With N Line Construction Underway, Straphangers Find New Routines

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Photo by Veronika Bondarenko

Photo by Veronika Bondarenko

Joseph McCoy used to board the N train directly at 18th Avenue, but now has to ride two stations back towards Coney Island before heading into Manhattan. Although the extra ride to Bay Parkway only takes a few minutes, the time gap between incoming trains usually tacks an additional 30 minutes onto his commute.

“I definitely get up earlier,” said McCoy, a high school student. “I need to get dressed faster, sleep a little less. It’s very annoying.”

As construction at nine Manhattan-bound station platforms along the N line in south-western Brooklyn moves into its third month, riders are left tracking the progress with impatience.

As we’ve reported, the $395.7 million renovation project, which includes repairs to existing overpasses and canopies and the addition of new stairways and elevators, began on January 18 and is slated to finish over the next four years.

Seven of the northbound platforms – Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Kings Highway, Avenue U and 86th Street – are closed for construction for the next 14 months. Eighth Avenue and Bay Parkway stations, while also undergoing construction, have been equipped with temporary platforms to accommodate riders catching transfer trains.

Photo by Veronika Bondarenko

Photo by Veronika Bondarenko

The same stations will close on the southbound side for another fourteen months once the first stretch of the project is complete. After that, there will be more repairs that won’t close any platforms.

Marisa Baldeo, a spokeswoman for the MTA, said that work has stayed on schedule so far.

“This project will bring all of these stations to a state of good repair,” said Baldeo.

Meanwhile, commuters who live or work near one of the seven closed stations have to either ride backward towards Bay Parkway and transfer onto a Manhattan-bound train or ride forward towards 8th Avenue and catch a southbound train back to reach their stop.

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney and chief spokesman for New York’s Straphangers Campaign, said that while repairs are long overdue, the platform closures create a serious inconvenience for thousands of riders who rely on the N line.

“It’s a disruption to the old routine, which wasn’t so pleasant to begin with,” said Russianoff.

Another hassle straphangers are dealing with is the crowds. Commuter Hassan Kazmi, who lives a few minutes away from Bay Parkway, told us he sees a large increase in people all trying to get onto the same northbound train in the mornings and afternoons.

“It’s a headache,” he said.

Two construction companies — John P. Picone, Inc. and Skanska USA — have been hired to do the renovations.

One construction worker we spoke to said that between 75 to 100 John P. Picone employees are currently working on the project, which takes place mainly during regular business hours.

He added that although his team has run into unexpected problems, they are on track to finish the project ahead of schedule.

  • Turd Ferguson

    They pushed back the opening of the Bay Parkway stop’s Avenue O entrance from January, then to February, and now to Fall 2016.

    I’d think that the central hub that Bay Parkway has become would have it’s massive crowding alleviated by opening the second entrance, but what do I know?

  • Joseph Ditta

    No
    one mentions the obvious safety issue in exiting stations. Take Avenue
    U, for instance. There is ONE staircase open for entering and exiting
    the station, at the south end of the Coney Island-bound platform.
    Everyone exiting a train is forced to use that staircase. The north exit
    (at Avenue T) is closed. It makes for a dangerously crowded platform
    and staircase. And don’t get me started about the morons who text on the
    stairs while scores of people are trying to climb up behind them. But
    that’s another story . . .

  • Sean F

    I do the 20th Ave to Bay Pkwy run every morning, and have had few problems. The problem is impatient and lazy riders. You can ride in the third- or fourth-to-last car, which is usually not crowded (in fact, there are always seats if I want one). Then, don’t rush into the heave of impatient people from the last cars trying to race over to the express platform, where they all huddle to get on the first cars because they are too lazy to move down the platform.

    Take your time, stay to the right, and head for the middle or rear of the Manhattan-bound train. If there’s a train already at the express platform when you arrive, just accept that you won’t make it onto that train. Most mornings, I watch hordes of people cram into the front of the train that’s on the express platform when I get there, then I stroll further back, and take the next train (usually within 5 or 6 minutes), and always get a seat. Leaving my house five minutes earlier than before has me arriving at work at my normal time.

  • Robert D

    i drive to work, sitting in my soft leather heated seats. Listening to talk radio and sipping the morning coffee as the sun rises over the Gowanus. Traffic can stink at times but i guess its better then dodging the shavings from the Asian guy and his trusty nail clipper.

    • Perry Masonmint

      Thank you John Rocker. And yes, traffic is awful, so enjoy the $2 per gallon gas while it lasts.

  • Diane Venezia

    I am also affected by this it is taking me an extra 1/2 hour. I get on at 20th Ave but stay on to Coney Island – because Bay Parkway get too crowed. there is a delay at Coney Island when the crew changes plus now the train has been waiting for another N train to pull into the station – does the same thing at Bay Parkway. This construction is way over due. The MTA should have taken care of these stations as the need arose instead of waiting so long and complaining that they have no money to take care of repairs. The MTA raises the fares and we get less and less and their bank accounts get richer. I would love to invite anyone of these big wigs to ride the N train with me for just one week to see how bad it is and has been for the past few years. Even before this nonsense started I would leave super early just so that I can get a seat even though 20th Ave is only 5 stops from Coney Island. Besides all this mess we even have to deal with the homeless on the train. This is going to take a lot longer than the 14 months that the MTA said it would. I have not seen to much done in the 3 months since they started. I bet dollars to donuts that the MTA is going to raise the fare again because they don’t have enough money in the budget to finish this. I don’t trust nor believe the MTA

    • Subway Stinker

      Diane, the MTA board of directors are clueless. They had no idea that the $3.5 billion Hudson Yards terminal was leaking with broken rest rooms until they read about it in the Post. I am sure they have never ridden the N Sea Beach subway line and have no idea that once upon a time the F and N had express service in Brooklyn.

    • jae34

      You have no idea here in NYC fares are heavily subsidized.