It’s Time To Restore 24 Hour Service To The 5 Line In The Bronx

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the State of transportation in the Bronx and particularly the underserved East Bronx where 4 new Metro North stations are planned for some time around 2019-2020 or so.

But what can the MTA do NOW to, at the very least, make commuting at night a bit easier for millions? They already FAILED the Bronx by not extending the Second Avenue subway to the Bronx.

The answer is to restore 24 hour service to the 5 Line.

Each night around 10:30PM, the last 5 trains begin to roll out from Bowling Green leaving Bronxites with no direct 5 train to and from the Bronx until around 6:00AM. This results in millions of passengers a year who live above East 180th Street to take three trains instead of just one.

Passengers wishing to go to any station from 3rd Avenue and 149th Street to the 5 train’s terminus at Eastchester / Dyre Avenue  must transfer to a 2 train at 149th Street and Grand Concourse walking down two flights of steps making this an arduous or impossible task for people with disabilities due to the lack of an elevator at the station.

Courtesy MTA New York City Transit

This leads to an already overcrowded 2 train to become jam packed as it’s the only train serving the stations between 3rd Avenue and 149th Street and East 180th Street since the 5 stops running. For passengers going beyond East 180th to Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Gun Hill Road, Baychester, and Eastchester / Dyre Avenue, they must again get off and transfer to a shuttle train.

Keep in mind that 3 trains is the minimum needed to reach this section of the Bronx. If these riders are coming from other areas we’re talking about multiple transfers.

Just how many subway riders are there between 3rd Avenue and 149th and Eastchester/Dyre Avenue?

In 2012 (2013 statistics haven’t been published yet by the MTA):

-An average of 95,413 daily riders on weekdays Monday through Friday.
-An average of 79,770 on Saturdays and Sundays.
-28,789,161 annual riders.

These numbers do not include 149th Street and Grand Concourse which has seen an increase of 1 million annual rides from 2007 to 2012. It is also important to note that 3rd Avenue and 149th Street saw an increase of 500,000 annual rides during the same time. That’s 1.5 million new Annual riders in two adjacent stations in one neighborhood.

These two stations are heavily used by Melrose residents which is the fastest growing neighborhood in the Bronx and 3rd fastest in the city as per census data from 2010 and subsequent surveys.

And if the increasing ridership trends from 2007 to 2012 holds true for 2013 then we can only estimate that the numbers are significantly higher.

By restoring the 5 to 24 hour service, the impact goes beyond just the 5 line in the Bronx above  3rd Avenue and 149th Street but it will add more frequent service in Manhattan’s severely underserved East Side.
It will alleviate a congested 4 train which shuttles 5 train passengers during those hours of no service and will also alleviate a packed journey on the 2 line between 149th Street and Grand Concourse up to East 180th Street.

So, folks, what do you think?

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.