A transit wish list for wealthier times.
Mayor Bill de Blasio finally upped his transportation rhetoric and proposed an expansion to the New York City subway system—or, at least, a study of one—as part of his ambitious OneNYC plan. At the moment there's no word on how de Blasio can pay for the new project (may we suggest congestion fares?). But in honor of hizzoner's bold move, we've compiled a short list of subway lines we'd love to see in New York, drawing largely from the phenomenal future-transit maps by Andrew Lynch (aka Vanshnookenraggen).
Utica Line (Brooklyn)
As part of OneNYC, de Blasio has resurrected the idea of a new line down Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. The project itself has been around the block; it's been hyped in the headlines as far back as 1910. Joseph Raskin, who wrote a book about unbuilt subway lines, told the Times that Utica has always seemed like "one of the lines that should have been built all along." Lynch's proposal of having the trains run along the roofs of commercial buildings in the corridor seems highly unlikely, but the prospect of capturing funding via real estate development along Utica is a promising one.
Triboro RX (Bronx-Queens-Brooklyn)
Initially proposed by the Regional Plan Association back in 1996, the so-called "X line" was revived just before the last mayoral election. The Triboro RX doesn't seem to be on de Blasio's radar, but by connecting the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn it would accomplish his stated mission of transit equity for the outer boroughs. Preliminary ridership estimates suggest it could carry upwards of 76,000 a day, with much of the right-of-way already secured. As Jeff Zupan of RPA told us in 2013, the Triboro RX "has all the makings of being a real winner."
10th Avenue (Manhattan)
The 7 train is being expanded to reach 10th Avenue and Hudson Yards in Manhattan, but the truth is the entire far west side could benefit from a north-south subway line. This part of the city is booming, but the 1, 2, and 3 lines that reach the Upper West Side via Broadway are already jam-packed, and below midtown they aren't easy to reach from 10th anyway. Lynch sees the 10th line as a possible extension of the L train; in some renderings, he even has it crossing Central Park at 86th Street to connect with the Upper East Side. If only.
2nd Avenue Extension (Manhattan)
The 2nd Avenue subway is currently under construction on Manhattan's east side, but lest we forget, the project is far from finished. Even after the first phase is built, from 57th to 96th streets, there are three other phases needed to bring the trains north to 125th Street and south into Lower Manhattan. Writing here last year, Ben Kabak estimated the rest of project could cost upwards of $20 billion—and that's not counting future maintenance—with nothing but the current stage funded. It's a price the city both can't afford to pay, and can't afford not to.
Queens Superexpress (Queens)
The growth of Queens Boulevard "has put a strain on not just one subway line but all four East River tunnels headed into midtown," writes Lynch. For a solution to this problem in a relatively transit-starved part of the city, he turns to an idea from the 1950s: a Queens Superexpress line that connects the far eastern parts of the outer borough with Manhattan. The good news, he reports, is that the East River tunnel at 63rd street was originally built to hold such a line but the money ran out first. That, of course, is this wish list's sadly recurring theme.