The Second Avenue subway took nearly 70 years and $4.5 billion of dollars to complete, but it took just 30 minutes for its first problems to arise — and for annoyed straphangers to start griping.
“At least Mussolini made the trains run on time, every train has been late so far,” said Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa Sunday from the newly christened 96th Street Station platform. “I thought this was going to be the eighth wonder of the world. Even in Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, the stations are in better condition.”
Other riders agreed, complaining of waits up to 10 minutes as operators smoothed out signalling problems.
“I’m like, traffic? Really?” joked Upper East Side resident Estelle Friedman, who came out to ride the rails. “On day one of a brand new subway line that we waited 100 years for?”
“On the inaugural #2ndavesubway with my cousin, signal malfunctions at 63rd St! After all the hype, we’re still riding with @MTA after all,” chimed in Twitter user Ben Starr.
And keen-eyed commuters spotted another subterranean staple: trash.
“The 2nd Ave. subway has been running for literally 23 minutes and people have already strewn garbage about,” tweeted Ted Berg, who posted a snap of a plastic bag and other refuse.
Train buff Peter Reilly, 47, cheered the three gleaming new stations–but panned the bathroom at the 72nd Street station.
“It would be nice if you walked in here and there was more than just one frigging stall. I mean, this is a major transit hub; more than one person might need to pee at a time,” he said.
The new line even moved some New Yorkers to tears — of joy.
“Hallelujah, finally!” yelled 58-year-old Steven Slofsky in the 86th Street station. “I’ve been waiting for this for 58 years!”
“I remember when they were going to start phase two in 1972, then it got disbanded because of budget cuts. This project was actually 100 years in the making,” he said, starting to tear up. “I’m so happy, they actually met their goal and pulled it off on time.”
Slofsky, who was returning home after a hospital stay, was especially moved by the prospect of more convenience for the disabled on less-crowded trains.
“Now the 4,5 and 6 trains won’t be as overcrowded,” he mumbled as a tear slid down his cheek. “It’s mostly a convenience for people, especially those with disabilities.”
The three new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets opened to the public at 11:45 a.m. Sunday. Trains began running around noon.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast were among those to take the first train from the 96th Street Station.
The initial phase of the Q train extension cost some $4.5 billion, and ground was first broken in April 2007.
The subway line was first proposed in the late 1920s.
Trains are only running from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. through this week, with full 24-hour service slotted to begin Jan. 9.