NYTIP INSIDER – a more politically palatable NYTIP

UPDATE (02.28.2021): Updated commentary on Central Park West.

On today’s edition of the NYTIP INSIDER, I will briefly discuss the long-term vision for NYTIP, which may mean making a few tough concessions generally opposed by transit advocates.

While I’ve only blogged about NYC Subway improvements thus far, my plans for NYTIP extend far beyond the subway. In the future, I will discuss improvements to commuter rail, undoing the damage wrought by urban highways, buses and bikes, and more. It’s fun to think about how much better New York’s transport infrastructure can be, but there is a strong temptation to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I saw a small microcosm of this in a recent Twitter thread on Governor Cuomo’s Penn South/Empire Station Complex plans:

For the record, I am a proponent of through-running at Penn Station, but not necessarily against Penn South. In fact, one could argue that Penn South may yield more room for through-running at the existing Penn Station.

In any case, I’d like to address the subway. I thought about the long-term vision for subway service under NYTIP; while I’ve always had the end state in mind, I encountered many challenges in reaching said end state. These challenges often involved competing goals. For example, de-interlining may reduce delays and increase route capacity, but it becomes detrimental if it requires extensive service changes beyond the routes in question. To the fullest extent possible, routes should be direct (radial) as opposed to indirect (circumferential), and local lines should be shorter than express lines. Finally, the end result should be frequent and reliable service for the vast majority of New Yorkers.

With this in mind, I’d like to address two of these challenges, which may result in some changes to NYTIP.

LaGuardia Airport (LGA) AirTrain

On the previous INSIDER, I addressed potential changes to the Astoria extension if New York State builds the LGA AirTrain. With Governor Cuomo doubling down on said AirTrain in his 2021 State of the State address, what would its construction mean for NYTIP?

I still think the preferred alternative (9A) is a mistake, and that the State – if it must build an LGA AirTrain – should combine Alternatives 9B and 9N instead:

[Figs. 1, 2] Overview of the modified LGA AirTrain. Route map in Figure 2 created using Brand New Subway.

Note that this doesn’t preclude a new yard within the Con Edison property north of Astoria, nor does it preclude an alternate Astoria line extension.

That said, with a recent change to FAA policy (see the LGA section), we may not have to concede the “backwards AirTrain” after all!

Central Park West

As far as de-interlining goes, the Central Park West (CPW) corridor seems like a no-brainer. The merges at 59th Street – Columbus Circle and 145th Street stations constrain A, B, C, and D service, and de-interlining removes those merges. A “perfect” de-interlining results in either Washington Heights riders or Concourse riders losing direct express service, which is why I opted for a pattern that preserves express service on both corridors; this, however, retains partial interlining on the Concourse line.

However, in my long-term vision for NYTIP (which includes a full-length Second Avenue Subway), some routes might come out better if CPW remains interlined. If CPW remains interlined, here’s what the resulting service patterns would look like:

[Figs. 3, 4] NYTIP service patterns without the CPW de-interlining.

On the Worth Street subway, I moved the Grand Street station to Montgomery Street (Samuel Dickstein Plaza), the actual location of a proposed station on this line.

If CPW remains interlined, then the C and K lines swap to minimize conflicts; the C serves the Worth Street subway and the K serves the Fulton Street corridor in Brooklyn.

However, leaving CPW as is introduces another problem. If the E and K trains serve 53rd Street, with one operating via 8th Avenue local and the other via 8th Avenue express, then the merging conflict that currently exists at 59th Street – Columbus Circle station also manifests at 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal station.

Consequently, I will maintain some form of de-interlining for CPW. While I have 8th Avenue services express and 6th Avenue services local under NYTIP, I am open to reversing this paradigm. See Option 2 in my CPW de-interlining post.

Concluding Remarks

While it’s tempting not to let political realities factor into our transit “crayons”, if we want these patterns realized, we may have to compromise on some elements. While I won’t pretend to be privy to all the political realities of NY transport, I do keep some in mind while drafting NYTIP. That’s part of the challenge, but also part of the reward!

2 thoughts on “NYTIP INSIDER – a more politically palatable NYTIP

  1. Nice post. I was expecting a bit more on Penn South here but alas, that’s not the case. As for the compromise on the LGA AirTrain, I like the way you displayed it with the line going underground to not disrupt Air Traffic near terminal A. While I believe that there’s space to do do, I wonder why this wasn’t considered, maybe cause that’l require taking away a lane or 2 from the GCP. Also, I’d like to comment on the D to Co-Op Extension. You do realize that the tunnel faces towards Burke Avenue, so making the turn straight to Gun Hill Road from 205th Street is not feasible.

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    1. Come to think of it, I probably could’ve said more about Penn South. There’s a lot to unwrap there. Probably when I get to the series on commuter/regional rail improvements.

      For the extended LGA AirTrain, it might be possible without taking a lane from the GCP (e.g. using space between the highway and the service road); that said, with roughly 10 lanes in the vicinity of LGA, they can live with 8 if it came down to it.

      For the D extension, while the tunnels face Burke Avenue, you could build the Gun Hill extension by cutting into the existing tunnel, similar to how the path to the new South Ferry station on the 1 was built. Put another way, there’s no requirement to start an extension from the limits of current construction.

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