The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released some encouraging news on Monday that may finally mean that the No. 7 line extension is nearly ready to open to the public. The MTA announced it has started training its tower operators, train dispatchers, and train operators on how to shuttle trains safely to the newly built subway station at 34th Street–Hudson Yards.
The training, which started on May 26, lasts two days for tower operators and train dispatchers, who oversee train crews and manage the movement and spacing of trains along a certain route. Tower operators control the signals and switches to safely route trains on the lines. Train operators spend two hours on training.
“We are in the final 50-yard sprint of this project,” said Michael Horodniceanu, president of the MTA Capital Construction Company, in a statement.
Horodniceanu added that the MTA is expected to announce an opening date in the next few weeks. When reached by email, spokesman Kevin Ortiz wouldn’t elaborate further, saying only that the line would be open sometime this summer. As of now, training is scheduled to continue through the end of June.
“Providing this training for our subway personnel is one of the last steps toward opening the 7 Line Extension for revenue service,” said Carmen Bianco, president of the MTA New York City Transit. “The 7 Line Extension will open up the far West Side to mass transit for the first time, and the new station and additional tail tracks for train storage will also improve service for customers using the line in Queens and Manhattan.”
The new station will be located at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue, near the proposed Hudson Yards multibillion-dollar development complex and the Javits Convention Center, and will be the farthest stop on the west side in Manhattan. The 1.5-mile extension will connect the 34th Street station to the existing line, which currently starts at the Times Square–42nd Street stop in Manhattan and goes to Flushing in Queens. Current ridership on the 7 line, according to the MTA, is a little more than half a million people a week. Ortiz said they expect that number to increase.
The $2.4 billion project has been marred by constant delays, however, since construction began in 2007. It was originally scheduled to open at the end of 2013, then June 2014 was floated as an end date, before the MTA settled on February 2015. It’s not clear whether what was causing the delays, namely the elevator system and ventilation fans, has been fixed. But the MTA said that testing of its communications and mobile radio systems has been completed and that the other tests, on its fire alarm system and other communications, are on schedule.
The 7 line extension is the newest stretch of subway line to be constructed in 25 years. In October 1989, the MTA completed the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street extension, which connects Manhattan to Queens.