A new subway ride

The Second Avenue Subway — which opened to the public on Jan. 1 — represents the first major New York City subway expansion in decades. It has been a long time coming — nearly a hundred years.

The new line has been popular with riders so far, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. About 180,000 riders are using it per day, which is up from 124,000 on opening day.

My feature story in the most recent issue of Progressive Railroading looks at some of the many challenges MTA faced in getting the line built and open. The project's completion — which was just the first phase of four needed to build the entire Second Avenue Subway — was a much-needed bright spot for a transit system that's continuing to struggle with overcrowded trains, late arrivals and departures, aging infrastructure and other major problems.

So, while MTA, city and state leaders paused just about a year ago to celebrate the opening of an 1.8-mile segment of new rail service, questions remain as to when the rest of the Second Avenue Subway will open for business. Although MTA has earmarked $1.7 billion in its 2015-2019 capital program for Phase 2, the full funding for construction has not yet been determined.

Still, even at just under 2 miles, the Second Avenue Subway has made getting around New York City a little easier for 180,000 riders every day. In a giant, congested city like New York, that's no small thing.

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