The long-awaited Second Avenue subway is officially open, as trains began picking up New Yorkers at three new Upper East Side stations at noon sharp on New Year’s Day. Years of delays and cost over-runs receded from locals’ minds like a bad Monday morning commute, as scores of New Yorkers stood in line at Upper East Side stations then boarded the first Q train heading south.
“It will change my life practically speaking, and it’s going to breathe new life into the neighborhood existentially speaking,” said Andrew Kavesh, a 20-year resident of the Upper East Side who endured years of cacophony from construction on the line.
Excited New Yorkers began lining up outside the new subway stations an hour before the line officially opened. The 2nd Avenue Merchants Association was on hand, giving out hundreds of Metrocards to those in line. With a New Year’s Eve-style countdown at noon, police removed barricades and cheering New Yorkers descended on escalators toward waiting trains.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, who represents the Upper East Side among other neighborhoods said the subway was an example “of what government can do when we all work together.” Gesturing at the line of people waiting to ride the new subway, she added, “You can see the immense need.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand as several thousand New Yorkers piled onto the first official run of the new Q train. There was applause as the train pulled out of 86 street station heading south.
The new stations for the Q are at 96th St., 86th St. and 72nd St. on 2nd Avenue.
The new subway will seem unfamiliar to New Yorkers used to riding the city’s older lines. With sweeping, well-lit concourses, wide platforms and high ceilings, the new stations feel more like the D.C. Metro than typical Gotham subway stations. The new design though has come at a steep cost; on a per-mile basis, the first phase of the planned three-phase 2nd Avenue line is perhaps the most expensive subway in the world.