I took some time out today to visit the new 2nd Avenue Subway. It officially opened today after about 45 years of construction and delays (but really, the line has been in discussion since about 1910!). The project is a controversial one mainly because it is already way over-budget and this first phase is only opening access to 3 additional stations on the East Side (72nd Street, 86th Street, and 96th Street along 2nd Avenue).
Controversy aside though, I really enjoy seeing new stations open. In just over 1 year, I have been a witness to two major extensions of the MTA -- something that doesn't come often and something that I know is rare given how slow infrastructure projects like this tend to be completed. First was the Hudson Yards 7 line extension back in September 2015 and now this 2nd Avenue Phase I portion. Just like the Hudson Yards extension, the 3 new stations along the 2nd Avenue line feature bright-white fluorescent lighting with a lot of aluminum metal plates covering what would normally be the concrete walls of a typical Subway station. I have a love-hate with this sort of look because on the one hand, it gives the new stations a coherent identity in the Subway but also tends to look very dated very quickly. On the flipside of that coherent station identity is the unfortunate loss of character to each new Subway station. If you compare the 72nd, 86th, and 96th Street stations, they all look pretty much the same which is in contrast to other stations in the system which tend to be more easily identifiable through color schemes or murals or some other motif. Without seeing the station numbers on the 3 new stations, it is nearly impossible to tell which station you are at which I can only imagine will be a huge headache for travelers in the long run.
But what am I saying? This is a huge feat for the MTA and a slow but steady win for the city. So get out there and ride this Subway.