The futureNYCSubway: the vanshnookenraggen plan

The futureNYCSubway: the vanshnookenraggen plan

The Map

In the drop down menu at the top of this site there is a new link for the futureNYCSubway series. When you click on it you will be brought to a giant map of New York City with the current subway and proposed extensions. Everything which is on that map I’ve explained in previous posts and I hope to soon ad a feature where you can click on the map to visit a description of the line I propose.

An Explanation

I started doing research for this series about 5 years ago after completing my futureMBTA project. I made a few maps but I soon realized just how ambitious it would be to come up with a plan since New York’s subway system is so impressive and has such a byzantine history.

Many people, when I’ve shown them my ideas, usually express similar feelings: this is great but this will never happen. I don’t make plans with the idea that this is something that will happen, more that these are ideas that could, maybe even should happen, but ultimately these are ideas to inspire others of what might actually be possible. Of course there are so many factors which contribute to a project of this size, one look at the history of the Second Ave Subway tells the tale perfectly.

Too many people see these plans in the present context of the way things work in New York (city and state) and how the MTA runs the system. The MTA is a man made structure and is imperfect. This should not dissuade others from trying to push for something better. If subway expansion can not happen in the current political climate then how do we create a climate in which such expansion could be feasible?

Another perceived issue which comes up to thwart expansion is the seemingly immovable object known as the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). While it is true that much of the current system was built when the city was still farmland, this doesn’t mean that it is now impossible to build a subway. New highways in cities are much more disruptive than a subway or even a light rail line. While no one can deny that construction is a nuisance, it is a small inconvenience in the big picture (and these inconveniences can be mitigated with diligent public outreach).

My modus operendi for all subway expansion plans I have laid out in this plan is real estate development. Remember, while the subways were built to address crowding on the former elevated and streetcar lines in the city, the main goal was to open up new areas of the city for development. Much of the land which was opened up was owned by the very companies which were building the lines as a way of making once cheap, undesirable land closer to the city (commuting time), thus increasing the land’s value. The problem today is that there are no longer vast tracts of farm land open for development inside the reach of subways.

But, while we can no longer keep going out, we can keep going up. In the last decade New York City has seen an increase in population such that the city now has a higher population than ever before; this is something no other post-industrial city which saw massive population drain after World War II can say. Planners expect an increase in population of a million people in the next 20 years. Even with this current economic slump these numbers seem plausible. While the mayor has spent millions on making the city more livable, he has only laid a small foundation when it comes to preparing the city’s transportation infrastructure for 1 million new residents.

This isn’t to say Mayor Bloomberg hasn’t done anything, in fact he has one of the most impressive records in terms of transportation improvements in generations. The Second Ave Subway, the 7 Line Extension, the East Side Access project, and the new Hudson River rail tunnel are quite a staggering list of projects to start in 8 years and he is to be commended. But a closer look at these projects reveals a lack of foresight in these projects which may leave the transportation infrastructure bottlenecked in the not too distant future.

The 7 Line Extension does not contain space for a station at 41st St and 10th Ave, an area of the city which has seen extreme gentrification and massive new residential towers grow in the last decade. The Second Ave Subway is not being built with space for an express track system which, if it is ever fully built out, will leave the East Side of Manhattan (and presumably parts of the South Bronx) with less than adequate coverage (to compensate for the all-local subway planners have spaced stations further apart, creating a lose-lose situation for people living on the east side of Manhattan.)

What impressed me when I first read about the IND Second System (even the first system, too) was how ambitious and far-sighted it was. Money wasn’t as much of a factor in the design because it was more important to serve as much of the city as possible (which isn’t to say money was no factor at all; in fact the stark modernist stations with little decoration was the city’s way of cutting cost). Today subway plans are continually cut back or castrated due to cost to the point where they can cause overcrowding problems on trains or, conversely, stunt growth in areas where stations were cut for budgetary reasons. The Second Ave Subway is a perfect example of this lack of foresight.

Many words have been written over the last decade about the lack of ambitious, large scale transportation plans. We look to the other side of the world and see how China is building whole subway and train systems from scratch in the time it takes for out paperwork to get through the labyrinth of our bureaucracy. This, or course, is due mostly to the fact that after World War II cities let the bulldozers loose for one large, often Federally funded, project after another in the name of progress. These projects, housing projects, highways, and everything else under the banner of Urban Renewal, shocked the populous who rightfully fought back. But now we see that swinging the pendulum to the other side, away from centralized large scale developments, can create a quagmire in which nothing can get done, even projects with widespread support. The irony is that many of the protesters who fought against Robert Moses and the highway builders wanted more mass transit, but the outcome of this fight was that the very powers which were needed to build more mass transit have been retarded.

Unfortunately I am not here to try and fix these problems. In fact I don’t think I should, as an individual, try. The political system we have is by nature a bottom-up one (as opposed to China’s top-down). I truly feel that the bottom up approach is, ultimately, the better one. The problem is that it takes a long time for change to occur as it takes a long time for a seed to grow into a tree. Changing society to the point where large mass transit projects like the ones I’ve looked at throughout this series are possible will take a generation or two. That may even be a good thing since by then the growth and traffic (as well as other unforeseen problems) will probably reach a tipping point where new subway expansion becomes the only option. The worry is that by that time we don’t know if the power and resources will be available to save us.

I write that last bit with slight trepidation since it is important to keep in mind that every time a new transit project is proposed it’s proponents point to the terrible problems that will occur if the project is not built. All projects are cast in this light, it seems, so I don’t want this series to come off as some sort of high-minded cure for some future dystopia. Many, if not most, of the projects outlined here will never see the light of day and some probably shouldn’t. The city is ever changing and a project which looks great today might not be as beneficial in 25 years.

One last thing I need to address is that throughout this series I haven’t brought up the numbers; what will these expansion plans actually cost? I’m not an engineer and I haven’t the foggiest idea what the raw numbers would be. Much of the cost overruns from projects like the Second Ave Subway or Boston’s Big Dig came from relocating existing utilities, many of which were not on existing maps. Another major factor is that because these projects take so long to complete the cost of materials will fluctuate during construction. Inflation is another major factor, but one which needs to be taken into consideration especially when comparing a new project to a subway which was built 60 years ago. When factoring in inflation the billions it would cost to build the Second Ave Subway are not far off from original estimates from long ago.

Since I’m also not an economist I am not going to try to devise a solution to the numbers problem. Like I said, the point of this series was not to devise a plan which would get built but rather try to create a plan which would inspire those in power, those with the technical knowledge, to find solutions to the problems of building such a system. In the past we seemed to have understood how to do great things but today we can hardly balance a budget and keep roads paved. The Vanshnookenraggen Plan for the Future of the New York City Subway is a vision of what is possible when we put petty politics aside and work for the greater good.

the vanshnookenraggen plan

I’ve explained in detail all the different plans in past posts so now I want to tie them together into a comprehensive plan. If you are unfamiliar with an extension plan you can link back to the post. I have numbered the different plans in order of which ones could/should be built first.

  1. The Second Ave Subway
    2nd Ave subway alternatives in lower Manhattan.
    image-1473
    2nd Ave subway alternatives in lower Manhattan.

    The most obvious place to start since it is currently under construction, the Second Ave Subway project is today, as it is designed, short sighted. The full subway needs to be built with an express track with connections to the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges; a 2 track subway under Water St to connect with the IND Fulton St subway in downtown Brooklyn, a connection with the IND Queens Blvd Line, and three branches in the Bronx with a third express track.

    The Second Ave Subway is the most important expansion project the city could undertake. The subway is needed to relieve not only the IRT Lexington Ave Line but also relieve pressure from Queens and downtown Brooklyn. Connections to Brooklyn would allow existing trains to be diverted to Second Ave while allowing BMT Broadway and IND 6th Ave trains to run with more frequency.

    As part of the Second Ave Subway the IND Fulton St Subway in southern Queens should be extended as a 4 track subway from Gates Ave under Linden Blvd to the border with Nassau County. A new connection to the Rockaways would be built and the existing elevated tracks through Ozone Park would be demolished.

    Another key part of the Second Ave Subway would be a new crosstown subway under 125th St as an extension of the Q Train (which in the current plan would terminate at 125th-Lexington Ave). A 125th Crosstown Line was proposed in passing by the former CEO of the MTA as a future extension. This extension, to Broadway on the west side, has just as much potential as the rest of the Second Ave project and should be seriously considered in future plans.

  2. Flushing Trunk Line
    Flushing Trunk Line through Queens Plaza and Sunnyside Yards.
    image-1474
    Flushing Trunk Line through Queens Plaza and Sunnyside Yards.

    The fastest growing section of New York City in the last 20 years has been northwester Queens: Astoria, Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights, and Flushing. This area is home to dense immigrant neighborhoods which are more transit dependent than other groups in the city. The area has very good housing stock but is under served by just the IRT Flushing Line 7 train and the IND Queens Blvd Line which swings south after Jackson Heights.

    A new subway, built with 2 local tracks at first but with provisions for a second pair of express tracks, could be one of the best mass transit investments in the nation in terms of dollars per rider. After the IRT Lexington Ave Line the lines which converge at Long Island City are the most congested in the entire system and with the continued population growth in Queens it is projected that these lines will become only more congested.

    The Flushing Trunk Line should be built to provide future expansion into College Point and eastern Queens as well as a future connection to a new crosstown subway in Manhattan. As part of this project the existing IRT Flushing Line 7 Train should be extended east to Bayside, Queens.

  3. Bushwick Trunk Line
    Bushwick Trunk Line track map.
    image-1475
    Bushwick Trunk Line track map.

    It is difficult to recommend the Bushwick Trunk Line as just one entity since it is really six (6!) subways in one. In any other city a proposal of this size and scope would probably be all the city would ever need in terms of subways. Even cities in China which seemingly put up new subway systems overnight would see the Bushwick Trunk Line as a challenge. I’ll break it down into how I think the line should go about being built.

    • Phase 1

      A 6 track “shell” subway (a subway built so that new tracks can be added later) should be built from the Williamsburg Bridge under South 4 St to Union Ave to where there is an existing shell of a station. From here the 6 track “shell” subway would be built out to Myrtle Ave. For the time being only 4 tracks would be activated, a local and an express. The existing Broadway elevated tracks would be demolished from the bridge to Myrtle Ave. After Myrtle Ave the tracks would ascend to the surface and continue along the existing tracks along Myrtle Ave and Broadway.

    • Phase 2

      Extend 4 tracks from Myrtle Ave & Broadway under Myrtle Ave out to Fresh Pond Rd in Ridgewood. For the time being only 2 tracks would be used and the existing Myrtle Ave elevated tracks would be demolished (a connection to the Fresh Pond train yards would be constructed along the existing train tracks through Fresh Pond).

      Bushwick Trunk Line with alternative routings.
      image-1476
      Bushwick Trunk Line with alternative routings.
    • Phase 3

      Construct what is known as the Utica Ave Subway. Branching off the BMT Canarsie Line a 2 track subway under Bushwick Ave would connect with the lower level of the station at Myrtle Ave & Broadway. Past Myrtle Ave a 4 track subway would turn south along Reid Ave to Fulton St and then on to Eastern Parkway.

      After Eastern Parkway the subway would be extended south along Utica Ave to a point in Flatlands, Brooklyn (such as Flatbush Ave). At some point a new connection between Manhattan and Williamsburg would be needed to accommodate service along the Utica Ave Line. A subway under East Broadway or a branch off of the IND 6th Ave Line under East Houston St would travel under the East River to connect with the 6 track subway at South 4th St.

    • Phase 4

      Construct a branch off of the IND Crosstown Line (G Train) which would continue east along Lafayette St to Broadway where it would turn north to connect with the Myrtle Ave Subway. From Fresh Pond Rd the 4 track subway would be extended out to Queens Blvd in Kew Gardens, Queens and eventually further east along Union Turnpike. As traffic demands, the line would be extended further east to the border with Nassau County.

    • Phase 5

      Add a second tunnel under the East River and build out a 4 track subway under Bushwick Ave to Broadway Junction which would replace the existing Broadway elevated tracks.

  4. Crosstown Manhattan & Trans-Hudson Lines
    10th Ave Subway and Crosstown alternatives.
    image-1477
    10th Ave Subway and Crosstown alternatives.

    Currently the IRT Flushing Line (7 Train) is being extended west from Times Sq to 10th Ave and south to 34th St but like the Second Ave Subway project this extension is being built in a way which will hurt the city in the future. A station at 10th Ave was discarded due to budget cuts and is an example of the totally backwards (e.g. suburban) way that transit planners/city officials are thinking about this project. A new station is being built in an area where no development will get off the grown for years to come but a station was cut for an area with an existing commuter base and massive new developments already under construction or open.

    I am placing a new crosstown subway this low on the priority list because development on the Far West Side will take so long. A new subway under 50th St from 10th Ave to Long Island City will take pressure off of existing subways in Long Island City and bring commuters directly into the midtown Central Business District. A similar line was planned in the 1960s and 70s but budget problems killed the project. Eventually this line should be connected with the BMT 14th St-Canarsie Line to create a loop through the Far West Side, but this is dependent on new traffic from developments like the Hudson Yards which are years away.

    As for new subway lines crossing the Hudson River into New Jersey, these are complicated by jurisdictional problems. If these can be overcome them the best options for new trans-Hudson subway service would be along the George Washington Bridge and an extension of the IRT Flushing Line into Hoboken and Jersey City, NJ.

  5. Staten Island Subway
    Brooklyn connections to a subway to Staten Island
    image-1478
    Brooklyn connections to a subway to Staten Island

    While it would be faster to build a new line either under the harbor or through Bayone, NJ, it would ultimately be cheaper to build an extension of the BMT 4th Ave Line or of the IND Culver Line. A branch of the Culver Line was proposed in the IND Second System and would be the best option in terms of cost and capacity. The Culver Line has an unused express track which could be activated so that commuters could quickly travel from Staten Island to downtown Brooklyn and midtown Manhattan. A direct route from Staten Island to downtown Manhattan would bypass a potential employment destination in downtown Brooklyn (which today is most easily reached by car). A Culver Line extension would also allow for easy transfers to 8th Ave trains at Jay St and would allow the most flexibility in terms of routing.

    On Staten Island itself I would recommend building a new subway through the center of the northern side of the island. Some plans have called for converting the Staten Island Railroad to subway clearances but I feel like it (the SIRR) works fine as it is now and that a new subway, perhaps along Victory Blvd or Forest Ave. This, however, would not be needed for some time to come and a subway terminal around St. Georges Ferry Terminal would suffice until commuting patterns justify an extension.

    Besides a new subway, the North Shore of the Staten Island Railroad should be reactivated, either with existing rolling stock or with light rail.

  6. TriboroRX and Atlantic Ave Super-Express
    The Atlantic Ave Super-Express through Broadway Junction.
    image-1479
    The Atlantic Ave Super-Express through Broadway Junction.

    The Triboro Rx travels against established commuting patterns to the point where ridership would be so low that a better investment would be to build an at grade road along the line for buses and trucks. However, I have included a complete Triboro Rx in my final plans since at some time in the future such a line may be needed and so the right-of-way should be kept up since it is too invaluable as a transit corridor not to consider. Because the line cuts through so many different parts of the city it could, conceivably, be built in sections where traffic demands (such as a crosstown shuttle in the south Bronx).

    The Atlantic Ave Super-Express Line would be a better project since it runs along established commuting patters but it would also cut back LIRR capacity and run parallel existing subway service. The benefit to such a line would be for better expansion of subway service into Jamaica since existing lines would make such a commute painfully long. The Atlantic Ave Super-Express would also allow for the existing elevated tracks through eastern Brooklyn to be demolished and replaced with faster service, both local and express, into the city.


The futureNYCSubway

  1. Introduction
  2. IND Second System
  3. Post War Expansion
  4. The Second Ave Subway: History
  5. The Second Ave Subway: To The Bronx and the Nassau Line
  6. Brooklyn: Bushwick Trunk Line
  7. Manhattan: West Side and Hudson Crossings
  8. Queens: Flushing Trunk Line
  9. Staten Island: The Last Frontier
  10. TriboroRX and Atlantic Ave Super-Express
  11. Conclusion: the vanshnookenraggen plan

39 comments on “The futureNYCSubway: the vanshnookenraggen planAdd yours →

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  1. Andrew, I gotta say you’ve done an excellent job with this series. I applaud you very much. The A line should be extended from 207st to Riverdale 263st in The Bronx. and many more. Apart from that, you did good. Keep up the good work!!!
    Your Truly
    Jeremy.

  2. This has been an excellent series for future proposed subway lines. I think you
    should send these proposals to the MTA or other elected officials, if you can.
    The way they are planning the Second Ave Subway is ridiculous. It makes no sense
    that the stations are so far from each other. The MTA should build the line with
    local and express service. The local service should make almost the same stops that the #6 train makes. Good Luck to you.

  3. The ideas are wonderful but as you indicate costs have not been factored.
    In trying to get the best bang for each buck we need to try to use exising resources.

    *the existing 42nd street shuttle tracks should be extended to queens and used in some combintion of service to the airports, much more frequent service on the port washington lirr through conversion to subway usage, and reactivation and use of the rockaway brank of the lirr by the subway system

    *the jfk airtrain has show that a elevated line (especially when over a highway) is not the rusting eyesore of the els of yesterday and are less costly than subway construction. (The visual stimuli of trains passing as traffic is backed up also encourages mass transit.) As such, lines over the grand central parkway in astoria to laguadia airport and beyond, and the long island expressway should be considered. Lines over the Whitestone and Clearview expressways (both tying into to the 7/converted port washingon lirr line) should be looked into as well.

    *through service should be provided between queens and brooklyn to NJ. Not connecting the lexingon ave irt and the path trains at the wtc post 911 was a terrible mistake. NJ would have been put in reach of the east side hospitals, museums and yankee stadium and the whole region would have benefitted.

    *one track monorail shuttles radiating from stations can provide much wider area of service.

    *as the new tapanzee bridge is designed, consideration should be given to providing more lanes so as allow conversion of 2 or more lanes of/on the gorge washington bride to mass transit usage. A subway of the GW bridge should not terminate in fort lee but should be extended (most likely along I-80) as a elevated line to try to attract as much ussage as possible.

    *as subways are cheaper to operate than commuter rail, consideration should be given to what lines should give up their limited freight to enable free from federal control by conversion to subway use.

  4. Doing anything with the 42nd St Shuttle is a non-starter since it runs at the same level as the current Grand Central subway concourse. Since the 7 Train already runs to Queens it doesn’t really make sense to duplicate the service when the Shuttle already fills it’s niche nicely.

    Running the AirTrain on elevated tracks is very different than running heavy rail. The subway trains are much heavier and would require much larger elevated structures which may be just as visually intrusive as the existing tracks. Running them along highway medians are not a bad idea but one which will not be made easy or cheap given how Robert Moses built his roads specifically so that mass transit could not be run down their ROW.

    I agree that not connecting subways to New Jersey has been a mistake since day 1 (so… since 1904).

    I think monorails are a non-starter as well. Light rail in the outer boros or at the very least BRT would work much better and be much cheaper.

    One of the proposed New Tapan-zee Bridge designs does provide space for expanded lanes (or additional mass transit) but I don’t know how realistic it would be to think that these lanes would provide enough relief to the GWB. I do agree with you that any subway should be extended further into NJ. This was not something I gave much thought to while writing this series.

  5. I just completed reading your series and it is absolutely impressive. The culmination of so many past expansion proposals, as well as the analysis of their merit, into a single, comprehensive plan is highly imaginative and can serve as a guidebook on how NYC can approach their current transit expansion ideas.

    It’s so unfortunate how we aren’t thinking big anymore and are constructing short-sighted projects that limit our ability to handle our city’s growth. As daunting to implement as this plan may seem, it’s important for us transit lovers and inhabitants of this great city to look beyond the status quo and push for something greater than what is being handed to us. These posts go a long way in opening our minds to the possibilities for our transit system if we are able muster up the will.

  6. I agree. I really think it is a societal problem. We, as in this generation, have been coasting on the accomplishments of past generations for so long that I just don’t know if we are capable of great things anymore. It bugs me to no end when I hear cheerleaders yelling about America being the best country when in fact no one seems to have to guts to do what is really needed to keep the country running properly. Democrats want to give us all these great social programs (that the majority of people actually want) but don’t have the balls to ask us to pay for it. Republicans want to dismantle government and let the free market take course. Neither extreme will work and the fighting is what will ultimately bring us down. We as a nation have become so spoiled that we expect others to carry the burden for us.

    To be frank, I don’t think we as a society are capable of building big like this. Not because we lack a vision but because we lack the foundation in reality to confront large issues/projects as adults. I just see this country as a bunch of spoiled kids expecting others to pay for all the things we want. We are only beginning to confront these problems now and I fear that things are going to get much worse before we will wake up and do what is needed. A subway expansion project like this won’t even be necessary if we can’t change our unsustainable economic and fiscal course.

  7. I believe the Great Recession was a wake up call, albeit one that was blunted by bank bailouts and unsustainable (both fiscally and environmentally) government spending. Having graduated college at the height of the recession, I can attest that my generation is well aware of the follies of “Generation Greed.” We’re suffering through or witnessing high-levels of unemployment, debt, foreclosure and the destruction of our environment and are apt not to continue with the same mentality that got us here.

    Today’s educated young adults are leading the way back into our city cores. Many of us (but not me) were forced to live through the disheartening staleness of suburbia and have rediscovered urbanity. I only have to look out the window of my Brooklyn apartment to see how the youth is flocking to the city while older generations still cling to the suburbia as the “American Dream” ideals.

    A great sign of how differently today’s young adults think was the election of the first African-American president and first urban president in decades. Obama’s campaign was energized by college students and young adults in cities and drew the youth vote at unprecedented levels. They are even barely involved in the mid-term backlash against Obama; that’s mostly led by the old guard Tea Partiers.

    Once today’s young adults become the generation in power, there will be a shift to investing in our cities once again. Our government debt levels and anti-urban infrastructure already in place are a cause for concern, but that’s why it’s important to keep challenging people to think big. If there’s a will, we can find our way around these problems.

  8. Interesting map of proposals. If the C train was extended further into NJ where would a good terminus be? I was thinking Hackensack, Garden State Plaza (built in the basement) or Paterson.

    Of course these ideas are mostly likely stupid but just my two cents.

  9. I’ve been thinking about adding subway lines to New Jersey. I’m not sure if it would make sense to run express trains out there or to have it a separate system, such as an expanded PATH system. While it would be much more convenient for commuters to do it that way, it would radically change train operations to the point where it might just be easier to have a separate system (with free transfers in an ideal world).

  10. Great job on this, Andrew! We’d probably hardly even recognize this city if our leadership was only half as visionary!

    Can’t think of much to add; just one thing I just noticed is that you’ve got both Sixth Avenue services (B/F) run express on the Culver Line. If I remember correctly, having Manhattan bound services skip Park Slope local stops was one of the reasons why the original Culver express got shuttered after only eight years in 1976.

  11. Thanks! The Culver Line is actually something I struggled with. They just didn’t design it right. I tired to maximize capacity within each line and while this configuration works on paper I know it wouldn’t fly in real life. Ideally there would just be three trains, F and G local and the B express. It’s a tricky situation.

  12. I have to say that this is the most beautiful proposal map I have ever seen!!! People that live in New York City are not the only ones that work there! Like a previous comment said, not connecting the lines to the outer boroughs and beyond was a mistake since the very first day!
    There are way too numerous gaps in the subway system that clog all rails. I completely agree with you on your proposal of adding express tracks as well to the Second Avenue System because it will not do much if it does not offer an option for people to arrive at point B quicker.

  13. Thank you very much for all the work you put in on this. It obviously was a labor of love. I hope someday we find the path to putting 200% of our GMP into doing what’s so desperately needed, changing the zoning laws to encourage the mixed-use densities we’ll need to support our growing population and bring housing costs under control. We need to tie ourselves to the surrounding areas even tighter through these transit links, and re-institute the commuter tax. I’d love to see the PATH and MTA become a common one-fare zone, even if it meant raising fare prices. My pulse quickened when I first read someone was at least pretending to take seriously the idea of running the 7 train into Secaucus. We need more of that, not less. The Port Authority has inhibited the further integration of the NYC metropolitan area, and that needs to be fixed. Here’s to super-expresses and the South 4th Street station! I don’t understand why unused/abandoned ROW options haven’t already been grabbed off the shelves. It demonstrates our society’s weakness that we can’t better embrace our future together, instead of looking for reasons to divide and distrust.

  14. These are nice proposals but some of them, I doubt some of the proposals can be built. You can also try the website http://www.nycsubway.org and look for the second avenue subway timeline and the history of the Independent Subway Document and other documents. You’ll be very surprise of how many proposals and changes they made.

  15. your thoughts are amazing and i support them all. The one ONE thing we do need though is a train that runs from the east to west side of the Bronx, or atleast have the 6 make a connection some where. Its very un-convenient to have to go to 125 to even get on the other trains. Im also for the 2nd ave line to go to co-op or throggs neck those two are very dead areas and need more transportation.

  16. I have two ideas.One is to build a 2 track subway down Nostrand Avenue from Williamsburg to Sheepheadbay.I suggest this because people in that area of Sheepsheadbay might as well be iscolated since there are no train serving that area,except for the Brighton line.My scond suggeston is for a BMT line along Myrtle ave. I proposed this and another line on another page,hese two lines in bed stuy are needed.And for the 2nd idea the other line after the myrtle line is your choice.

  17. The first one I try to address in the Franklin Ave Shuttle post. If you were to connect the IND Crosstown line at Bedford-Nostrand to the Franklin Ave shuttle (via a new subway) you would then have a line from LIC to Brighton Beach. But I still have doubts as to the necessity of this kind of service. The money would be better spent by extending the 2/5 trains south on Nostrand (maybe building an express track while they’re at it).

    I’ve also been playing with the idea for a subway under Myrtle. It would connect to the R under Willoughby and swing north under Ft Greene Park to run under Myrtle. I wonder though with the gentrification in the area if a subway under Flushing Ave would be better? There is probably more development opportunity along Flushing Ave and it would spread out the subway coverage better than along Mrytle (which isn’t that far from Lafayette).

    Any of these will be generations off. What needs to be done first (or second after finishing the 2nd Ave subway) is building a new tunnel under the East River to Williamsburg. The gentrification is only going to continue to spread and there needs to be a long term investment in infrastructure. Building the Bushwick Trunk Line, in phases, should be the next priority if the city is going to expand. The plan connects north Brooklyn to Midtown, Downtown, and downtown Brooklyn and also gets rid of the existing elevated train which depresses real estate values.

    Thinking about it more realistically it would make the most sense to connect the 2nd Ave subway to the J/M/Z off the Williamsburg Bridge. The BMT Centre St subway was built for a demand that long ago diminished. Rebuild the subway under Delancey St so that 2nd Ave trains split, one going west and south to Chambers St and the other going east to Williamsburg.

  18. Hello Andrew,

    I love your work. I’m a current Hunter student and I love your recommendations about the Second Avenue Subway extensions. I’m planning to write a research paper on the Second Avenue Subway. If possible, could we meet to discuss your work more?

  19. Everything about this post is just… wow. This is so big and bold (and in my small, provincial mind, unrealistic) and it would be really nice to have all this stuff :O
    (Although I must say, this would be an organizational nightmare for anyone involved)

    A couple of things though. Despite my terrifying commute from where the 268th St station is, I don’t think a lot of these plans would be realistic. I know these plans are supposed to be for real estate development, but the outer ends of all these lines are currently an hour away from Manhattan, which is already a long time compared to other cities in the rest of the world. The subway extensions, I’m guessing, would make the journey time to the new ends of their lines in an hour and 20 minutes, which isn’t exactly going to entice anyone when these destinations are 40 minutes away by car.

    Personally, I would combine the Union and Hillside lines together (the two avenues are at a minimum, two blocks away from each other, which I don’t think is found anywhere else in your map outside of Manhattan and the major centers outside of the outer boroughs) by having the F extended to 212th and Hillside, and then swinging it up to Union & Springfield on your map, following your Union Turnpike line until Little Neck Parkway, where it would swing up to hit LIJ just before the city border (It’s a major employment center, and there wouldn’t be a need to deal with the Nassau County authorities).

    I would also run your Flushing trunk line extensions through a four-tracked Flushing line, for a reason that might sound really offensive (but I’m Asian, so that makes it… better?). A significant portion of people boarding at Main Street are going downtown towards the Financial District, Battery Park City, and Chinatown. The Flushing trunk line does not serve any of these trips, and the 7 would still be ridiculously overcrowded. This isn’t a completely insignificant market, because Flushing-Main St is the tenth busiest subway station in the city. To serve these trips, 4-tracking the 7 would be very useful, and could also provide more track capacity for the extensions later on 😀

    Another thing I’d like to point out is that, despite your best intentions, the subway still comes out as overwhelmingly Manhattan centric. I’d suggest a line from Flushing to Jamaica via Main St, as there are four(?) bus lines running very frequently between the two which are always crowded. The two ends of the line could also be extended to Bayside and Southeast Queens, if one really wanted to do so.

    These are just my two cents, and frankly my knowledge of the city is limited to Downtown, Midtown and Eastern Queens, but hopefully this was insightful (or at least a nice diversion from anything you were doing)

    Cheers!

  20. Thanks for the great input Henry. I have to admit since I live in Manhattan my knowledge of some of the more far flung areas of the city is slim to none.

    In one version of the Union Ave/Hillside Ave extensions I do have them meet and continue as one line. There are so many different alignments, many of which would probably make more sense, but I had to choose something that looked more encompassing.

    Great point about the Flushing Trunk Line. Now that I look at it I have all service going, basically, nowhere. However I think it would be very easy just to route a different train, maybe the one going down 2nd Ave. That would certainly do the trick and probably take a lot of pressure off the Lexington Ave line.

    In regards to being Manhattan centric I have to agree. It’s just one of those things that’s tricky since that’s the way the city has developed. Some sort of rail mass transit acting as a ring line around the outer boroughs would be good but the costs would have to be much lower. I’m thinking of doing a piece on bringing back light rail/trolleys to areas of the city that are not as dense. These would serve as feeder lines for subways but also connect areas of the city to the real network, not just buses. A light rail line from Flushing to Jamaica might be the best realistic option.

    Again, thanks for the great input.

  21. I think that this is a great plan. It is certainly not the mismanaged plan of the MTA. I have a some suggestions, though:
    1. I don’t think a Northern Blvd Subway is needed. The Flushing Line is not far away. If you want to have the line serve Whitestone, College Point, and potentially go into The Bronx, the better idea may be to separate the Flushing Line by local and express. The local line can go to Whitestone, College Point, and The Bronx while the express line continues to Bell Blvd.
    2. I think there are an awful lot of changes on the Queens end of the A/C/E/3 lines, even though none of these lines go to JFK airport. I think this could be remedied by extending the 3 to the JFK terminals, extending the C along Liberty Avenue, and keeping the A as a Rockaway only train.
    3. I don’t see the point of the super express trains. They run along the same tracks as LIRR trains, which we need.
    4. I know this is really expensive, but I think an extension of the 1 to Staten Island is needed. It can handle a higher capacity than the ferry.

    Once again, it is overall a great plan. I hope someone someday can do for the subways what Robert Moses did for highways!

  22. I admire how bold your ideas are. My ideal subway system copies a lot from your proposals with some adjustments.

    – Though it seems like the SAS is an integral part of your designs, I’m surprised that none of them branch all that far into Alphabet City or the Lower East Side. Part of that line (which would be four tracks, local and express) would branch east at 14 Street with a stop at Avenue C with the L. Then it would turn south with stops on 8th, Houston, continue on Pitt with a stop on Grand, turn southeast along East Broadway to connect to the F, and down to Chatham Sq to follow your project of the P/Y to South Ferry. Another line on the SAS would flow across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn. Another Second Avenue Line would follow your T up 3rd Avenue, connect with the D and head east down Gun Hill Rd and Bartow Ave to Co-op City, which is desparate for a line to directly service it. Your P train to Throgs Neck I would like completely intact as is.

    – The fact that you torn down some of the older elevated lines came me some interesting ideas. Until the day subways become quiet, elevateds are headaches to live by at times. I would follow your suggestion to tear down the Broadway J/Z and put them under Broadway. Run a SA line up Broadway towards Malcolm X Blvd/Utica Ave and run it all the way south to Mill Basin/ Kings Plaza, which have no trains close to it for miles. I would put the L completely underground and run it past its current end at Rockaway Parkway down Flatlands towards Sheepshead Bay. It would then be able to connect with a 3 train also underground (after Utica) which would also be extended out to Queens, up Linden Blvd (as yours does) but south on Conduit towards the Aqueduct before taking a sharp turn back north on 114th St and east down Linden again out to Queens Village where you have your C/E run.

    I would probably cut the current Lefferts branch, with the A going to Far Rockaway and the C to Rockaway Park at all times. In Astoria, the N would be placed underground and follow your proposal to LaGuardia and then under Flushing Bay to College Point/Bayside along 20th Ave, Francis Lewis Blvd and 26th Ave to Bell Blvd. The 7 would be underground and would run local with a G express from Long Island City up to Main Street extended along Northern Blvd to Douglaston/Little Neck.

    – Many of the lines currently servicing Queens and Brooklyn would be lengthened considerably. The 2/5 down Nostrand would go south to Voorhies Ave in Sheepshead Bay. My proposed F would follow yours down Hillside, as your J does down Hollis (as well as under Atlantic instead off Jamaica). My Z would turn south after Parsons/Archer down Merrick Blvd to the Cross Island Expressway. I like your ideas for the H train, and mines would run down Myrtle as yours but would turn north at Forest Hills, connect to the Queens Blvd lines at 71st Ave and continue east along Jewel before eventually turning back south at Utopia Pkwy, following Union Turnpike to the Queens/Nassau border.

    – I have a somewhat crazy new crosstown, which would service to connect Coney Island to Queens and the Bronx. It would start at Avenue U on the Brighton line and travel with the L east along Avenue U towards Mill Basin, north on Ralph Ave, split from the L and continue east on Flatlands to Fountain Ave in East New York. It would then snake north to follow my elongated 3 train into Queens down Linden, turn north up Guy Brewer Blvd and connect to Jamaica Center. Proceeding up Parsons Blvd (and later 149th Street), it would cut through Kew Gardens, Flushing, and Whitestone before crossing the Long Island Sound ending at your terminal for the P. If my count is right, it could connect the Brighton, Flatbush(2/5 to be extended), Utica, Canarsie, New Lots, Far Rockaway, E/F/J/Z Jamaica, Union Turnpike, Flushing and LaGuardia (N/W) lines together.

  23. I recently discovered your brillant work; congratulations on a job well done, packed with visionary thinking. No proposal should be without criticism, however(and I welcome criticism of my own).
    Granted, your plan addresses the East Side / West Side divide with a 125th St extension crosstown, it does not address the lack of another connection midway to Midtown, which forces one to travel a greater distance to reach one side of town or the other. I would propose (all via subway) your extension of the L/O up Tenth Ave, turning at 81st to connect to the West Side IRT and IND lines before crossing below Central Park and connecting the East Side IRT and Second Ave lines via 86th Street prior to crossing into Queens, where the line could become what you indicate as your N/W extension to La Guardia. That line could continue through Elmhurst to ultimately connect with your proposed O line out to College Point. It would accomplish a few realistic L: 1: some relief of overcrowding on West Side lines; 2: provide convenient transfer between all major east and west side lines 3: provide necessary service to LaGuardia; 4: do so without disrupting or impacting existing N/W service, which, on elevated stuctures, must be showing its age. This would give the MTA a free hand on the eventual fate/replacement of the existing N/W infrastructure; your proposed Bushwick Trunk line would replace the elevated J/M track structures. Surely a city such as NYC that will only continue to gentrify and densify should pursue subway construction whenever possible.
    That said, your original O/L routing better serves the CBD; having been an LA resaident for 20 plus years, I can only recall my crosstown travel frustrations; back then, I could hoof it across the park if need be, but no more.

    Best Regards, DG

  24. Re: posts 12 & 13 – I believe it was a congeries of different problems that did the Culver expresses in. Among other things, Governor Hugh Carey hailed from the Slope, and may have had some influence in making all trains make all stops in order to have it look as though service was added. In addition, there was the fiscal crisis, which would make any savings in state funds to the city (in terms of infrastructural spending and just plain operational spending)for the MTA capable of being applied for other uses (sort of like those sleight-of-hand austerity budgets in the Eurozone today. This would have ruled out the rehabbing of the Bergen St (F lower level) station, which meant that trains leaving Jay St would not stop till 7th Av and hence no transfer to the G for Carroll, Smith-9th, or 4th Av. As well, the question of crewing arose; if the G were extended wouldn’t it need a few more runs per day and a motorman and conductor? And a dedicated tower op at Church? The simplest solution at the time was simply no Culver Express. However, there are those who have expressed the wish to see it return as a rush-hour service, peak service direction to skip Av P, Av N, Bay Pky, Av I, Ditmas, Ft Ham Pky, 15-PP, 4th Av, Smith-9th, Carroll and Bergen, and opposite peak direction (all trains, “local” and express) to skip 4th Av, 15-PP and Ft Ham Pky, with alternate trains making all stops and operating to and from Kings Hy. Midday service could be as “currently”, (G to Smith-9th, all F’s local), or skipping 4th Av, 15-PP and Ft Ham Pky both directions, G to run to Church all day, if there would be demand. It is thought that, just as the re-opening of service on the bridge gave an opening to swapping the B and D lines, the completion of work on the Culver Viaduct and nearby tunnels could usher in new “regular” service on that line. One way it could be done, as in Carey’s day, is to make it LOOK like service is being added, by calling the local train the “V” train. Such a train could also serve on the Queens end as the “local” between 179th and 71st Av while the trains marked “F” would run express. This sort of proposal would need to be costed first, of course, but if the $$$ are there, why not do this plan?

  25. I noticed something that would be very easy to add on to the Astoria line. Once you hit the LaGuardia Airport station, turn southeast and follow 108th st all the way to the Forest Hills Station, if you’re not gonna run the N/Q line way out to Nassau County. There’s a big neighborhood near the World’s Fair area that your plan doesn’t cover, and this would handle it, and also allow a very convenient connection of the Astoria lines and the Queens BLVD lines. If you’re in Astoria trying to get to Jamaica/Forest Hills/Key Garden, you gotta hop 3 trains: N to the 7(at queensboro plaza) to the EFRM (at 74th st/Jackson heights/Roosevelt Av). Going the other direction, you either gotta do that in reverse or ride an express to queens plaza, hop an R to Lexington/59th, and then jump over to a Ditmars bound N/Q, or exit at Queens plaza and hop on the Q101/102/69 which either run up 21st to Ditmars-ish or Steinway st to 3 avenues north of Ditmars blvd.

  26. I’d love to get a large print of your proposed futurenycsubway map, large enough to catch some of the details that distinguish between the proposed and the existing. It looks like 50% zoom on the main image would do it. How large would that be, and would you consider selling prints?

  27. The full sized map is, I think, 14’x14′ or something about that large. I’d love to print it out but because I used Google Maps as the background I can’t. I’m slowly working on making my own base map so I can print it out but it will be some time before I get around to it.

  28. Do you think it is also possible that as a Final Final Proposal that the 6 and 8 trains use the New JErsey PATH right of way to enter new Jersey go south and diverge and enter Staten Island to become Crosstown Staten Island Lines?

  29. This is incredibly thought out. It’s great. In theory, it’s amazing. However, there are things you haven’t taken into consideration.

    You make a funny joke about the South Bronx Bypass to go to Morris Park and Co-op City, referencing it as a suburb in an urban setting. But, the setting of Morris Park is a total Suburb. With access to the city’s East Side by number 5 and 6 Express trains that are at least 20 to 30 minutes away, totaling to an hour and a half at the very least to Midtown, a subway is the least feasible option. Because adding a direct subway line SAS to the East Bronx would just create another hour long option, where most of us residing here would rather sit a one seat ride on an Express Bus, the BxM10, BxM9, BxM8, or BxM7 (the most heavily used in that order in the Bronx), than to endure a one seat subway ride that would take us through dangerous neighborhoods with high crime rates that we’d rather avoid on the late night return trips by subway.

    Second, even if the SAS did extend over to Throgs Neck and Morris Park, we have East Side Access already, what we need is a West Side option which only exists by enduring long bus rides to the 2 train at East 180th Street. The current Penn Station Access Plan under Metro-North would be the best option. It might cement us as a suburban Bronx town when they add the Morris Park, Parkchester, and Co-op City stations on the New Haven line -via Hell’s Gate- to Penn Station, but we will see the fastest commute times to Manhattan possible from the East Bronx, even if someone from Country Club or Throgs Neck has to endure the bus ride to Morris Park or Packchester, a 20-30 minute bus ride on top of a 25 minute train ride to Penn Station is a lot more attractive than that long bus ride, followed by a 50 minute to an hour and 15 minute train ride.

    But, it highly supports your theory of the current SAS being less effective unless a proper and more needed route is established. The Central Bronx route to Gun Hill Road for example is a good idea.
    Maybe leaving the Q train to terminate at West 125th Street and have the T head north into the central Bronx via 3 – Webster Avs to Gun Hill Road, and maybe even across the Bronx to terminate at Co-op City not for city access but for Northern Cross Bronx access which is very limited and only supported by a few congested bus routes, e.g.: Bx12, Bx40/42, Bx26, Bx28/30/38.

  30. Andrew,

    I had an interesting thought, and it was to connect up the 4 train in Brooklyn to Broadway Junction. Just a connection that might be helpful, considering you’ve already put other B Division lines down Utica. From there, I suppose you could have it jog south along Penn, with a transfer to the 3 train at Penn and Livonia, then turn east along Flatlands, continuing along 157th in Queens, then jog south before Cross Bay Blvd, and connect up with the Y at Howard Beach-JFK. That could be the terminus, but this map is as much of a pipedream as bread is a grain, so I will continue. From there, the 4 could jog its way along Lefferts, then Rockaway, then Baisley, then Merrick, and terminate at a station at Merrick and Hook Creek. This would fill a significant gap in service considering how much service you’re proposing for extreme outer Queens. It would also go further to take potential cars off Belt Parkway and Southern State Parkway (not saying there’s a boatload of car usage, just might save the sanity of a couple thousand more Queens residents). And, if there are crowded bus routes, then they’ll benefit, too.

    BTW, some parts of you’re proposal that I personally think should be prioritized to be built, as there pretty sensible (I want all of it, TBH, but we all know that it won’t happen within our lifetime):

    -The remaining parts of the Second Avenue trunk line in Manhattan, as well as most or all of the branches in the Bronx, and the P/Y tunnel under the East River to at least Hoyt/Schermerhorn A/C/G station (that’s a no-brainer, I don’t know why I’m including it)

    -The Bushwick trunk line in Williamsburg, and all of the branches of it– most important of all, the Utica Avenue Subway (I think it will help relieve congestion on the L, and allow more commuters from, say, Broadway Junction and Canarsie, to have a slightly more comfortable ride)

    -The extension of the N (in addition to a reinstated W) to LaGuardia (it would save WAY more time for people arriving there than Cuomo’s Airtrain to Mets-Willets Point on the 7, which, by contrast, would save virtually no time and may even take longer than LaGuardia-Midtown journeys via cab to Uptown and Subway to Midtown
    currently take (pardon the possible bad grammar and syntax))

    -The Far West Side extension of the L/O and further extension to at least Court Square in Queens (including the construction of the 10th Ave/41st St station on the 7/L/O)

    -The extension of the 7 train through Flushing to at least Northern Blvd and 162nd Street

    These altogether could cost at least $100B in today’s money, but I think they’re vital to the continued growth of the Big Apple. And I think they balance the investment between 4 of the boroughs quite nicely.

    BTW, I’m from the DC area. I’ve made a few of my own pipedream maps of the Metro here, the most ambitious being on the scale of Beijing or Shanghai as they are now (about 17-18 lines, and I put so much within the District that Congress might as well just remove the height limit).

  31. Oh, and might I add, maybe you could figure out a way to provide a hair more service to the Lower East Side (likely a north-south route).

  32. I got another idea (similar to @Mark Masters).

    How about extend the A along the Bx12 Bus Route? (as far as Pelham Parkway on the 5, and then down Williamsbridge to the 6, and further down Tremont to where the P terminates) The H could also suffice, if you find that the C will be enough service across the George Washington Bridge (or the other way around). After all, the Bx12 is the City’s busiest bus route, even topping the B46 (Utica Avenue, Brooklyn). This would be the first true cross-Bronx subway line.

  33. Soh and tim it really doesnt make any sence to extend the a down with the bx12 select since it is one of the most popular mta bus routes.

  34. Ok i know we have the path foing down to new jersey and stuff but i think there should be a couple of lines going down to new jersey but farther.