42nd St. Shuttle to get an overhaul

The 42nd St. Shuttle and its stations will undergo renovations through 2022. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

BY GABE HERMAN | The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently announced that it will be upgrading the 42nd St. Shuttle and its stations at Times Square and Grand Central, including adding more train capacity and improved accessibility.

More than 100,000 people use the Shuttle every day, including 10,000 during peak hours, according to the M.T.A. The system runs on tracks and stations built 115 years ago as part of the city’s first subway line, which ran from City Hall across 42nd St. and up to Harlem. The tracks running along 42nd St. were later repurposed for the Shuttle.

The project will include a larger and more accessible Shuttle terminal at Times Square that will be ADA-compliant, with a centralized platform for two tracks. This is the last part of the Times Square station to be made handicap accessible.

The new Times Square platform will also be twice as wide, with fewer columns to increase accessibility, customer flow and sight lines. There will also be a new station entrance as part of the 1 Times Square redevelopment, including a staircase and an elevator.

The Grand Central Shuttle platforms will also be reconfigured into one island platform. A new, wider staircase also will be built for better traffic flow.

The Shuttle’s train operations will be updated, as well, including expanding train length from four to six cars, and updating to a modern signal system, from the current one, which has been in place since the 1930s.

The Grand Central Shuttle platform in 1962. (Courtesy M.T.A. and the NY Transit Museum)

The Shuttle’s current three-track operation, which runs along curves, will change to two straight tracks. This will allow for easier flow of riders and elimination of platform gaps, making the trains more accessible for people with mobility issues and safer over all, according to the M.T.A.

The project will also update the Shuttle system’s electrical infrastructure and create new crew facilities.

Work is set to start on Aug. 16 and continue through 2022. The Shuttle will operate during construction, which will be done in phases and cause only minor service reductions, according to the M.T.A.

A notice of the upcoming work at the Times Square Shuttle station. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

“Making our system accessible and easier to use for all New Yorkers is essential to modernizing the M.T.A.,” said Veronique Hakim, the authority’s managing director, “and this 42nd St. Shuttle transformation project is another example of our progress.

“Instead of simply fixing the most urgent conditions, we’re taking this opportunity to truly transform the 42nd St Shuttle,” Hakim added. “The project will allow the M.T.A. to move more people, run longer trains and simplify transfers for customers between the city’s busiest transit hubs. We’re making crossing Midtown Manhattan quicker and easier for millions of customers.”

The M.T.A. said that during construction, riders should expect a few extra minutes of travel time during peak hours, and might consider taking the 7 train, which also runs crosstown on 42nd St.

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