Second Ave. subway delivers in year one

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Ridership at adjacent Lexington Avenue stops down significantly since Second Avenue line opened


  • More than 28 million passengers passed through the turnstiles of the Second Avenue subway during its first year in service. Photo: Steven Strasser

The first phase of the Second Avenue subway took nearly a century to build. But once the new line finally opened on New Year’s Day 2017, it had an immediate impact on New York City’s transportation system.

During its first year in operation, the Second Avenue subway succeeded in achieving one of its chief objectives — easing the burden on the overcrowded Lexington Avenue line a few blocks west. Ridership data released this month by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority showed that the number of passengers catching 4, 5 and 6 trains at Upper East Side stops dropped by roughly a quarter from 2016 to 2017.

The 68th Street-Hunter College stop on the 6 train saw the most significant decline of any station, with more than 30 percent fewer riders passing through its turnstiles on an average weekday.

Roughly 90,000 riders entered the four new stations on the Second Avenue subway each weekday, with over 28,000 riders catching the Q train at 72nd Street, the busiest stop. Total ridership on the Second Avenue subway — which includes entries, exits and transfers from other lines — was 190,000 when it was last tallied by the MTA in October 2017, just shy of the 200,000 average weekday riders projected before the line opened.

The MTA released new details this month regarding the second phase of the Second Avenue subway project, which would extend the line north to 125th Street. According to the transit authority, construction on three new stations at 106th, 116th and 125th Streets could be completed by 2029. Federal funding necessary to complete the extension has yet to be fully secured. Early estimates peg the cost of phase two at $6 billion; work on phase one lasted 10 years and cost $4.5 billion.

Michael Garofalo:

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