As MTA Prepares to Close 72nd Street Station, Straphangers Gird Themselves: ‘That’s Gonna Suck’

Gwendolyn Wijniga plans to walk to 59th, as long as she’s not in heels.

By Joy Bergmann

On Monday, the 72nd Street station on the B and C subway lines is set to close for repairs and upgrades. It’s not expected to reopen until October.  The MTA similarly shuttered the 110th Street station on April 9th and will close the 86th Street station on June 4.

So what are the 9500 people who use 72nd St. station on a typical weekday going to do? WSR talked to a few of them about the impending closure and their contingency transit plans.

Gwendolyn Wijninga threw up her hands, “I’m so sad! I just moved to 69th and Columbus – only one block to the subway! Now six months closed, that’s big news.” Her plan?  “I’ll either take the 1 to 59th and switch. Or now that the weather’s good, I’ll walk to 59th. But only if I’m not in heels.”

Some train-riders barely notice these posters anymore.

“I didn’t know about it,” said Danny Arnett, who lives near 75th and Columbus. He smiled when WSR pointed at the large poster announcing the closures. “Guess I should pay closer attention! It’s gonna put a damper on things. The 1, 2, 3 is a hike. I will be getting a lot healthier by doing a lot more walking.”

Speaking of fitness, Barry’s Bootcamp on W. 69th is going to see a lot less of client Steven. “I’ll do the Barry’s on Layfayette,” he said. “This doesn’t impact me much. And it sounds a lot better than the complete shutdown of the L train coming up. There will be no service for those people.”

Emily commutes to her UWS job from her Upper East Side home and is steeling herself for disappointment. “I don’t believe it will reopen in October. Nothing with the MTA happens on time.” She usually takes the B/C to 86th and catches the cross-town bus. “But now I’ll just walk to 86th.”

“I had no idea,” said Andrew Thompson, who commutes from Bed-Stuy Brooklyn to his job on 74th Street every weekday. “I usually take the A train to 59th and switch to a B/C. But now I’ll take the A to Fulton and switch to a 2/3.” His face softened into what one might call MTA Zen. “What can you do? I have no choice, do I?”

Brian Jivers has sold newspapers at 72nd Street station entrance every morning since 2002. But not for long. “I can’t stay here,” he said. “I might have to try 81st St.”

Brian Jivers plans to move his newspaper-selling operation.

“I think there are enough alternatives,” said Jerry Berman. “M10 bus, walk to Columbus Circle, go to the 1 train. It is what it is.”

Lyric, who works at an UWS salon twice a week, was taken aback by the nearness of the closing date. “Oh man. That’s gonna suck,” she said before pivoting to her solution. “I can take the R to the 1, 2, 3 though this was a little more convenient. The whole MTA needs major repairs, so if they can get this right, it will be worth it.”

NEWS | 24 comments | permalink
    1. lynn says:

      Question about Brian Jivers. Isn’t he selling for a company and aren’t the responsible for finding him another location?

    2. Workit says:

      CitiBike to the rescue!

    3. Giulia says:

      “The whole MTA needs major repairs, so if they can get this right, it will be worth it.”

      Spoilers: They won’t get this right.

    4. Pedestrian says:

      They are closing the station but there will be no upgrades for the disabled. I guess they didn’t know that the disable might want to use the subway!

      WiFi but no elevators.

    5. judy marcovitch says:

      66th street?

    6. Frustrated says:

      Have we seen any pics of the progress at 110th Street?

      I really don’t understand what these improvements are. They seem to be all cosmetic and unclear why it would take 6th months to add in some LED lights.

      • Zulu says:

        They are also doing water remediation and water damage repairs. Which involves removing the tiles (if they haven’t fallen off already) and chip out all the bad concrete until they find good solid concrete to build up from. It’s a labor intensive process which is very dusty and hard to quantify as you never know how far it has to go.

    7. Jane Halsey says:

      I’ll miss it sorely though I only use it one day a week. I work near Bryant Park and have one extra long lunch hour a week, Thursday, to make up for a no break deadline day every Wednesday. For my long break I always take the B to the Ramble but I like to walk first through the Strawberry Fields woods path, and back overy the Bow Bridge and through Wagner Cove. Now I’ll just be getting off and back on at 81st instead. I’ll really miss the rest of my route! But of course not nearly as sucky as missing a daily commute. Those of us at Cortelyou Road though remember what it was to lose our Q station for months though, a year or so ago. Our sympathies, UWS dudes.

    8. Ang106 says:

      We’re New Yorkers. We’ll be alright… we walk everywhere!

    9. Ang106 says:

      We’re New Yorkers… we’ll manage..

      • Cyrus says:

        What does this mean, exactly? When there’s a mass transit issue in other states, do you think commuters simply curl up in the fetal position?

    10. Daniel in West 60s says:

      As one of the daily commuters affected, I think it’s outrageous that they are inconveniencing so many people just for cosmetic improvements. My problem is that the train service is bad and the trains don’t run often enough at rush hour. Also the station is inaccessible to people with disabilities. This closure for several months doesn’t fix any of these real problems. And it’s a waste of money. And why didn’t the mta coordinate to run more trains on other nearby lines near this station during the closure? Or have more citibike added along CPW? This is a bad management decision negatively impacting the people who rely on the 72nd st station.

    11. UWS10023 says:

      there are literally tons of other opens, this is Manhattan we’ll be ok

    12. Juan says:

      It sounds like those of us who take the 1, 2 and 3 regularly should brace for bigger crowds – ideally they would run some extra trains to handle this but I’m not holding my breath.

      • Anon says:

        The 1 can’t handle extra crowds. During rush hour if isn’t unusual to have to wait for several trains before you can squeeze into one. I’m nice weather more people might walk or Citibike but when it rains and everyone wants to use public transportation the 72nd St 1,2,3 platforms will be dangerously crowded

    13. Ana says:

      I don’t understand why they couldn’t leave the 70th street entrance open, it didn’t sound like they were repairing it and even if they were, couldn’t they stagger the work so that there would be no disruption?

      • Woody says:

        You think it’s that simple?

        • a says:

          With proper planning it probably is. There are three separate entrances. Most of the repairs are to 72nd street. This closure besides being highly inconvenient also hurts local businesses and there is a loss of revenue to the MTA as well.

          • Zulu says:

            No it isn’t. There is work being done at the platform level. How is the train going to unload people on the closed section of the platform? Assuming you’re staging the work that is. It’s a lot more complex than people think it is.

    14. AC says:

      This is an excellent example of poor planning. These improvements should have been staged so as to lessen the inconvenience to the travelling public. The only way these station shutdowns can be justified is if they were Life-Safety issues, which they are not.

    15. Elyse says:

      It is a problem for healthy people but……has anyone thought about how the disabled will manage. Walking ten blocks or even two is impossible. Is the city administration even thinking of it? I really doubt it.

    16. maryjane says:

      I agree that for a lot of people, this is more of an inconvenience than a real hardship. My complaint is how the MTA handled publicizing this and the impending closure on 86th street. There has been virtually no notice and I just don’t understand how/why the MTA continues to do a completely inadequate job of communicating. Sure, service levels are going down and I’m skeptical of the impact these changes will make, but at the very least it should not be a surprise that a station is closing for 6 months.