After 15 years of labor and $11.6 billion spent, the much-vaunted East Side Access project linking the Long Island Railroad to east Midtown is finally fully operational, bringing a brand new period of comfort and velocity to commuters within the better metropolitan space.
The new terminal and providers are nonetheless in soft-launch mode, with restricted providers between Queens and Grand Central Madison — the shiny new 700,000-square-foot facility that serves as terminus and connector — for at the very least three weeks.
But even when full service ramps up, it’s unlikely to be a serious web plus, due to main logistical issues. (One small pattern: Last week’s semi-grand opening was held up by a busted fan.)
Once the “gentle launch” interval ends, different providers are to get shortchanged on account of elevated wants for monitor capability for ESA — particularly strains operating direct from Long Island to the Brooklyn-Atlantic Terminal. That means longer commute instances and missed connections for a complete passel of commuters, together with these heading to work within the monetary trade.
Not to say the lo-o-o-ng escalator trip to and from the tracks, at the very least 4 minutes every means.
Plus, a scarcity of the precise kind of prepare vehicles might imply chopping some trains operating to Grand Central Madison from 12 vehicles to 10 for months, probably which means crowding and longer wait instances. And Penn Station operates 24/7 whereas Grand Central Madison closes from 2 a.m. to five:30 a.m. Good factor no person must get wherever late at evening or within the early morning!
All this, for “simply” $12 billion (together with $1 billion in debt prices). Meanwhile, LIRR ridership is down massively, to at most 70% of pre-pandemic totals. So at the very least 30% of the official rely of 160,000 beneficiaries of the brand new service . . . isn’t there.
You can’t blame at the moment’s MTA managers. The guys who began this white elephant are all lengthy gone, as are those who didn’t pull the plug when it was solely, say, $6 billion down the outlet. But the very fact stays that the company blew far too many sources on an enormous venture of modest (and combined) profit.
East Side Access isn’t why the MTA’s now in fiscal free-fall, nevertheless it’s a part of the issue. The MTA, and your complete state, must arrange controls to make sure no taxpayer-supported entity does something this dumb ever once more.