NEW YORK CITY: MTA To Completely Close 30 Subway Stations For Months-Long Renovations

Yesterday New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and MTA officials announced technological upgrades to the subway system and the coming months-long closures of 30 stations for major renovations. AM New York reports:

Millennial-friendly amenities will be introduced into the subway system, 30 stations will be redesigned and phone chargers will be installed in train cars and buses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA announced Friday.

Wi-Fi will also be installed in all stations by the end of 2016, moving up the timeline by a year, and new countdown clocks on letter lines and the No. 7 will also be installed on an accelerated timeline, they said.

Finally, the MetroCard will be replaced by a digital fare system beginning in 2017. They will initially roll it out at transit hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central that have rail-subway connections. It will replace the MetroCard by 2018.

“The future is mass transit,” Cuomo said in a speech at the Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn, which does not have Wi-Fi or cellphone reception. Cuomo’s remarks were geared toward younger passengers that expect the subway to be more modern.

More from Gothamist:

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast took to the podium Friday as well, promising to “re-envision” 30 subway stations by 2020. The MTA plans to make these stations “cleaner, brighter… easier to navigate, with better and more intuitive wayfinding, as well as a modernized look and feel.” This means more On The Go touch screens, new signage, new lighting.

Rather than close these stations on nights and weekends to accomplish this “renewal”—the Governor described the current approach as “piecemeal”—the MTA will shut down entire stations for an average six to twelve-months per station to expedite renovations. Will your neighborhood’s subway station be one of them?

Below is a map of the 30 stations to be closed. (Right-click to embiggen.) New York City presently has 469 stations.mtaclosures

  • Gustav2

    Millennial friendly? Harrumph! My flip phone needs a charge, too, dabnabit!

    • And look what you are missing! If you had an iphone you could be one of these people who witnessed a horse winning a triple crown by looking at a box!

      • Gustav2

        I am going upstairs to take off hat, now.

    • Marides48

      Yea, I remember when the trend in cell phones was to make them smaller. Now they’re HUUUUUUUGH!

  • So if when I visit New York next and want to go to Lincoln Center and the Museum of Natural History on the West Side I am going to need a cab right? In all seriousness this is going to be a huge mess for Manhattan — I am glad to be living in boring but warm and easy to drive around in Florida now. This along with exploding population means New Yorkers need better transit or else.

  • Bj Lincoln

    They have enough people to put a crew in every one of those stations at the same time to get the job done or will many of them be closed while waiting their turn? There is no way to put in WIFI while there are people in the station? I can see closing for some of the things listed but some of them are not so disruptive they need to close. Sounds inconvenient.

    • And it is going to take longer to do this then the time they estimate. For example, they are supposed to open the first three stations of the Second Avenue Subway at the end of the year (but no one believes that it actually will be ready then). They started construction in 1972 — which was years later than planned.

    • Stubenville

      The MTA contracting process makes the US military look like amateurs; everything will be gold plated, and the workers will be tripping over supervisors and managers. But the real reason for the closures is probably to avoid double time wages.

    • sherman

      I think the “stations will be redesigned” part is what will take time, not the “friendly amenities” part.

  • shellback

    Gawd forbid someone should be without cell phone service for a couple minutes. Oh, the humanity.

    • The best thing about the subway was that you could read a magazine or book in peace without someone yammering away on their cell phone next to you. I guess that’s over now.

      • dr morbius

        Yes, NYC has been “over” for 20 years. This is just burning the corpse.

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      • stevenj

        When SF’s BART installed wifi in it’s tunnel sections several years ago the same concern about loudmouths came up. Then texting came along.

        • I used to listen to my ipod in the subway. Now all the phone music programs seem to want you to stream so it would be useful to have wifi down there. And also the ability to dial 9/11 (or make calls when the train is stuck). So maybe you are right and it won’t be that bad.

          • stevenj

            For sure there will still be loudmouths trying to scream above the train noise but the experience here was that the number of them was greatly reduced due to texting and video games.

          • I haven’t been back for a few years and even when I was only away for a month or two I would forget how freaking loud the trains were with the wheels screeching. (I would also forget how filthy it was. I remember the same bit of puke on one platform for over a week. I swear they never clean the stations much less the trains. (Picking up old newspapers is not even the bare minimum of cleaning that should be happening.

        • Jeffg166

          I ride buses in Philadelphia and everyone is on a phone texting. It’s rather pleasant. Occational someone feels compelled to share their life by having a phone conversation.

          • Good Shot Green

            I’m always giving the moronic narcissists yakking on phones on the MFL and NHSL the evil eye. Never works. Why would you want everyone to hear your banality? I’d be mortified if I were disturbing others’ commutes, especially in the morning.

            Texting, people, texting!

          • Oscarlating Wildely

            Not sure which one you’re taking– I hate the busses here with a passion. I’ll take the quiet car on regional rail any day of the week.

    • Kevin Perez
  • BearEyes

    6-12 months per station sounds like a long time for the specifics listed in the article. The general term “redesign” is not specific enough to know how extensive the redesign will be to justify such a long closure.

    • Bj Lincoln

      If they can’t rebuild a station in a year, they are not doing it right.

      • LeftyNYC

        You would think, wouldn’t you? But seasoned NYers know that “6-12 months” means at least two years.

    • ChrisMorley

      It’s much the same the world over.
      The major revamp of Amsterdam Centraal station overran, the new metro line in Amsterdam is years behind, a short section of new Manchester, England cross-city tram line is taking more than two years.
      Some people find a blunt helps takes the edge off.

  • As rents continue to rise and pay remains stagnant (and in some cases is still dropping) they’ll need more mass transit so that the people who work in nyc will be able to get there from wherever they can just barely afford to live.

    • dr morbius

      b-b-but Obama! Jobs added! Who cares if they’re for fry cooks?

  • dr morbius

    FUCK WiFi.



    • romanhans

      If you’re running around at the ungodly hour of 10 pm you deserve to wait 20 minutes for a train.

  • justmeeeee

    All that bother when what’s really needed first and foremost is a mop and a broom.

  • TuuxKabin

    Can’t wait to be a captive audience to all the cell phone conversations. It’ll be like listening to fifty different Seinfeld conversations at once. How could anyone not enjoy that? Every time I hear or read about MTA’s plans to new and improved service it’s an eyeroll to the back of my head.

    • Jimmie Z

      This way you get to see more of the hidden convolutions of your brain.

      Paging Dr. Carson!

  • Nicholas Rostov

    Finally. NYC joins the 21st cent.

  • LeftyNYC

    I find this whole “update” absurd. There are many many NYC subway stations in dire need of repairs, and there are numerous decrepit cars in service, but the MTA is instead prioritizing WiFi in the stations most used by Millennials.

    I took a look at the list of stations being “updated” and not a single one of the neediest stations appears there. One example: in Manhattan, the 181st St. station for the 1 train is falling apart and it has no communication system at all. The ceiling is supported by ramshackle steel scaffolding, and the elevators are the only way out because the station lacks an accessible staircase. This is one of the busiest stations uptown, and it serves a thousands of working class New Yorkers.

    But the trust fund kids need their WiFi.

    • unsavedheathen

      Correct. The answer to why the station you cite has been allowed to fall into ruin may be ascertained by finding it on a map. No one who matters to the MTA uses the 181st Street station.

    • Stubenville

      I used to live by the 28th St #6 station. It was decrepit in the 1990’s.

      I agree that WiFi seems a curious priority.

  • M Jackson

    There are plenty of modernizations that are sorely needed across the MTA. However, the announcement that strap-hangers on my Astoria-bound “N” train dread above all others is “due to a signal problem at Queensboro Plaza … you’re all fucked.” I’ve never heard of service being suspended “due to a lack of cell phone service…”.

    • Silver Badger

      Very probably, there are several renovations planned at each station which will go faster without gawkers milling about. It is so much easier to be understanding here in Denver.

  • KP

    Color me jealous. The San Francisco MTA won’t waste money on modernizing or WiFi they use all capital investments for nonexistent service improvements.

    • Tor

      Service in my area actually has improved. I often get a seat these days, and busses run more frequently.

  • Lumpy Gaga

    Fuck tracking my travels.

    And bring back tokens.

  • Lumpy Gaga

    easier to navigate, with better and more intuitive wayfinding

    Because giant black and white signs saying “Uptown”, “Downtown”, “Bronx”, “Brooklyn”, etc. are too hard for millenials?

    • unsavedheathen

      Looking up is hard.

    • LeftyNYC

      I thought exactly the same thing. Will the MTA be hiring Millennial Guides to personally escort the special snowflakes?

    • Rambie

      Without their Apple Maps telling them where and when to turn, millennials will get lost.

    • Stubenville

      [Barbie voice] Reading is hard!

    • BoogieDownBornandRaised

      Right… Millenials, the new buzzword to make people over the age of 25 feel superior…. Or you know, the millions of tourists and newbie transplants who are unfamiliar with
      our subway system. Just like you all probably were when you first moved here,
      and like I was before I was regularly using mass transit despite the
      fact that I was born here. Shit, I still get confused in some stations
      and I’ve been riding for as long as I can remember now. Don’t be so

  • Baby Dave

    By the time this is implemented, the internet will be 30 years old. We will have had to way that long before you could get internet service on the subway of the largest city in North America.

    There are still commenters who apparently think this is moving too fast. I’m reminded of Operation Forward Thrust, a ballot initiative passed in Wav state to establish a light rail system connecting its major cities. Ground was broken on the very first station in 2005, by which point everyone who ha been of legal voting age at the time the initiative had passed into law was dead of old age. The light rail system still doesn’t connect even two major cities in that state. People there think things are moving at breakneck speed. Which is what you’d come to expect from a state who’s state motto translates into English as “Eventually”.

  • TuuxKabin

    And I can just see people sharing the recharging outlets, push is really going to come to shove.

  • LeftyNYC

    I’ve been a bit snarky about this, but of course I’d appreciate an underground phone signal so I could alert others when the trains are delayed.

    Still, I’d much rather have trains that AREN’T DELAYED.

  • TJay229

    Damn, they missed me here in Brooklyn on the D. But I’m glad, as a Verizon customer I get miffed at AT&T & Sprint customers using their phones underground and I can’t unless its at a wifi station.

  • TheManicMechanic

    Millennial-friendly? Kiosks that dispense constant praise and assurance? Virtual helicopter parents? Whole-grain subway passes? In-terminal tattoo parlors? Apple Stores? Downloadable playlists of music inspired by the route and area?

    • Stubenville

      Free range conductors.

    • 2guysnamedjoe

      Organic artisanal bum-barf.

  • Octavio

    Now, if only NYC could do something about the subway cars. In comparison to Paris and Mexico City, those old steel rail coaches used in NYC are a noisy menace. Imagine what it would be like if they rolled on rubber-clad wheels on wide bands of seamless steel. Even in Mexico City, the cars are crammed tight, but the ride is sublime (especially when a young hustler cruises you by nonchalantly rubbing your crotch). Who needs WiFi?

    My bad. :=)

    • TuuxKabin

      When BART was built in the late 60’s, Bechtel wanted to get copyrights for rubber wheels, as used in Paris, Montreal, Mexico City and elsewhere. The French did not want to release the rights, for French reasons. I was chauffeur to one of the Exec. VP’s at the time and heard lots of talk. And since the NYMTA was built 100 years ago I doubt they’d change to anything that would make the ride more comfortable.

      • Octavio

        Yeah. I remember when BART opened. We were all pissed that it was just 1800-style wheels and couplings instead of something worthy of our tax dollars. Not too long ago I was in Mexico City. That system was purchased from the French and installed in 1968 for the summer olympics. It’s still more modern and easy to negotiate than NYC’s underground. At least BART purchased a clue and non-English speakers can negotiate the system by following obvious icons. However, some new lines to the Paris Metro are now using old steel wheeled cars. Don’t know why.

        • TuuxKabin

          I remember hearing about all the buried artifacts they kept finding while digging the Mexico City Metro, they kept being delayed until the decided to damn the artifacts, keep digging. What treasures were lost for progress. I love the ‘icons’ they use for stations in Mexico City. So easy to identify. I understand they used symbols/icons/glyphs for the illiterate. Forward thinking, unlike here where you may as well be blind folded in some stations.

          • Octavio

            I ‘m not sure if they ever just dug through the vast antiquities in the mud, but it’s certainly amazing to get out at several of the metro stations and discover a restored Mesoamerican pyramid or sacrificial temple as the centerpiece. Mexico is definitely the most exotic place I’ve traveled. And I’ve traveled a great deal.

          • TuuxKabin

            Yeah, I remember those stations and restored scenes. Mexico City is staggering in its size and cultural sites.

          • Octavio

            And the people are quite handsome, too. 😛

          • TuuxKabin

            claro que si.

    • Jimmie Z


  • Chuck in NYC

    I’m gonna applaud this, and the improvements announced this week for the Javits Center and Penn Station.

    I’m still ticked off, however, that there is still not going to be any direct subway extension to LaGuardia. That was a political will Governor Cuomo and his minions could not summon against neighborhood objections.

  • rabbit_ears

    Don’t imagine WiFi in stations as being a great idea. They’re rolling it out here in Toronto, so far in the downtown core. By the time you connect, agree to the EULA and watch the mandatory advertisement, you’re no longer in the station. Recently it changed that you need to sign in with Twitter, and I refuse to open my Twitter account to that for security reasons. I can totally see NYC ending up in the same if not worse condition.

    • TuuxKabin

      If it can go wrong with MTA it’ll go way wrong, right off the rails.

  • 2guysnamedjoe

    All the mobile telecommunications gear I’ve ever needed to carry around with me:

  • Anthony

    To those whinging about WiFi being a priority..

    Cellphones (or mobiles as we call them) are increasingly getting WiFi calling – so it’s not just about instagram selfies and cat videos, it’s about communication in general (including phone calls in times of trouble, and adding additional capacity), before cell providers extend their coverage and capacity down there.

    Additionally, the WiFi is probably being managed by an external contractor, and it’s likely that the whole network is a package deal.. doing it piecemeal station by station deal would likely be more expensive.. and the cost of putting in WiFi base stations per station is probably not even close to the cost of renovating the actual station. WiFi can also be used for geolocation services (wouldn’t be surprised if they put Bluetooth beacons in with the install) which are of help to people of other languages and those who are vision impaired.

    As with all public spending, there’s always going to be “but what about this first?”.

    Eg. Think of public health spending (when it happens there)

    “But there are kids of dying of cancer!”

    … and that’s sad, and ideally we don’t want it to happen, but to drop everything and make it the single priority is unrealistic, there’s other stuff going on, from the equally serious to the mundane. Government needs to multi-task because the amount of resources thrown at a problem out of a finite pool does not always have a linear effect..

    Or.. a technical analogy.. torrenting..

    Download one file.. you might based upon all the peers etc. get the file at a slow to moderate speed. Download several files at once, and the pipeline is more likely to be better utilised with the slack caused by delays in one file taken up by others.

    There likely isn’t the upfront funding or resources (contractors, surface disruption for support facilities) to do all stations at once, and sure, some of it’s likely to have some “preferential treatment” to some districts (that’s a reality of the world these days, it sucks, but it’s not going to the full picture by any means), but more likely, they’re also going to have looked at foot traffic, whether they can afford to close the station for a year, how near other facilities are, whether those facilities nearby could cope with the increased traffic before they’re renovated, and so on and so forth…. these things are never considered in isolation. The more people who use a given station, that has no nearby alternatives, the less likely they are to take the “close it for a year” approach.

    The transport system you have there is amazing. That many people getting to and from where they want to go, every day, mostly underground. Amazing..

    Meanwhile, we have maybe 3 underground stations in a loop with no outer ring lines, with an albeit significantly lower, but growing population. For all the faults you have there, it is an incredible system.

    Once they complete the renovations to the stations they’re doing, they’ll then be able to better tackle the other stations near those ones that have been done.

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  • NancyP

    Bad idea. They need to do fewer stations at a time, and finish each station quickly, so as to keep serving the commuters.