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#7 Train Extension in Doubt

The New York Times reports that state and MTA officials are unenthusiastic about extending the #7 subway line from its current terminus at Times Square, to the Jacob Javits Center at 34th St & 11th Ave.

The state and the MTA believe that East Side Access (which will bring LIRR trains into Grand Central) and the Second Avenue Subway are more urgent transit priorities.

Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff believe that the #7 extension is essential to long-term commercial growth on Manhattan's West Side. The city's bid for the 2012 Olympics also assumes that the train will be there. But the Olympic bid has always been a long-shot, and the New York Jets, who want to build a stadium over the MTA's west side rail yards, say they don't need the subway.

The city has offered to pay the #7 extension's $1.8 billion cost out of its own coffers. The theory is that the train will bring commercial development, which will bring higher property tax revenues, which will allow the city to pay off the bonds used to finance the project. But it would be unprecedented to promise future tax revenues to fund a transit project on this scale.

My own view is that the MTA has enough big-ticket projects on its plate, and I have yet to see a compelling case for letting this one go forward. Let's see how the West Side evolves before betting the ranch on future tax revenues that might not materialize.

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