union Square at 14th Street, which in New York marks the dividing line between Midtown and Downtown Manhattan. Now I was beginning my "journey" at 86th Street and Second Avenue.
My first impression of the new station was how deep in the earth it is. Most subways in New York are only a few meters down, but this one required two sets of escalator rides before I even reached the turnstile openings. Down there I noticed how high and wide the corridors were (pictured), which led to the platforms of the Q line. It reminded me of the recently completed Port Authority Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan.
Another thing that caught my attention the ride's flow. I heard that these subway tracks had been insulated. It showed as the Q train sped softly through the East Side. Straphangers in New York are generally accustomed to the nearly deafening screeching of the train cars' wheels against the metallic tracks, especially waiting for them on the open platforms. That absence here made for a more pleasant commute.
Checking The Times
One thing I did while traveling was to time the length of a trip, from 82nd and 2nd Avenue to other stations. I work near Times Square, and could use extra minutes off my travel time.
I used the Stopwatch feature (pictured) on my iPhone to roughly gauge the length of the ride. By dividing parts of the commute into "laps," I could further segment the time it took to get to stops. Lap 1 (from 86 Street and 2nd Avenue to 57th Street and 7th Avenue) lasted little of over 8 minutes. Lap 2 (57th and 7th to 14th Street and Park Avenue) was little of over 7 minutes.
These times are extraordinary! It takes little more than 10 minutes for me to go from station to station to my job, just north of Times Square (I have to transfer to an N, R or W train to get to one more stop.). The walking time to and from stations and the waiting for trains are about as long as the commute itself! Although I have to account for delays and other unexpected conditions; under ideal conditions, the commute from deep into the Upper East Side to Times Square (well on the West Side) is now well under a half an hour.
It is gratifying to see a major project finally become a working reality. Like thousands of people who lived on the Upper East Side, I lived with the frustrations of a crowded and often delayed traveling. When it's rush hour, the subway is the only way to go. Even swift and unscrupulous taxis get mired in daily traffic.
I envied Upper West Siders, who had at least two sets of subway paths--and even more lines--for decades! I also thought about the dozens of communities around the City that remain underserved by the absence of more subway lines. I know that the rising economics of Upper East Side, as well as its population, made the building of this subway an imperative. While I know so much in life in unfair, I cannot help but enjoy this latest convenience of our City.
Completed in New York
January, 4-6, 2017