After years of community advocacy and political backing, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has put the brakes on the proposed 10th Avenue subway station in Hell’s Kitchen. An MTA report published last week has taken the project off track, citing a staggering $1.9 billion price tag for limited time savings to riders. According to the report, the new station would shave just one minute off straphangers’ commute times but would, conversely, add a minute for riders traveling to or from the existing 34th Street station.
Despite finding its way onto the MTA’s 20-Year Needs Assessment, the much-vaunted 10th Avenue Station on the 7 Line appears to be “fiscally out of reach,” says Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, echoing the letdown felt by many Hell’s Kitchen politicians and community members.
“The MTA has the opportunity to correct the mistake that was made when this station was removed from the original 7 train extension plans,” said Councilmember Erik Bottcher, who has advocated for the station as an “ideal legacy project” to both the Governor and the Mayor. Bottcher’s sentiment is echoed by other local elected officials who accuse the MTA of neglecting a rapidly growing area in desperate need of improved transit options.
Assemblymember Tony Simone emphasized the need for equal investment in the West Side, stating, “The West Side deserves as much investment as the rest of the city.” And Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) Chair Jeffrey LeFrancois struck a note of urgency, stating that it’s “appalling how much transit projects cost in New York,” but that shouldn’t deter the city from building out its “arteries.”
“This project has a high cost in relation to the benefits it provides. While it would shorten travel times slightly for a small number of new riders,” said the MTA, “adding the station would increase travel time for existing riders to or from 34th St.”
The MTA published its first-ever Comparative Evaluation of numerous projects that the transportation agency could undertake over the next 20 years. “Many potential expansion projects throughout the MTA region have been proposed over the years. When considered in isolation, virtually every potential expansion project is appealing in some aspect. Our Comparative Evaluation applies a rigorous methodology to fairly assess these projects in comparison to one another and in the context of our limited resources,” the MTA said in their 20-Years Needs Assessment report published this month.
Of the 25 projects considered in the report, the “Tenth Avenue Station on the 7 Line” was considered one of the least cost-effective for the MTA. In their key metric of ‘Cost Compared to Time’, the station project would have a cost of $81.29 — far above major projects like the Interborough Express ($1.29) and the Second Avenue Subway to W125th/Broadway ($1.43).
In the report, the MTA says that an infill station on the 7 line “would shorten commute times for some customers traveling to and from emerging areas of Hell’s Kitchen and Hudson Yards.” However, the project would have a significant construction cost at $1.9 billion for a single station. This is compared to the $7.5 billion cost for the Second Avenue Subway to W125th/Broadway, which includes new lines and three stations, and $5.5 billion for the Interborough Express, which would bring 13,200 new daily riders to the MTA network.
The proximity of the proposed 10th Avenue station to the Port Authority caused two issues with the MTA. First, they felt it would not substantially decrease crowding or expand accessibility regionally since it serves an area already served by other transit lines. Secondly, the MTA would need to coordinate with the Port Authority to ensure that the new bus terminal does not encroach on the new station.
In their analysis, the MTA said that the project would reduce the travel times for those using the station by one minute, but it would increase the travel times of those traveling through the station by one minute as well. They noted that this would result in small overall time savings relative to the cost of the project. The MTA estimated that the project would only increase ridership on the MTA by 600 riders per day.
In August last year, City Councilmember Bottcher, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Senator Hoylman-Sigal, Congressmember Jerry Nadler and Assemblymember Simone rallied to call for the opening of a new 7 train station serving Hell’s Kitchen. The entrance to the station was originally planned to be in the space now occupied by Nicol Squash on W42nd Street. In January 2022, owner Peter Nicol told us about the space where Treehaus used to be, sandwiched between Signature Theatre and the MiMa residential building. “The space is an MTA easement. It was originally designed for a subway station on the 7 line,” said Peter. “In terms of squash, it’s basically a bombproof single box, which is unheard of in Manhattan. There are no columns. There’s nothing in the way. So we could just plonk in four courts.”
A stop at 10th Avenue between W40th and W42nd Streets was originally planned in 2007 during the expansion of the Flushing Line to Hudson Yards. But the MTA, developers and Mayor Bloomberg dropped the proposed station in 2008 and ended up just building one at W34th Street and 11th Avenue. “That was a huge, huge mistake and a huge missed opportunity,” said local Council Member Erik Bottcher at last year’s press conference. “A lot of people live even further west than we are now. It is a very, very long walk to the subway.”
The MTA stressed that all projects were looked at using the same criteria, including ridership, time savings, network resiliency and sustainability, capacity, equity, network leverage, geographic distribution and cost. They also said that as they developed the Comparative Evaluation, they considered best practices from transit agencies across the country and the world, including those in New Jersey, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Barcelona, London and Sydney.
Local elected officials reacted to the report last night. “The MTA’s 20-Year Needs Assessment was extremely disappointing by seemingly putting the 10th Avenue Number 7 fiscally out of reach. The public and policymakers deserve to fully understand the MTA’s analysis, specifically the savings that may result from previous planning for a subway stop at this location when the 7 was extended to Hudson Yards,” said Senator Hoylman-Sigal.
Councilmember Bottcher said: “The MTA has the opportunity to correct the mistake that was made when this station was removed from the original 7 train extension plans. I continue to raise this topic with the MTA, the Governor’s office, the Mayor’s office, and anyone else who will listen. I’ve pitched the Tenth Avenue 7 train station as an ideal ‘legacy project’ to both the Governor and the Mayor. This station would unlock convenient transit access to hundreds of thousands of residents, workers and visitors who currently have to walk long avenue blocks to reach the subway. There’s a reason why a Tenth Avenue stop was in the original plans: it’s needed. Our advocacy was effective in getting this project listed on the MTA’s 2025-2044 20-Year Needs Assessment. It is essential that community members continue let the MTA know how important this is to us.”
”Public transit makes the city move,” said Assemblymember Simone. “Nearly a decade ago, the 7 train was brought to Hudson Yards, passing through Hell’s Kitchen which lacks subway access west of 8th Avenue. The MTA’s most recent needs assessment determined that the 41st Street and 10th Avenue station is near the bottom of capital improvement priorities. The West Side deserves as much investment as the rest of the city, and I am disappointed that the report does not value the residents of the West Side more highly. Congestion pricing is coming soon, delivering funding directly to our transit network, and I will work to ensure expanding access within the congestion zone is made a top priority in our upcoming budget hearings. The last census showed a population growth of 30% in Hell’s Kitchen. Fulfilling the long promise to build a station here makes sense for our community and the future of the city.”
“I have sounded the alarm about the importance of building the station for nearly two decades”, said Congressman Nadler. “In 2007, I wrote that not building the station would represent a monumental failure to Hell’s Kitchen’s growing residential population. By failing to build the station after 2007, the city and the MTA missed out on stimulus infrastructure funding in 2009 that I fought for. With population growth and economic development increasing rapidly and set to grow even more, the people that live and work here have understandably hit a breaking point. The MTA can’t afford to miss out again on federal funding I worked hard to secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. This is especially true when we have a President and Transportation Secretary that have prioritized ending transit deserts. This is a perfect shovel-ready project, and I urge the MTA to green-light the project quickly to help this neighborhood so desperately in need of this station.”
MCB4 Chair LeFrancois said: “Cities around the world are not only adding stops to existing subway lines, but building entire new lines as well, and they’re doing it at a fraction of the cost. The MTA made a huge mistake by not connecting the station at 41st and Tenth to the 7 train stop at 34th Street. The line would have provided even more value for the transit system and access for New Yorkers, but sadly the focus was elsewhere at the time. Completing the station at 41st and Tenth is overdue, and it should certainly be higher up on the MTA’s priorities. As for the costs, it’s appalling how much transit projects cost in New York, and they must come down. But at the end of the day, building new transit always provided a major return on the investment: it’s the subways, without a doubt, that are the city’s arteries — and without them, there is no city. Let’s keep them growing.”
The MTA did not respond to our request for comment on this story.