By Tom Momberg
Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials took the first ride on the 7 train from the new Hudson Yards station Sunday morning after an official ribbon-cutting for the $2.4 million project that now connects Flushing and northwest Queens to the far west side of Manhattan.
The special VIP train made a short round trip to the previous stop at Times Square and then delivered the brass back to the dramatic new station on 11th Avenue and 34th Street.
Taking the train line west, almost everyone still leaves the train at Times Square, but the mayor said the extension of the 7 line is going to help the whole city. He said the large new station could serve nearly 57,000 riders a day by 2025, once the new 50-million-square-foot mixed-use Hudson Yards Park development is complete.
“This extension connects this extraordinary development happening here—a whole new city being created within our city—with thousands of jobs in neighborhoods like Flushing and in Central Queens, bringing people from those neighborhoods to the jobs here,” de Blasio said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been going back and forth with de Blasio over how to fund the state Metropolitan Transit Authority’s five-year capital plan, did not attend the opening of the first new subway station in 26 years.
De Blasio has defied the governor’s demands that the city pick up a bigger portion of the bill for the $32 billion plan, which calls for major vehicle and technology upgrades, but no major new investments in Queens.
And on Sunday, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast, who asked the city to increase its share in funding following the derailment of the G train in Brooklyn last week, continued to push Cuomo’s agenda asking the city for a greater contribution.
Prendergast, a Cuomo appointee, said 80 percent of the MTA’s assets—which are controlled by the state—are in the city.
“And Mayor de Blasio, we appreciate your support of this project, but we need your help,” Prendergast said in his remarks under the new Hudson Yards station canopy.
De Blasio bit back, saying that 73 percent of the MTA’s funding comes from the city budget as well as tolls and fares paid by city residents.
“We are doing our fair share,” de Blasio said. “We want to see the federal government step up. We want to see the state government step up. For the good of all, let’s do this together—and we can really build the kind of future we need.”
The new station is almost cathedral-like compared to existing ones. Far west side resident Lisa Cousins said the new station is unlike any other transportation terminal in the city.
“The clean white retro style of the station kind of reminds me of ’60s ultra-modern architecture,” Cousins said. “Coming down that long escalator is almost psychedelic—it’s kind of awesome.”
Cousins, who lives near 37th Street and 10th Avenue and works at an office on 18th Street and 6th Avenue, said the new station cuts her commute time in half.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb