Students See Both Sides of 168th Street Station Updates

by JOE LIGGIO, Asst. News Editor

Fresh off of a recent subway repair at 238th Street, members of the Manhattan College community now have another subway service update to contend with.

Since Jan. 5, 1 train service has bypassed 168th Street as part of scheduled maintenance set to tie up service though early 2020. As a result, the crucial transfer between 1 and A/C trains at the station has been cut off to subway riders, including those utilizing the stop in getting to and from Manhattan College.

The MTA is currently replacing all four elevators and upgrading stairways at the stop, which have seen little repair since the station was originally constructed in 1906, according to the MTA. Communications, security and fire alarm systems will also be upgraded during the closure. While the A and C trains are still running to 168th, lack of stairwell access to the 1 train platforms has rendered service to the line inaccessible.

This is the first in a series of station updates set to tie up service in Washington Heights over the next few years. Following the elevator repairs at 168th Street, the 181st Street A, 191st Street 1, 190th Street A and 181st Street 1 stations will also receive updates as part of a project that will continue through 2022, according to the MTA.

With the severance of the transfer, some in the Manhattan College community are now tasked with working their way around the updates. Junior Amit Persaud, a commuting student from Woodhaven, Queens, is one such Jasper dealing with the changes.

“The 168th Street station being closed definitely keeps me on my toes more,” said Persaud via e-mail. “I’m more aware of when I have to get off at 59th Street-Columbus Circle to catch the 1 train there instead because I’ve been getting off at 168th for two years now and I got used to it.”

One alternative method of getting to the station is to take the 1 train to 157th Street and transfer to the M5 bus, but those needing a more direct connection to the A and C have the options to transfer at 59th Street-Columbus Circle like Persaud, or transfer out-of system for free between either the 207th Street or 215th Street 1 stations and the end of the A line at 207th Street.

Prior to the updates, Persaud’s five-times per week commute between Manhattan College and his local station, 75th Street-Elderts Lane on the J/Z line, would take about an hour and 45 minutes each way. With the service update, the trip is now closer to two hours.

“The commute’s a little bit longer, but it’s nothing drastic. I actually prefer getting off at 59th Street, mainly because the 1 train is less crowded there than when I would get on it at 168th. I don’t get to take that quick nap when the A train would go from 59th to its next stop [at] 125th Street, which could take up to 10 minutes, but I’ll live.”

Overall, Persaud doesn’t feel that the update has had a significant impact on his commute.

“I think when the construction at 168th is completed next year, I’m going to stick with getting off at 59th to catch the 1 [train].”

At the same time, some Jaspers have had the unique opportunity to see another side to the work being done at 168th Street.

Rebecca Grech, a senior and civil engineering major at Manhattan is currently interning with Skanska USA Civil Northeast, the development and construction group awarded the $61 million dollar station repair contract by the MTA.

“I have been working since May and will be [at the site] until finals,” said Grech via email. “One other MC student was interning with me in the fall and a few of the full time employees are Manhattan alumni.”

Grech works an eight-hour shift every Wednesday, taking the 1 train down to 181st Street and walking to the company’s site office a few blocks north of the project.

“On a typical day I have been working on a lot of document control, processing submittals and communicating with the owner and subcontractors. I also shadow some of the work and inspections in the station,” said Grech.

She continued.

“I love the team I work with and have learned so much throughout my experience on the project … Overall, I think [it] is going well … I’m optimistic for the progress of the elevator replacement.”

While the repairs may pose an inconvenience for the time being, the MTA insists that it a necessary and temporary one.

“Replacing these elevators is long overdue and critical for reliable access to these unique ‘deep stations,’ and we’ve put together a schedule that takes care not to cause unnecessary inconvenience for customers,” said MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford in a press statement this past December. “We thank our customers for their patience during this extraordinary work and hope they take advantage of the enhanced bus service and additional free transfers we’ve arranged for the duration of the projects.”