Unknown to most of us, a track rehabilitation program that includes eight months of F Train partial shutdowns and full closures began last weekend. Projects will run through October and force many painful adjustments. The 63rd Street Line Fixation Track Rehabilitation Project is about fixing on the fly. Here’s a summary of what Roosevelt Islanders will face.
by David Stone
The Daily thanks Larry Parnes for the heads up.
The work ahead centers on the tracks that first went into action in 1989 when Roosevelt Island finally got subway service. 57th Street, Lexington/63rd, Roosevelt Island and 21st Street/Queensbridge all get shutdowns and full closures, but Roosevelt Island may be the most difficult on passengers.
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That’s because of the paucity of nearby options and the lack of commitment or support from RIOC.
The 63rd Street subway line is a major underground transportation artery. Connecting major boroughs, the line is an essential part of urban life for commuters and tourists alike. The 63rd Street subway line runs between 21st Street-Queensbridge station in Long Island City to the East 63rd Street station on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
The Track Rehabilitation Project in Segments
Coordinating the work, the MTA created schedules for partially and fully shutting down F Train stations from February thru October. Many inconveniences are in store for Roosevelt Island, and sometimes, we’ll rely on Rs and Ms and shuttle buses.
We’ll attach a copy of the plan along with this article, but you can also join a Zoom presentation for Community Board 8 on March 1st at 6:30 p.m. For access to the Zoom meeting, sign in by clicking this link: < https://forms.gle/jK7foWccwtbsaM7G6 >
Partial Closures and Full Shutdowns
Already underway is a series of full F Train shutdowns through the tunnel. That began last weekend. Five more are planned with the next one on April 28th thru May 1st – at the peak of Cherry blossom season when demand rises. The other four are “TBD.”
Mitigating the challenges, the MTA will again provide shuttle bus services between Roosevelt Island and Queens Plaza where riders can board a number of operating lines. That worked well the first time around, avoiding serious jams at the Tram, but as the weather warms and tourists return, pressures increase.
As we saw last weekend, RIOC will probably not help or even acknowledge the problems. They are exacerbated because of RIOC’s failure at dealing with the MTA for OMNY on the Tram. This forces Tram riders to stand in line for outdated, frequently malfunctioning MetroCard machines.
More and Probably Worse
- Between May 1st and June 30th, all weekday F Trains detour away from Roosevelt Island for two months. But M Trains help a little with service into Manhattan. No trains will run at all from Manhattan into Queens. This is evening rush hour hell in the making with only buses, ferries, and the Tram as options in both directions.
- On weekends and nights during the above timeframe, F Trains run into Manhattan, but the other direction remains out.
- F Trains are entirely out on weekdays and weekends from July 1st through August 11th, but R Trains replace them in both directions. Late nights, E Trains serve Roosevelt Island. This change comes without serious inconveniences.
- But brace yourselves for August 12th through October 13th as the partial shutdowns and full closures return the worst of this project. While M Trains provide a Queens-bound service, there will be no Manhattan-bound trains at any time. This happens during the peak of the tourist season, and no new alternatives are on the menu. Weekends and nights are included as F Trains return but only during those hours.
Other potential worries are the projected but not firm changes in Queens bus lines that include Roosevelt Island. The Q102 goes away at some point and is replaced by an entirely different route. But we don’t know when, and this is already years behind schedule.
Getting OMNY readers working for the Tram could help a little, but the MTA has stiff-armed RIOC on that. And although she runs both agencies, Governor Kathy Hochul has shown no interest in helping out.