Spring Means it is Time for Metro-North Station Spruce Ups

MTA New York City Transit’s old South Ferry loop station has reopened for service.  The station had been out of service since the new South Ferry terminal station opened in 2009, but was re-commissioned after the new station was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

“Reopening the new old South Ferry station means that our customers who live on Staten Island have an easier time to connect to the No. 1 subway rather than walk half a mile up to Rector Street,” said MTA Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer, who was on hand for the reopening along with MTA Board Member Allen P. Cappelli and MTA personnel. “We don’t want to leave any of our customers behind.  This was an important thing to do.”

“I would like to commend our Transit team, who through their hard work enabled us to get the old loop station back into service for our customers,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas F. Prendergast.  “We will continue to work with Governor Cuomo and our federal and local partners to rebuild and restore service to the new South Ferry station as quickly as possible.”

Sandy’s storm surge sent 15 million gallons of salt water into the new South Ferry station, destroying all electrical and mechanical systems and components and filling the entire structure from the track level to the mezzanine, a depth of 80 feet. As a result, 1 trains had been terminating at Rector Street until the first through train opened its doors at South Ferry at 5:15 a.m. today.

The reopening came less than a month since Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced March 8 that the MTA would restore service to the old South Ferry loop as a temporary alternative until the new South Ferry Station can be refurbished.

Work to reopen the old South Ferry included opening a new connection point between the new station mezzanine and the old loop station, which will allow a transfer between the 1 and the R Whitehall Street station. The two escalators from the street to the concourse level were also restored in the process.

Other work included refurbishing the moveable platform edge extenders and replacing pistons and other components. Crews also installed electrical feeds, closed-circuit television systems to monitor the platform, customer assistance intercoms, security cameras and radio communications in the dispatcher’s office. Lighting in the station and adjacent tunnels was restored and the station walls were repaired and repainted.  Additionally, a new fare control area was created consisting of four turnstiles and one emergency gate leading to the existing staircase at the old loop station.

Customers must be in the first five cars to exit at the old South Ferry loop station because of its short platform, and are urged to exit through the staircase at the center of the platform because of limited space. Customers entering the station should use the main entrance adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry terminal using the new South Ferry station mezzanine, entering the loop station from the newly created connection.

The loop station will be closed during some weekends in the future in order to rehabilitate the moveable platforms, with dates to be announced in the near future.

On Monday, April 8, MTA New York City Transit brings FASTRACK back to the Bronx on the Grand Concourse D Line.   D train service will be suspended in both directions between 205th Street and 161st Street-Yankee Stadium from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., for four consecutive weeknights from Monday, April 8 to early Friday morning, April 12.  B service ends early each night.  Bronx-bound D trains skip 155th Street.  Customers should take the 4 instead.  (There are no Yankee home games scheduled during those four nights.) 

There will be no D service at 205th Street, Bedford Park Blvd, Kingsbridge Road, Fordham Road, 182nd-183rd Sts, Tremont Avenue, 174th-175th Sts, 170th Street and 167th Street.   

Travel alternatives:

  • Take 4 service to and from nearby stations.
  • Transfer between D and 4 trains at 161st Street-Yankee Stadium.
  • Free shuttle buses provide connection service between the 205th Street D and the Mosholu Parkway 4 stations only
  • For service from 155th Street, take a Coney Island-bound D train one stop to 145th Street and transfer to a Bronx-bound D
  • For service to 155th Street, take the Bronx-bound D to 161st Street-Yankee Stadium and transfer to a Coney Island-bound D.

During the first FASTRACK shutdown of the five-mile long Concourse line in January, hundreds of maintenance workers were able to inspect signals and switches, repair and replace track rails and cross ties, clean track floors, perform elevator and escalator repair work, repair water damage, clear drains, and clean stations.

FASTRACK was introduced in January 2012, devoting four straight weeknights to perform maintenance work in tunnels, stations and on tracks, completely suspending service within a given line segment for a seven-hour period between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.  This gives free access to the system, allowing an army of maintenance workers to perform dozens of tasks without the concern of having to “clear up” to allow trains to pass.

The new FASTRACK corridors for 2013 include:  the Broadway N, Q, R south of Queensboro Plaza to Court Street; the A  line between 168th Street and 207th Street in Upper Manhattan, the D  Concourse Line between 161st and 205th Street; and the Lexington Avenue 4, 5, and 6 local and express lines between Grand Central-42nd Street and 125th Street.  

FASTRACK projects are also scheduled for the Sixth/Eighth Avenue Lines (A, B, C, D) between 59th Street-Columbus Circle and 168th Street-Broadway and 161st Street; the Fourth Avenue line (D, N, R) between 36th Street and 95th Street in Brooklyn and the 2 along Nostrand Avenue between Franklin and Flatbush Avenues. 

These FASTRACK efforts have been designed around the careful determination that there is adequate alternate means of transportation, including enhanced services along some bus lines during work periods.  Alternative transportation options will be detailed in announcements and posters on trains, in stations and on selected buses; brochures will be available in both English and Spanish.  Information on this FASTRACK is available on the web at

Our next FASTRACK overnight closure will be at all N, Q and R stations in Manhattan for four consecutive weeknights from April 15 to April 19. 

City Food Tours is one of New York City's most popular attractions for gourmets and gourmands who want to experience the city's unique neighborhoods by sampling the cuisines that make them special. Now, the Long Island Rail Road has cooked up a package deal that allows customers to ride the rails and take a City Foods Tour at a savings of up to 40%.

On Friday, May 3, take the LIRR to City Food Tours's Downtown Chocolate, Wine and Dessert Tour where expert guides lead you on an two and a half hour walk through Manhattan's stylish SoHo and NoLIta neighborhoods where you will taste the most extraordinary chocolates, cheeses and desserts found in all of New York.
You'll start in SoHo, visiting a couple of the best American chocolatiers. You'll learn about how the chocolates are made and be able to taste handmade chocolates. Then you'll explore Di Palo's, a fixture in Little Italy and source of some of the best Italian cheeses found anywhere in the U.S. Next is a wine tasting at one of the city's most unique wine stores where you will learn why Chile produces some of the best wines for price. Top all that off with a visit to some of the best bakeries and handmade confection shops around.
The LIRR package price is $63 for adults traveling from LIRR Zones 1-10 and $74 for adults traveling from LIRR Zones 12-14 saves you up to 40% on an LIRR off-peak ticket, round-trip rail fare and includes admission to the escorted tour. A Long Island Rail Road representative will meet you at 1 PM in the LIRR waiting room at Penn Station and escort you to the tour starting point via subway. MetroCards for subway travel are not included and must be purchased separately. Seniors 65+ should check current regular admission and rail fare and compare with adult package price.
Are you hankering for some great pizza, hot dogs and other real New York treats?  Then join us for a lunch of delicious tastes as we explore the historic and vibrant East Village on City Food Tours' "Flavors of New York" excursion.
You'll learn about New York pizza and what makes it authentic. You'll taste a traditional egg cream and learn that it doesn't have eggs or cream, but sure does quench your thirst. You'll visit a traditional Ukranian eatery and enjoy some savory bites as you hear about the political and cultural past of the neighborhood. Munch on an all-beef hot dog like a local and enjoy some of the best Italian desserts around during a half-mile trek with six great tasting stops.
The LIRR package price for the Flavors of New York Tour is $52 for adults traveling from LIRR Zones 1-10 and $63 for adults traveling from LIRR Zones 12-14, again a savings of up to 40% on  LIRR off-peak, round-trip rail fare and includes admission to the escorted tour. A Long Island Rail Road representative will meet you at 10 AM in the LIRR waiting room at Penn Station and escort you to the tour starting point via subway. MetroCards for subway travel are not included and must be purchased separately. Seniors 65+ should check current regular admission and rail fare and compare with adult package price.
Click on these links for more details about the Downtown Chocolate Wine and Dessert Tour or the Flavors of New York Tour.
Customers can also contact LIRR Customer Service by calling 511, the New York State Travel Information line, and saying Long Island Rail Road, then Group Travel.

The NYC Transit ridership pages on www.mta.info have been updated to include 2012 ridership for both buses and subways. 

Click here for ridership statistics.

Weekday and annual ridership are now the highest since 1950, and weekend ridership matched the highest ever ridership in 1946.  Of note, total annual ridership increased 0.9% from 2011 to 2012 despite the five weekdays with no service or free fares following Superstorm Sandy.  The mild winter in early 2012 (compared to a cold and snowy winter in 2011) and the improving economy offset the impact from Sandy.  Average weekday ridership, which excludes the five weekdays with no service or free fares after Sandy, increased 1.8% from 2011.  Weekend ridership increased even more at a 3.0% clip. 

Some other tidbits include:

  • The Crosstown line segment had the largest percentage average weekday ridership increase (4.2% or nearly 2,000 riders per weekday), likely due to new residential development along the line, as well as more travel between northern Brooklyn and activities in downtown Brooklyn (including the Barclays Center cited below).
  • The Astoria line segment had the second largest percentage weekday increase (3.7% or 2,400 riders per weekday), partially due to new development in the neighborhood, but also due to recovery of riders from significant track work in 2011 that required midday trains to run express from Astoria Blvd to Queensboro Plaza.  That shifted some riders to Astoria Blvd and the 36th Street and Steinway Street M SubwayR Subway stations.
  • The Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center station had a 7.6% (2,500 riders) weekday increase, due in part to the opening of the Barclays Center in September 2012.  Ridership at the nearby Fulton Street station increased 6.9%.
  • The Aqueduct-North Conduit Ave station had a 75.3% (1,000 riders) increase due to the opening of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct in late October 2011. Aqueduct ridership grew even more if we look at the 12 months ending October 2012 (pre-Sandy service disruptions).  Ridership increased 125% or 1,393 riders on weekdays, and 267% or 3,938 riders on weekends.
  • Ridership was strong in Harlem, including a 3.4% (1,800 riders) weekday increase on the Lenox line segment.  The eight stations from 116th Street to 145th Street on the Lenox and 8th Ave/Central Park West lines had a combined increase of 3.7% or about 3,600 riders.
  • The 14th Street /8th Ave and station had a 5.6% (nearly 2,200 riders) increase due to growth in both work trips and discretionary off-peak trips.
  • The Barclays Center ridership helped make Atlantic Ave the busiest station in Brooklyn in total annual ridership, even though Jay Street-MetroTech and Court Street /Borough Hall both served more weekday riders.  The busiest station in the Bronx was 161st Street-Yankee Stadium and the busiest station in Queens was Flushing-Main Street .

The MTA has closed on the first of two 99-year ground leases with the Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, which will build a platform over the Long Island Rail Road train yards on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan and develop 26 acres with a new neighborhood containing over 13 million square feet of office, retail, residential, cultural and hotel space. Under the previously disclosed terms of the lease, Related and Oxford are providing ground lease payments and will have purchase options that together are worth $1 billion. Closing on the second lease is expected later this year.

The revenue will support the MTA’s Capital Program, which allows the MTA to maintain and upgrade its stations, tracks, rolling stock, and maintenance and storage facilities, and to expand the region’s transportation network through megaprojects like the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access.
The MTA-owned portion of the Hudson Yards development area, where the new platform will rise, is bordered by Tenth and Twelfth Avenues and West 30th and 33rd Streets. The new mixed-use neighborhood being developed will be served by an extension of the subway line to 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue, which is planned to begin service in June 2014.
Related was selected by the MTA to develop the rail yards in May 2008 following a competitive RFP process initiated in July 2007 that attracted proposals from five qualified real estate development firms. Despite the global economic downturn, Related and Oxford, who partnered with Related in early 2010, remained committed to the original deal structure and entered into contract in May 2010 without a reduction to the levels of compensation described as part of the original RFP process.
In November 2012, the MTA Board approved minor contract modifications that allowed Related and Oxford to begin limited excavation and foundation work in advance of today’s closing. Doing so allowed the project to proceed while the final negotiations between Related Oxford and building tenants and financial partners were concluded. The modifications gave the developer needed flexibility and kept the levels of compensation to the MTA unchanged.
The Long Island Rail Road yards, formally known as the John D. Caemmerer Rail Yard, allow the LIRR to store, maintain and clean its trains in close proximity to Penn Station, which 230,000 LIRR customers pass through each day. Related and Oxford are working closely with the LIRR to design the platform above the yard to ensure continued safe and uninterrupted LIRR service.
Spring means Metro-North’s Station Enhancement Program is once again underway. “Stations gangs” are at select Harlem Line locations, giving them a coat of paint and numerous amenities to make them look fresh and new. 
This program, which started in 2010, reflects Metro-North’s efforts to keep stations in the communities it serves in good working order, while giving them a beautifying touch. 
Upgrade work includes some, or all, of the following elements, depending on the needs of individual stations: recoating all painted areas, new recycling bins, replacing damaged protective film on windows that prevent scratches from ruining the glass, cleaning the station right-of-way, re-stenciling the “Watch the Gap” signs, repairing wooden edge board between the platform and the train, replacing concrete benches with wire ones, installing new station identification signs, fixing shelter heaters, installing energy efficient lighting, and power washing all station exterior surfaces, windows and overpasses. 
This year, upgrade work is scheduled at Crestwood, Valhalla, North White Plains, Hawthorne and Pleasantville Stations. 
Last year exterior makeovers were completed at Bedford Hills, Katonah, Mt. Kisco and Chappaqua on the Harlem Line.  And on the New Haven Line, in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, improvements were made at Wilton, Cannondale, Rowayton and East Norwalk. 
The program is a true team effort undertaken by paint crews, station cleaners, sheet metal workers, electricians, elevator mechanics, track workers, plumbers and ticket vending machine maintainers.  All work is scheduled to minimize impacts on customers.