Three UWS Subways Stations Will Completely Close for Up to 6 Months for Digital Upgrades

Three subway stations — the 110th, 86th and 72nd Street stations on the B and C lines — will soon be closing for up to six months as part of the MTA’s plans to add more digital flourishes to stations in the city, including LED illuminated handrails and countdown clocks outside the station that tell people when trains are arriving. They’ll also be replacing concrete, repairing steel and wall tiles, and otherwise rehabbing the stations.

Update: A presentation we received shows that 110th will be the first station, then 72nd and then 86th. The plan was outlined at a recent Community Board 7 Transportation Committee meeting.

There is a B-C station at 81st Street and one at 103rd, which could potentially handle some of the overflow from the other stations. But there are currently no specific plans for where the thousands of passengers who use those stations every day will be diverted.

All told, ridership at the three stations exceeded 30,000 as of the most recent statistics. As of 2016, the 110th Street station served 12,926 people per day, the 86th Street station served 11,809 passengers, and the 72nd Street station served 9,448 passengers, MTA stats show.

“To the astonishment of many at the meeting, no mitigation whatsoever is planned,” Ken Coughlin, a member of the transportation committee, told West Side Rag.

An MTA rep said at the transportation committee meeting that he expects people will use buses or other subway lines. The MTA has no plans to increase service on the 1-2-3 lines, but will monitor bus congestion and could increase bus service if necessary. Those statements did not seem to satisfy some community board members, who noted that the 1 train is already very crowded — the 86th Street station in particular suffers from intense gridlock at rush hour.

Andrew Albert, the co-chair of Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee and an MTA board member, thinks “NYC Transit should be prepared, in case there’s a major shift to the Broadway subway.”

“The stations will look much nicer, but plans must be made to increase service on the 1, 2, 3 lines if it looks like riders from the closed stations are shifting to the Broadway line,” he told us.

Howard Yaruss, the other co-chair of the transportation committee, noted that the station upgrades do little to fix the underlying problem at the MTA — a rapid deterioration in service. Mayor de Blasio has likewise criticized the station upgrades as window dressing. Rehabbing these three Upper West Side stations will cost $83 million total.

“As someone whose primary subway station is being closed, I’m aware of how much inconvenience this will cause so many of us, especially in view of the lack of alternative plans for commuters,” he wrote to us. “While we all appreciate cosmetic station improvements, the real priority needs to be ensuring that local residents can reliably get to work on time. I’m frustrated that the MTA is spending so much time and money on cosmetic improvements while allowing service to continue to deteriorate.”

Others wondered why construction couldn’t be completed during off hours.

“I’m really confused about the closures,” said one community board member at the transportation committee meeting, adding “This is a major imposition. It couldn’t be done on the weekend?”

“That was our old way of doing business,” said Bill Montanile, program manager for the enhanced station initiative. “Can this be done on weekends? Without a doubt, but I’d be in your neighborhood for probably four years.”

“It does allow the contractor to get the work done as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said.

In addition to the complete closures of the three stations, all B-C stations between 59th and 125th Streets will be closed on 18 weekends (9 weekends for the uptown stations and 9 for the downtown) and 40 weeknights (20 for the uptown and 20 for the downtown). People who need to go to stations between 59th and 125th can take trains going in the opposite direction (Say you need to go to 81st, and the uptown stations are closed. You can take the uptown to 125th and then transfer to the downtown to get to 81st).

The MTA reps said they plan to inform the public by putting vinyl signs in the affected stations two to three weeks before the closure.

No elected officials were at the community board meeting, according to people there, and we haven’t heard anything about this prior to this meeting. It’s not clear if the MTA, which is controlled by the state, has discussed this station closure with them. Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell’s office sent the following statement after we contacted him shortly before this article was published:

“At a time when we see the chronic neglect of our transit system’s infrastructure plunging the city into a transportation crisis, the idea that purely aesthetic modifications will close three important stations is an outrage. The MTA is 28 years overdue in complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and it is shameful that LED lighting and futuristic looks have taken priority over our seniors and people with disabilities. What good is a countdown clock when the next train is 20 minutes away? I currently have a bill that would create a dedicated revenue stream to fix the MTA focusing on structural repairs and this situation serves as testament of why its passage is necessary.”

This article was updated to include the assembly member’s statement.

NEWS | 82 comments | permalink
    1. Parker says:

      I use the 72nd station to commute to work. As you’d expect, I’m less than happy with this announcement and the inconvenience that comes with it. I catch a very early morning train to the office, at about 5:30am. Every morning, without fail, the 72nd Street station has an overwhelming smell of human excrement from the homeless that sleep in the station overnight. Given that the MTA has shown no ability to adequately monitor their facilities to prevent this, what’s the point of the refurbishment? It’s just going to revert into an upgraded toilet, and will fall into disrepair as quickly as it was built. The MTA has a lot of priorities right now – this isn’t one of them. Why the MTA insists on renovating stations in a manner that the community neither wants nor needs is beyond me.

      • OriginalMark says:

        That smell of human excrement won’t seem so bad when your grasping the lovely new LED illuminated handrails!

      • Sam Katinsky says:

        I remember in the 1960s when every night a subway worker would go through each station spraying human urine.

      • jezbel says:

        They’re not fixing the basic infrastructure. This won’t make the trains run faster or better or on-time. This is adding some flash & glitz to the station. Some new tiles, countdown clocks. But when the tack is on fire or frozen and the trains are running that clock is of little help. And 20 weeks on varying side of the station? ABSURD! OUTRAGEOUS. Millions of dollars on gloss. I want my tax money to go into getting faster trains, newer cars, better track repair & replacement. So the optics part after you’ve got a product that up and running. These guys are doing it bass-ackward.

    2. OriginalMark says:

      The MTA.
      Going your way.
      Screwing your day.

    3. Kyle says:

      This is….outrageous.

      I would gladly take better/more frequent service and $1 knocked off the fare over fancy technical upgrades any day of the week.

      Not the smartest use of all that money..

    4. RedRaleigh says:

      “The stations will look much nicer..”

      But will continue to function as poorly they always have. NYC has one of the WORST transit systems in the world. It’s dangerous, it’s dirty, it’s horribly inefficient and should be an embarrassment to every New Yorker. The entire MTA should be turned over to the Japanese. We would have one of the finest transit systems in the world within 5 years.

    5. MF says:

      So glad I am no longer a subway commuter.

    6. Jan says:

      Truly believe this city is NOT managed correctly.
      Too many wrong decisions compounds into a disaster.
      NYC used to be great; esp. the UWS Sob.

    7. Steven K. says:

      During the rennovation the MTA should significantly expand #10 bus service between 110th and 72nd with free transfers to the subway at the stations that remain open.

    8. Miriam Fisher says:

      There is no mention of enhancing accessibility for people who struggle with stairs, wheelchairs, walkers,seniors,bad backs, knees, baby carriages,luggage.Elevators,escalators,
      ramps should be priority. Subways only about 20% accessible in the system, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,which is 30 years old. MTA has monthly meetings open to public testimony
      Next one is Thurs Feb 22 at 10am, 2 Broadway.Come and tell the MTA directly how you are affected. The Commissioner Lhota attends these meetings

      • Mike D Nyc says:

        Meeting is for jerks. They will let you rant and then laugh at you in their limos back to the office, and then do exactly as they please.
        Keep your dugnity. Slip the “meeting.”

    9. Marion says:

      Would be nice if when it actually begins, signs were posted at the top of the stairs rather than just in the station, to save many people the difficulty of traversing the stairs. People with strollers, canes, packages have a difficult enough time without having to go down and then up again unnecessarily.

      • Marianne says:

        That is a good point! Lately there’s no one, two or three subway service after 9:45 PM, but one runs down the stairs to find out that there’s no subway. On the weekends it is even worse.
        Getting home at night, the B&C line going to Central Park West and 72nd St. has been the only option since the aforementioned one, two and three trains are not running. I hope they will be running by April otherwise there’s no way of getting home, because they sure did not give us a replacement buses.:-(

      • Kathleen says:

        Thank you!

    10. Jan Lindemann says:

      More photo opportunities for Cuomo when the work is completed and he can show off the shiny new stations. Photo ops are really all he cares about, and fixing the trains so they run into me does not present this opportunities.

      • SN says:

        “and fixing the trains so they run into me does not present this opportunities”

        Would you really want that– the trains fixed to run into you?

    11. Sidonie Dobkin says:

      1. The work will definitely not be completed on time.
      2. Signs that the stations where work is scheduled should be posted AT SUBWAY ENTRANCES
      AT STREET LEVEL voiding having to schlepp downstairs and then up.
      3. We need more waste receptacles. Upgrades may be nice, but more receptacles may help keep stations cleaner. Common Sense!!!

    12. fraancesca says:

      Thanks for noting big issues at many UWS stations occupied by the homeless, and the host of attendant problems. Mr. deB talks often about the rights of the homeless, and rarely about the rights and reasonable expectations of paying users and residents. He is part of the problem. So far, the size of the homeless budget has multiplied, the size of the homeless population has multiplied, the signs of progress have disappeared. Accountability? I don’t see any.
      🍀🍀

      • Cato says:

        Accountability? He just ran for re-election, and the majority of our fellow citizens decided that he should continue to be mayor for four more years.

        The time for accountability was last November, and not enough people held him to account. Now he has free rein for the next four years, and since he *cannot* run for a third term he has absolutely, totally, unquestionably *no* accountability.

        The majority of your fellow citizens decided last November that the rights of the homeless are more important than the rights of the taxpayers, at least until 2022. That’s all there is to it. While I share in your unhappiness at that situation, we have to learn to live with it if we are to continue to live in NYC.

    13. MThAter says:

      This incompetent group of losers just doing what they do best which is being incompetent group of loser.

    14. Pesdestrian says:

      Wouldn’t we all rather have cleaner stations and more efficient transportation. Apparently digital upgrades are more fun!

      No plans for commuters? Why are we surprised? The MTA DOESNT CARE ABOUT THE HUMANS WHO USE ITS “service”.

    15. Eln says:

      Why not include putting elevators in some of those stations for the physically challenged?

    16. Robert Rumore says:

      These stations and the entire system needs upgrades.They need to make the use of the money when it comes and rebuild every station to the 21 century. The money was always pushed the “we can not afford this know” to the brink of never. We need these stations upgraded as soon as the money is available.

    17. Edith says:

      I wouldn’t be so mad at closures if they are used for infrastructure repairs, even if very inconvient. But for fancy digital stuff! MTA is putting the horse before the cart. Focus on the things that are really needed! Or don’t come to me cryin’ that you need to raise the fare..

      • Woody says:

        “MTA is putting the horse before the cart.”

        At least they got that right. Will the horse and cart shuttle people between closed stations?

        • Cato says:

          Only if those stations are completely inside Central Park. Remember that another of deB’s misguided priorities is to prevent horse carriages outside of Central Park (ultimately probably inside too).

          Horses? Well treated. Taxpaying citizens? Sorry, no transit for you.

    18. Lincoln10023 says:

      Maybe before closing stations, the community – beyond Community Board 7 – should learn about all the so called MTA ‘improvements.’ Putting in LED lit handrails are not an improvement that I would want if it means a station must be closed for 6 months (if we are lucky). This is just another enhancement that the MTA may not be able to maintain.

      The MTA needs to better explain to the Greater Community what they want to accomplish with each rehab (maybe with newspaper ads) and the Community should sign off on them before stations are closed for extended periods. I don’t think the pain is worth the reward.

    19. Nancy J. Brandwein says:

      And in the meantime the 2/3 stations are not going to Brooklyn and the #1 stations between 96 and points north are often closed every weekend, forcing thousands into shuttle buses, etc. The whole MTA system is a clusterf*** lately. And now this! I agree with commenters who say let the MTA keep their stations from being a giant toilet rather than adding “digital flourishes,”

    20. Brian says:

      Ridiculous. Instead of closing three stations for six months simultaneously, why don’t they close one station at a time, for two months? It makes absolutely no sense to spread work out between three stations, instead of devoting all workers to one station.

    21. Stef Lev says:

      is the improvement worth what it would take to implement and can it be maintained. I don’t think so!

    22. Janice says:

      The MTA is a complete trainwreck. I grew up in the city and it has NEVER been this bad. It is outrageous to have, on any given day, tons of lines out of commission .

    23. Upper Best Side says:

      No one cares whether they are told their train is going to be 30 minutes late by an old PA system or a new LED screen.

      All. We. Want. Is. That. The. Trains. Be. On. Time.

      There are numerous policies that would make trains more reliable and efficient. Improvements to signaling, balanced relationships with unions that doesn’t bleed the MTA dry, higher subway prices for tourists, time-variable subway pricing and faster bus service would all be massive steps in the right direction.

      LEDs and signs are inappropriate based on their cost alone. Closing subway stations to install them amounts to criminal negligence.

      • Woody says:

        How exactly is this ‘criminal negligence’? Do you even understand what criminal negligence means or is that a phrase you’ve been dying to use no matter what the context? I seriously wonder about the integrity of many UWS’ers thought processes and their mental instabilities.

    24. UWSer says:

      This is absolutely fraudulent.

      Those responsible at the MTA and the politicians who have failed to intervene should be prosecuted for fraud and dereliction of duty.

      I support capital punishment.

      • Woody says:

        Another stable insividual. I can’t think of many situations where your conversational input would be respected and welcome.

        • Cato says:

          “I can’t think of many situations where your conversational input would be respected and welcome.”

          Well, this is one. Despite the example being set in Washington, if you disagree with an idea please address it rather than simply attacking the person who expressed it. Your attacks on people expressing ideas here casts more doubt on your own integrity than your attacks do on theirs.

          OK, get your red hat on now and come after me. We’re all waiting for you…..

          • Woody says:

            “This is absolutely fraudulent.”
            When someone describes an MTA construction project as fraud without any supporting analysis, that person deserves to be excoriated.

            “Those responsible at the MTA and the politicians who have failed to intervene should be prosecuted for fraud and dereliction of duty.”
            Another example of making outrageous accusations of fraud with no supporting argument. What is the dereliction of duty? How is this the politicians fault and how would they intervene? Anyone talking like this isn’t up to the task of making a credible argument.

            “I support capital punishment.”
            To say this adds a whole new dimension of idiocy to the conversation.

            If you want to supports the essence of his post, go ahead. But I’m not going to pull any punches letting him know that I think he would be unarmed in a battle of wits.

    25. R. Clanport. says:

      What’s the problem? The longer it’s closed the more lives will be saved.

    26. Chase says:

      who smells human excrement in nyc?

    27. Mr. Kent says:

      Of the people, by the people, for the people.

    28. John Hancock says:

      I see very little in the actions of this state (NY) and thus city, that reflect any manner of democratic principles.

    29. C. says:

      Closed 6 months for LED hand rails? The city is so bright I never have issues seeing the railing or stairs. Ridiculous

    30. Sue Susman says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if they added elevators to make them wheelchair (and stroller) accessible.

      • Miriam Fisher says:

        Thank you for raising the issue of accessibility. Few of the comments mentioned that. Not on people’s radar. Elevators, escalators, ramps, for the wide spectrum of needs. Wheelchairs, walkers,bad backs, bad knees, baby carrisges, luggage, seniors

    31. CHARLES ANGELO says:

      AS A NATIVE UWS NEW YORKER ON 96TH ST. THIS IS GOOD NEWS.
      YES IT WILL INCONVENIENCE US BUT ITS A START.
      YOU HAVE TO BEGIN SOMEWHERE.
      LET’GO WITH THE FLOW AND TRY TO MAKE THIS AS PAINLESS AS POSSIBLE.
      LET US BE SURE THE RIDERS ARE AWARE OF THESE CHANGES BEFORE THEY OCCUR. CHANGE IS DIFFICULT BUT WE HAVE TO BEGIN SOMEWHERE.

    32. jb says:

      I use the 110th station on a frequent basis and I support these renovations. I think this article is both poorly titled and written in its major focus on “led lighting improvements”. The work goes far beyond lighting and time clocks and only further into the article actually mentions concrete structural repairs, crumbling wall tile replacement, etc. Sadly, most every commenter here has decided to just focus on the led lighting (which will certainly improve safety). Don’t be so lazy – investigate further – get the facts. This is so reflective of America today. Yes, elevators would be a nice addition for the elderly and otherwise handicapped but the M10 bus which runs the exact same route along CPW from 125th to 59th IS handicapped accessible and has elevators at both of those end stations. And sure, MTA has big financial and union issues and they certainly need to accommodate effected passengers during these stations closures. But these repairs are needed and I, for one, look forward to having them completed.

      • Kathleen says:

        Apparently you are not, nor do you know someone, who is physically challenged and uses the subway system to get further in the city than 110th or 59th. It is very difficult for someone who has difficulty walking or uses a walker, to transfer from one bus to another because they don’t all stop at the same place and, especially at 59th St/Columbus Circle it can be very difficult for a physically challenged person to negotiate that intersection. Adding elevators so everyone can have access to the subway is the responsible thing to do, and how dare you dismiss the needs of those who struggle to get around. There are many people who have physical challenges and this is an aging city with a significant aging population who have been here for many years and whose needs must be recognized and considered.

        • Woody says:

          That’s why there is Access-A-Ride.

        • jb says:

          How dare I? I happen to be 62 y/o, so not exactly a spring chicken myself. You get on the M10, take it to 59th (or exit at a stop along the way) and then take an escalator or elevator (both handicapped friendly!) at 59th down to the tracks and you can get pretty much wherever you need to be – even the outer boroughs!! You just need to work at it a little. It’s god damn NYC, not West Palm Beach.

      • Soko says:

        Have you ever taken the M10 bus? they often run 25 minutes apart during most of the day. Completely useless. We need elevators. Taking a slow bus is not a solution.

    33. Ken says:

      Look on the bright side — you’ll be able to fully charge your phone AND your laptop before the next train arrives!

    34. Teresa Moises says:

      That is great news! It is a necessary inconvenience. I do not know how I wil get to my destination all that time,but time goes by and everyone will appreciate it. Thank you!

    35. J'accuse! says:

      Pull that emergency brake. Not so fast here.
      Let’s follow the money. This reeks of corruption and waste, and of the kind that is endemic to the MTA. Citizens should file a lawsuit to halt the closures and unnecessary expenditures.

      There is something corrupt about rushing to spend what will turn out to be more than $100 million on cosmetic upgrades.

      Why the big hurry? Which (crony) contractors will stand to benefit? Which politicians and MTA execs will stand to benefit?

      How can you close off service to this large a swath of the system for six months to install tiles and handrails? Why not focus on one station at a time? Why not institute temporary overnight/weekend closures? Why would it take 4-5 years to finish (on a weekends and overnight schedule), instead of 12-18 months?

      How about some real public discussion and meaning explanation?

      • UWS_lifer says:

        And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why we can’t have nice things.

        Or at least why their budgets get increased unnecessarily by millions.

        Just stop it with the lawsuits every minute and go vote…how about that?

    36. Woody says:

      Break the hold that the unions have on any type of construction/labor in this city and you’ll see the same types of efficiency,progress, and cost structure that exist in the rest of the world. Except France.

    37. Josh P. says:

      This is ridiculous. The MTA is an absurdly corrupt agency with costs that are multiples higher than every other major city in the world. It’s not because New York is so different – it’s because of graft and corruption.
      Andrew Albert has sat on the MTA board for decades. What has he done to stop this corruption? Gov. Andrew Cuomo has controlled the MTA for the last eight years. What has he done? Anyone who cares about this city’s future needs to make sure he is not re-elected this fall.

    38. Josh P. says:

      BTW this was the agenda item for the Transportation Committee meeting where this was discussed – no notice to the public whatsoever that this discussion would involve closing three stations for months.

      “1. Presentation by NYC Transit Authority on upcoming Enhanced Station Initiative projects in MCB7. The 72nd Street, 86th Street and 110th Street Cathedral Parkway B C stations will be receiving upgrades similar to those shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69xb

    39. Mary says:

      But will they be selling wine?

    40. CMA says:

      Not a smart use of our money. I agree with O’Donnell, we need an ELEVATOR at either 86 or 72 or 81st st. and 110th, Instead of shiney on time or not clocks… Why can’t CBd7 say NO!?

    41. Glen says:

      This is truly beyond comprehension. Fancy new LED lights… how special? If they wanted to do something to an 86th Street Station, they would drop another entrance to the uptown #1 at W87th/Bway. Doing that and dropping an entrance to the 79th St uptown station would go a long way to improving the UWS subway “experience”

    42. Guest says:

      Good. Fix them, get it done.

    43. S. Hayes says:

      Since my return to the UWS in ’14, the Conservancy has upgraded Central Park in multiple places along CPW, Columbus has been repaved, Central Park West has been repaved, Citi Bike is everywhere, and now the 72nd Street station will be modernized. Nice. #Infrastructureimprovementontherise #NYCbetternowthanever

    44. js says:

      Worth noting that relying on buses as an alternate poses problems as well.
      First, M10 was split into 2 routes years ago (10 and 20) a huge hassle IMO.
      Last year the MTA split the M5 into 2 routes – M5 and M55.
      So now there is not a single West Side bus that goes from UWS to below 14th St.

      Second – on most weekends not even possible to access buses as streets closed for bike events, marathons, walks, and street fairs.

    45. Jeff says:

      There’s an app you can get on your smartphone that shows the same thing as the countdown clocks. We really don’t need new ines.

    46. Eric says:

      Seems I moved out of the neighborhood just in time (typing under a palm tree)