The long-awaited 7 train extension from Times Square to Manhattan’s far west side opened yesterday. Mayor de Blasio, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast, Senator Chuck Schumer and a number of other state and local officials were on hand at the new 34th Street – Hudson Yards station to welcome the first passengers — and to engage in a debate about MTA funding. WNYC’s Kate Hinds writes:
[W]hile the station is new, the tension over how to fund the MTA’s Capital Program, which is short a few billion dollars, is not. To help pay for its next five years of repairs and expansion, the MTA wants the city to contribute a little over $3 billion.
Chairman Prendergast explained to the invited guests and media in attendance at the station (the public had to stay behind barricades on the sidewalk) that 80 percent of the MTA’s infrastructure lies within New York City, and “chided the mayor for refusing to cough up the $3.2 billion the MTA requested from City Hall to fund the agency’s five year capital plan.”
I think it’s very important we remember the facts. The city of New York and the people of New York are the backbone of the funding of so much of the MTA. We pay 73 percent of the MTA budget through the city government’s contribution, through the fares our people pay, the tolls our people pay, the taxes our people pay. We are doing our share.
Still, the MTA Capital Plain remains $11 billion shy of being fully-funded and there’s no indication how or when that gap is going to be filled.
Politics aside, the new station is good news for New York City, whose transit network hasn’t seen a new subway station in a quarter century. And although daily ridership at the new station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue is expected to be only 32,000 — a tiny fraction of the ridership at Times Square-42nd Street — that number will no doubt increase as tenants move into Hudson Yards, the city’s largest real estate development since Rockefeller Center. Until then, the station will primarily serve the existing residential developments on the far west side, the Javits Center, the High Line, and Megabus passengers headed to the intercity bus carrier’s 34th Street boarding site.