The MTA announced today that it is planning a major overhaul of the 42nd Street Shuttle, which connects riders between Grand Central Terminal and Times Square. The plans include replacing the Times Square terminal with accessible platforms, reconfiguring platforms in Grand Central, and updating its signaling system.
Work to modernize the shuttle, which began operating in 1918, will begin on August 16 and will be completed in phases, wrapping up in 2022. The tracks and stations where the 42nd Street shuttle operates were constructed in 1904 as part of the first subway line, which ran from City Hall to Harlem. The segment where the shuttle is today was later repurposed for the crosstown shuttle, the MTA says.
The new Grand Central platform is expected to add 20 percent peak-hour capacity, the MTA says. “The project will allow the MTA to move more people, run longer trains and simplify transfers for customers between the city’s busiest transit hubs,” MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim said in a statement.
Some aspects of the 42nd Street Shuttle modernization will include expanding trains from four cars to six, centralizing the three-track operation to two tracks on one platform, and replacing the current signal system (which dates back to 1930s). The renovation of the Times Square terminal will include building an ADA-compliant centralized platform, a new station entrance, modern turnstiles, and new crew rooms. At Grand Central, the changes will include renovating platforms and adding a new staircase.
According to the MTA, more than 100,000 straphangers use the 42nd Street shuttle every day. The shuttle will continue running with service changes during construction. During phase one of the project, the shuttle will still run but with reduced service, and for phase two, the MTA will post specific service changes on a dedicated website. The authority also advises commuters to plan for extra minutes of travel time during peak hours and to take the 7 train, which also connects the two transit hubs.