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Debate Over Proposed Utica Avenue Subway Line

One of the suggestions in Mayor Bill de Blasio's OneNYC citywide plan is nothing new: an oft-proposed subway extension down Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. Some question whether the area's relatively low density warrants such an expense.
June 28, 2015, 9am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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New York MTA

Nowhere in the country is transit ridership growing quicker than in the American subway's original home. "Between 2009 and 2014—just five years—the New York Subway system's ridership increased by 384 million annual rides, far more than any other U.S. rail system carries in total."

So far, the city has found it difficult to fund the service improvements that figure demands. Mayor de Blasio's recently-released city plan suggests sweeping changes to the system, notably including two Second Avenue Subway extension phases. 

Another suggestion has garnered attention: "Most dramatically, OneNYC recommends that the MTA study the extension of the Subway south along Utica Avenue through East Flatbush and Flatlands, a roughly four-mile route that would, if built, include the first new Subway stations outside Manhattan since 1989 and the first in Brooklyn since 1956."

However, the article observes that a full subway investment beneath Utica may be overkill: population density around the proposed Utica line is significantly lower than in the areas surrounding other proposed paths. An alternative exists: light rail. "Missing from the discussion is any intermediary between buses and Subways—it's as if the vocabulary of high-capacity surface rail has been excised from the minds of transportation planners in New York City."

It is important to note that the Utica line, if built, would predominantly serve poorer minority communities. Any discussion of its pros and cons should keep that fact in mind. 

Full Story:
Published on Monday, April 27, 2015 in the transport politic
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