Some subway stations are getting so packed, the MTA may one day begin intermittently shutting down entrances to keep platforms and transfer points from becoming dangerously overcrowded. According to the Post's city hall bureau chief, the idea was floated at a CB 5 meeting in October. “What they said to us verbally is some of the stations are threatening to get so overcrowded, at certain times of the day they’d consider closing them down,” CB 5 district manager Wall Rubin said.
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said there is "zero risk" of entrances being closed "tomorrow or anything like that," but he seemed to acknowledge that unless adequate funding is found to widen stairwells and redesign passageways, stations like Grand Central may have to be shut down at peak periods to relieve congestion, as is the practice in the London Underground. An MTA handout at the CB5 meeting apparently included a picture of Victoria Station with the caption "What We Want to Avoid."
"Avoid" may not be the correct word, given that an MTA study showed it currently takes 125 seconds to transfer from the southbound 4/5/6 to the 7 (it's supposed to take 45 seconds). And Penn Station had to be shut down during the Thanksgiving rush due to overcrowding (although that wasn't entirely the MTA's fault).
The agency estimates that it needs $340 to $465 million to make the necessary changes to Grand Central's subway exits and the stations on Fifth Ave and East 51st street by 2030.
That money is supposed to trickle in from the much-heralded rezoning of Midtown East, which Councilmember Dan Garodnick says won't come fast enough: “There are infrastructure needs that we have today—even putting aside adding four million square feet of new commercial development and 8,000 people who are anticipated coming into Grand Central for the first time."