With a fully accessible ADA-compliant MTA Times Square Shuttle, a much-needed link in the revitalized facility opened on Monday, May 15. Approximately 640,000 customers pass through the Times Square subway station each weekday, more than any of the 472 stations within the entire subway system.
This brand new entrance allows customers to directly enter and exit Broadway Plaza, the middle of the Times Square District. The new station entrance features energy-efficient LED lighting; four new digital information screens, 10 new turnstiles, two emergency gates, with 18 CCTV cameras installed at the mezzanine level and two more cameras in the elevator to keep a secure eye on the subway’s busiest station.
With a fully ADA standards compliant Times Square Shuttle, this is another facet of MTA’s investment into the 42nd Street underground corridor. Other components of this project include upgrades to Grand Central, Bryant Park and Times Square stations, redesigned passageways and platforms, additional elevators, and expanded stairways. This improvement comes as the peak spring and summer visitor season comes full swing to New York City.
Closed prior to the pandemic, the then-existing small staircase morphed into wide stairs and an elevator for everyone who will need one. The station originally opened in 1904, part of the Times Square complex that saw 2,000,000 pedestrian visitors last week.
At the newly opened accessible entrance, two mosaics by artist Nick Cave, referred to individually as “Each One” and “Equal All,” are located near the new entrance and the now-rebuilt 42nd Street Shuttle platform. (A third mosaic on the passageway that connects the B,D,M and F trains at 42nd and Sixth Avenue with the Flushing Line Fifth Avenue Station, two blocks east of Times Square, opened last fall.)
The new elevator, one of six ADA compliant ones at the facility, is part of the One Times Square Building, site of the New Year’s Eve ball drop. The elevator has installed a two-way communication system for those with hearing and speech impairments, providing information to customers in case of an emergency, a first for any MTA-installed elevator.
The new street level entrance has a canopy over the 15-feet wide stairs, with replicas of Waterford crystals that mimic the real ones on the crystal ball dropped on New Year’s Eve. They are visible as you ascend the stairs from the mezzanine. Should you take a moment before the climb, a new historic panel depicts notable events throughout the station’s long history.
Said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber: “We’re adding ADA elevators faster than ever before, and we’re determined to achieve full accessibility – for disabled riders, seniors, people with strollers and packages – everybody.”
Richard Davey, the newly-appointed president of MTA New York City Transit, noted that ridership is showing great progress, with 5 million riders on the subways and buses on May 5 for the first time since March 13, 2020. More somberly, he added that he was laser focused on safety, and appreciative of the new 20 closed circuit cameras.”
MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth spoke of the new mosaics, saying that each piece was about connecting the energy of Times Square with every rider, and honoring the diversity at Times Square.
After the half-hour opening and the traditional ribbon-cutting, Lieber took some questions from the press. He said the system was ready for any kind of weather or security issue, and it would monitor existing technology to provide for the best possible security systems. He also indicated that possible new discount ridership programs are being looked at currently.
Lieber addressed accessibility by noting that an additional 80-plus elevators were already budgeted for in the MTA Capital program, tackling the challenge to make the MTA even accessible then it is now.
Cristyne L. Nicholas, chair of The Broadway Association, applauded the MTA on the new and improved subway station. “The new and improved 42 St-Times Square subway station ... will provide better accessibility for those traveling to the crossroads of the world, and will allow New Yorkers and visitors alike to easily experience the bright lights of Broadway through this new Gateway.”