- B9 service added
- Southern Brooklyn redone for better diagrammatic look
- Cleaning up of miscellaneous service labels, transfer boxes, etc.
- Outline of the box is now black
This enormous behemoth is the product of a lot of frustration, determination, and tears. But here it is – the first, and as far as I know, only frequent transit map of the four boroughs. This has taken the greater part of a month to make – it depicts every frequent transit route operated by NYCT and MTA Bus – every ten minutes or better, all day, Monday-Friday. At first this was supposed to be a simple diagram of the subway, to make Tomorrow’s Subway more polished. It somehow morphed into this.
The scale of this is astounding – originally, this was a quarter of the size it is now. However, due to legibility problems, it was blown up to its current size. If you print the PDF at full scale, it comes out to about 8 feet by 10.5 feet – definitely not something you want to carry around.with you on a normal basis. Perhaps it should’ve stayed as a separate map for each borough. Who knows?
The original plan for the general frequent transit map was to cut out a lot of routes by implementing a 10 minute standard (with 11 minute midday frequencies tolerated) and make something like this Montreal frequent transit map, with individual stops for every bus route. Due to the immense scale of the map, that went out the window first. Next to go were the PATH system in New Jersey and all of Staten Island – PATH was only going to be given a small section of the map anyways, and Staten Island only had one frequent transit route serving it, the S53 – not even the Ferry or the SIR ran 10 minutes all day. After that was the collection of one way avenues in Manhattan, to reduce clutter – that was replaced by a single line representing services running on the same street, which would’ve been much easier to simplify if the M5 didn’t have its odd routing on both 5th and 6th Avenues. Finally, due to a desire to finish the thing, street labels were put aside for a later date. Hopefully, at some point in time I will actually add the features listed here – the street labels, and maybe the stops, or at least just limited stops.
There are some serious geographical distortions – I don’t know how, but somehow the entire area around Coney Island got much bigger than it needed to be. Less noticeable are the geographical distortions around Randall’s Island, the Western Bronx, Eastern Queens, and Southern and Western Brooklyn.
If you spot an error, please feel free to point it out in the comments or in a private message – due to the immense scale of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if I made mistakes here and there – it’s impossible to see mistakes on a canvas that’s 8 by 10.5 feet. Any sort of other feedback would also be greatly appreciated.
Plans for a Utica Avenue subway line in Brooklyn have existed since the 1920s, as a spur off of a massive trunk line in Bushwick. Then, in 1968, the MTA’s Program for Action saw the proposed Nostrand and Utica Av extensions merged into a single extension of the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line down Flatbush Ave, to where Kings Plaza is today. However, demand for public transit on the corridor has only surged, even as the planned subways never materialized – the B46 on Utica is the city’s 2nd-busiest bus line, with 52K boardings per weekday. To put this in perspective, if the B46 were a light rail line, it would be tied for the tenth-highest ridership in the United States, and it would have the second highest amount of boardings per mile in the United States at 6.7K boardings per mile. This demonstrates more than enough demand for a subway line, as this single, congested bus route has higher ridership than light rail systems over five times its size.
Under Tomorrow’s Subway, a subway line would be built under Utica Avenue.
Branching off of a converted Atlantic Branch, the first phase of the line would extend down to Kings Highway and Farragut Road. A second, later phase would see the Utica Avenue Line extended south to Flatbush, before heading east and terminating at Kings Plaza. At the flying junction with the Atlantic Branch, there would be a stub tunnel heading northwest, should the line be extended northwards in the future.
Such a line would improve commutes for those on the city’s 2nd-busiest bus line, and be the final piece of a Second Avenue Subway system that would run under the two busiest bus routes in New York City (three, if the Bx41, Bx15, and Bx55 are considered one route within one or two blocks of the Park Av Line). Such a system would undoubtedly have high ridership, and would be cost-effective if managed properly.
The Atlantic Branch of the LIRR currently serves trains from all over the system, taking them from Jamaica to Flatbush via two intermediate stops at Nostrand Av and East New York. Upon the completion of East Side Access, the branch will become a Jamaica-Atlantic shuttle, and separate platforms at Jamaica Station will be constructed for this new shuttle. This would make it an ideal candidate for subway conversion – it would serve a densely populated area where subway ridership is growing, and provide the only direct link between two transfer hubs – Jamaica Station and Atlantic Terminal. (Currently, it is possible to do this by taking the (J) and transferring to the (A) at Broadway Junction, but the (A) misses Atlantic Terminal and has poor connections with non-IND lines.)
Upon a conversion to subway service, additional infill stations would be built at Utica Av, Crescent St, Woodhaven Blvd, and Lefferts Blvd, providing “express” service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal.
This would be a matter of rejigging electrical systems, extending the platforms to the length of a ten-car Division B train (approximately 600 ft), and constructing infill cut-and-cover stations. An initial service could be run between Atlantic Center and Jamaica, with provisions for a future Utica Avenue Line. Long term, Tomorrow’s Subway would see such a line extended westwards to the Hanover Square terminus of the SAS, with a new station at Smith St and Atlantic Avenue. Such a connection would provide a relief route for the (A) and (C) in Brooklyn (which are currently constrained due to the shared Cranberry St Tunnel) and provide express service from Downtown Brooklyn to Jamaica, which currently does not exist due to the lack of a third track along the (J)/(Z).
In the future, this line would be used as the SAS’s Brooklyn trunk line, and provide a Manhattan connection for the future Utica Avenue Line.
There has been a significant gap in north-south Bronx service since the removal of the Third Ave El in the Bronx in 1973. Since then, local and limited buses have helped to fill the gap – 71K bus riders a day ride buses closely paralleling parts, or all of the old El, with the Bx41 on Webster and the Bx15 and 55 on Third Av handling the bulk of the ridership.
Currently, the MTA and NYCDOT are planning a Bx41 SBS to increase capacity in the area, but this is not enough – under Tomorrow’s Subway, the SAS would be extended under the MNRR right-of-way on Park Av.
Both of the parallel bus corridors on Webster Av and Third Av are narrow, and cut-and-cover would be extremely disruptive and require expensive utility relocation. By contrast, the MNRR right-of-way likely does not have utilities located under the railroad tracks. Thus, the MNRR between Melrose and Williamsbridge would be suspended either over the weekends or for an extended period of a few months for construction of the Park Av Line. The existing tracks would be ripped out, and a trench 20 feet deep would be dug in the place of the former trackbed. The trench would then be decked over, and tracks would be relaid to allow for the resumption of MNRR service. During this construction period, MNRR service between Melrose and Williamsbridge would be provided by two shuttle bus services – one nonstop service between the two stations, and one stopping at all stations, both running on Webster Av.
Its location between the two busiest north-south bus corridors in the area would guarantee a large amount of ridership, and potential riders could also be siphoned off of the farther Bx32 and Bx17. This would speed up commutes for the thousands of commuters using the north-south buses in the area every day, and could be the spark for intense development in the area. It would also replace the subway service that was lost over 40 years ago.
The current Second Avenue Subway runs as a two-track subway down Second Avenue, eventually extending from Hanover Square downtown to 125th St and Park in Harlem. Projected to serve over 560,000 riders when fully built out, it will finally fill a gap left by the destruction of the Second and Third Av Els in Manhattan over 55 years ago. Such a line has been in the works since 1929, but various economic and fiscal crises have prevented the plan’s realization until now.
Despite the fact that it is long overdue and needs to be built as quickly as possible, there are two major flaws in the current SAS plan.
1. Transfers suck.
The SAS will skirt many transit hubs – 59th/Lex, 53rd/Lex, Grand Central, Union Square, Fulton St, and South Ferry. The MTA currently only plans transfers at 125th St, 55th (to 53rd), Grand Central, 14th St, Houston St, and Grand St. Riders from the West Side, Astoria, or most parts of Brooklyn will not have direct transfers to the SAS despite the proximity of certain stations to existing ones.
2. Long inter-station gaps.
The SAS is only two tracks – to reduce the impact on travel times, the line’s stop spacing has been lengthened in some parts. However, the stop spacing is too high in some cases – 14 blocks between 86th and 72nd, 17 blocks between 72nd and 55th, 13 blocks between 55th and 42nd, and 14 blocks between 14th St and Houston St. These long inter-station gaps would prevent the establishment of transfers and would bypass areas with huge ridership potential – Midtown East and the Lower East Side.
Under Tomorrow’s Subway, the trunk would be modified to solve these issues.
Stations would be added at 79th St, 60th St, 52nd St, and St. Mark’s Pl. 79th St would provide additional coverage in the Upper East Side, while 60th would provide a transfer to the (N)(R) at 59th/Lex and 52nd would provide a transfer to the (E)(M) at 53rd/Lex. A station at St. Mark’s Pl would also provide service to the underserved Lower East Side, and a transfer could also be added between Wall St on the (2)(3) and Hanover Square.
As part of a phase 3B, the SAS would be extended west under 125th to Broadway, and phase 3C would see the SAS extended north to 3rd Av/149th St on the (2)(5). These two extensions would generate massive amounts of ridership – 32K bus riders use the 125th St buses every day, and the (2) and (5) are crushloaded during peak hours. These modifications would greatly boost already-high ridership estimates on the SAS, and would allow SAS to serve as a true Lexington Av relief line.
The Second Avenue Subway was first proposed as the IND’s East Side trunk line in 1929, when the IND first proposed its gargantuan Second System expansion. A six-track line, it would’ve provided capacity for links to various new lines in the outer boroughs. In anticipation of this line, the Second Avenue and Third Avenue Els were torn down, and a massive Upper East Side building boom ensued. However, it was not to be – the line has been plagued with many false starts, most notably during the city’s fiscal crisis in the 70’s. At the same time, however, the parallel Lexington Avenue Line has become the only trunk line serving the East Side. Coupled with the massive increase in density since the demolition of the Els, this has led to an increasingly untenable situation – the Lexington Avenue line carries more riders than the entire Washington Metro system, and more than the rail systems of San Francisco and Boston combined. Local buses in the area are similarly congested, forcing the MTA to establish a psuedo-BRT route on Second and First Avenues. To relieve this crowding, the MTA opened studies into the Second Avenue Subway in the 1990s, leading to construction of the current project.
The current plan is for a fully accessible, two-track line running from 125th and Park Avenue to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan, to be built in four phases. Phase I is under construction, and will be completed in 2016, stretching from the 63rd St/Lexington Avenue station to 96th St and Second Avenue. Phase II is being studied, and will extend from 96th St to a station at 125th St and Park Avenue. Phase III will see the SAS extended south from 72nd St to Houston St, and Phase IV will see the completion of the segment to Hanover Sq. The total length of the new subway will be 8.5 miles, at a projected cost of over $17B for the whole project. This comes out to a mind-numbing $2B/mi, making the SAS the most expensive transit project in recorded history. Despite its shortcomings, however, the full-length SAS should be built – ridership on the completed line is projected to be 560,000 per day. Even then, in spite of the favorable ridership forecasts, the full-length SAS would still have three major flaws:
1. It puts off a connection to the Bronx for at least another generation.
The SAS will end at a new station at 125th St between Lexington and Park Av, to provide connections to the (4), (5), (6), and MNRR. While this serves as a useful transfer point for the initial portions of SAS, it is unclear if a provision for extension to the Bronx will be provided. Even if it is, however, the extreme cost of the SAS would probably prevent the city and MTA from funding yet another SAS extension for at least several years, and residents of the Bronx would have to deal with the consequences of tearing down the Third Av El for much longer.
2. Stop spacing is awful, and transfers are inconvenient.
Stop spacing on the Midtown segments of the line are extremely large – in particular, there is a 13-block gap from 42nd to 55th, 22-block gap from 55th to 72nd, a 14-block gap from 72nd to 86th, and from 14th St to Houston St. These would be some of the longest interstation distances in the system, and to compound the error, they would be in some of the busiest segments of Second Avenue. Transfers are also inconvenient – however, this has more to do with the fact that the East River lines have to bore underground a lot, so they cannot have stations relatively close to the water.
3. The SAS, as currently planned, can only host a limited amount of services.
When most people complain about SAS’s planned scope, they’re either whining about the stop distances in Midtown, or the fact that SAS is only two tracks. Two tracks, however, does not mean that the service frequency on the line itself is poor – if outfitted with CBTC, the SAS will have a theoretical capacity of 40TPH, with a possible maximum of 48TPH. However, there is a lack of destinations to run such high levels of service to – the (Q) can only run a certain amount of TPH due to its shared trackage with the (N) and the (B). In addition, upon the completion of Phase III, a connection from the 63rd St tunnel will not be usable – as it stands right now, Queens Blvd has no additional trunk capacity, and there are no additional plans to build any new trunk capacity in Queens to hold a Second Avenue service. Demand will also be limited by the fact that it will be one of the only services in Downtown that does not continue south into Brooklyn – only two such services exist, and one, the (E), is saved from irrelevance only because to the massive crush of riders from Queens Blvd.
In contrast, the trunk Lexington Avenue Line has three branches into the Bronx, and two trunks into Brooklyn. Until the SAS develops such a wide array of services, it will never live up to its true potential as a Lexington Avenue reliever.
Thus, the project needs some rethinking – both in terms of the current project, and the future scope of such a project.
Under Tomorrow’s Subway, the SAS would become another vital trunk line in the subway system. Three services would operate – a (Q) service from Gun Hill Rd to Brighton Beach via the Broadway Line, a (T) service from 125th St and Broadway to Jamaica Center via a converted Atlantic Branch, and a (V) service from Hillside Avenue to Kings Plaza via a new Utica Av Line. The following components would need to be built for such services to exist:
These extensions will provide efficient subway connections from the outer reaches of underserved areas in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn to the Financial District, Midtown, and the Upper East Side.