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Editorial January 5, 2017  RSS feed

OP-ED

BY JOSEPH B. RASKIN

Service began on the first segment of the 2nd Avenue Subway on Jan. 1. The Q line has been extended from the 7th Avenue/57th Street Station to 96th Street.

Much will be made of the amount of time that it took for this to happen since the line was first proposed in 1929 and the cost of building this first segment.

What won’t be discussed is the lack of priority given to expanding the transit system or maintaining the existing system over the years. Capital and maintenance programs were deferred because few outside of the transit agencies wanted to build and they thought that the operation of the system could be paid for through the farebox. Public transit is not now, nor will it ever be, a money-making venture.

How do I feel about the opening of the 2nd Avenue Line? A great thing, as long as it’s viewed as a first step toward the construction of a longer line and part of an overall continuing expansion of the transit system. The second phase of the current 2nd Avenue plan, a northern extension to 125th Street, must take place, as well as further extensions downtown.

And there needs to be more than that.

Extensions of existing lines into southeast, eastern and northeast Queens have been long postponed and should again be considered. Many people are calling for the reactivation of the Long Island Rail Road’s Rockaway Beach Line. Why not?

The Northeast Bronx still needs additional rail service, either through the reactivation and expansion of the commuter rail system or the expansion of the subway system.

Why not build the long-promised Utica Avenue Line?

Why not finally build a rail link to Staten Island, and reactivate the Staten Island Railway’s North Shore Line?

There’s no question that you can think of other lines.

The cost of doing all of this, or even part of this, is immense. But these are necessary steps for the continuing growth and development of New York City and the metropolitan area as a whole.

Transit planners of the past never viewed any one plan as being a final step in the completion of the system; realistically, it will never be completed. We need to look at the opening of this segment of the 2nd Avenue Line in the same way that Winston Churchill viewed an early World War II victory: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Joseph B. Raskin was in the MTA’s

Division of Government and Community Relations before retiring in 2015. He is the author of “The Routes

Not Taken: A Trip Through New York City’s Unbuilt Subway System,” available in paperback, hardcover and on Amazon Kindle.