The Times Square subway station has received a $30 million facelift with the installation of a new 15-foot wide staircase at the “center” of Broadway Plaza at 43rd Street.
MTA CEO Janno Lieber called the new installation “stunning… first class” and said the intent was to provide both New Yorkers and tourists with a clear path in and out of the “Crossroads of the World.”
Lieber said the staircase is 450 square feet larger than the previous one which was not centrally located.
“It was so inconvenient. You saw so many tourists coming down there and being disoriented. Not anymore. The new entrance provides direct access to Times Square,” Lieber said according to the New York Post.
A $10 million elevator, that runs from street level to the mezzanine, was also part of the project. The elevator was paid for by Jamestown LP, which owns 1 Times Square and furthers ADA accessibility goals, a top priority for the NYC Transit Authority.
The elevator is a first of its kind in New York’s subway system and is equipped with two-way communication.
According to ABC 7 New York, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer, Quemuel Arroyo said, “That means riders who are deaf have a means to communicate with us, and riders who don’t have the ability to speak can also engage with us.”
Officials said that also included in the project is a street-level canopy, an expanded turnstile area, 18 close-caption surveillance cameras and a mosaic completed by local artist Nick Cave.
The mosaic, which stretches some 4,600 square feet is now the largest mosaic in the subway system, officials said.
The installation of the new staircase and elevator is part of a broader project, the 42nd Street Connection Project, which is also focusing on improving parts of Grand Central and Sixth Avenue.
Officials say the stairway project, constructed during the pandemic, is critical to the revival of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theaters in the vicinity.
NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director, Andrew Rigie told ABC 7 New York, “It’s not only going to help our businesses, but all the people who work throughout the five boroughs in our businesses making sure they are getting to work and coming home through a beautiful station.”
MTA President of Construction and Development, Jamie Torres-Springer, said on Monday that the project was “$8 million under budget and on time,” adding that, “The project is a great example of how MTA has been making the most of lower ridership during COVID to transform the system and expedite the projects that make a real difference in daily commutes.”
“All of this work gets done while running the busiest station complex in the system, under the busiest public gathering space in the world,” Torres-Springer said.
Despite the improvements, ridership remains down roughly 40 percent prompting some to question whether the investment was worth it and questions of safety, particularly after a mass shooting incident last month, continue to swirl.
In response MTA Chairman and CEO Lieber said, “All of us are seeing the mayor’s commitment to putting cops on platforms and trains. Suddenly there’s a significant number of people who do bad things who are being collared.”