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First stop, Brooklyn: MTA to start citywide subway station improvements here

New stop on the block: The first three stations to receive an upgrade will be the Prospect Avenue, 53rd Street, and Bay Ridge Avenue stations, which all serve the R train.
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These subway stations are going wireless — but there are some strings attached.

The state will use three Brooklyn train terminals as a testing ground for new, high-tech depot designs, but first it has to close the stations for half a year, officials announced on July 18. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to gussy up the R train’s Prospect Avenue, 53rd Street, and Bay Ridge Avenue stations with free wifi, phone chargers, and train countdown clocks in a test run before it rolls out the amenities to 28 other transit hubs across the city, Gov. Cuomo and the state-run agency announced. When work is done, subterranean straphangers will be able to surf the web with unlimited juice, but the most important enhancement is the humble timer, one rider said.

“The countdown clocks will be ideal,” said Bushwickian Abby Clifford, who works off the 53rd Street stop and said the R train’s indeterminacy is its biggest drawback. “It’s more frustrating when you have no idea when the train is coming. When you know, it seems much less bad.”

In addition, the fancy new stations will feature more efficient lighting, new art, and digital displays letting people know if trains are on time before they swipe into the system.

The agency will shut the three stations for up to six months to do the work — an apparent adjustment to its previous promise to temporarily close stations for six to eight weeks when it announced general plans last winter. The authority did not respond to questions about the construction time frame.

Riders were split whether the closures were worth the trouble.

The temporary inconvenience is welcome if it means a better commute in the future, one rider said.

“Hey, if they’re shutting it down for good reason, that’s okay,” said Rosabel Rodriguez, who uses the so-called “Rarely” on her commute from the Bronx to Sunset Park’s Sixth Avenue.But another rider doesn’t want to suffer six months of service changes just so she can charge her phone while she waits around for a train, she said.“That’s gonna mess up my commute,” said Bronxite Brandy Smith, who comes to Sunset Park for nursing school. “I charge my phone daily. No way — not six months just to charge my phone in the train station.”

Officials also announced the transit authority will purchase 1,000 new subway cars — many of which will link together using accordion-like connections found on the agency’s Select Bus Service in order to “create longer, open spaces, allowing for greater passenger flow movement and increasingly capacity,” transit honchos said. The authority will also install canopies above the station entrance stairwells, screens displaying service updates above the stairs, and a neighborhood map outside each entrance, officials said.

The authority will put the R train project out to bid this week and will look for contractors for the other 28 stations over the next year, agency reps said.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 4:58 pm, July 20, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

Thomas from Prospect Heights says:
Because where rusty structural steel fails, snapshot will not.
July 20, 2016, 11:12 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
At least keep the buses, stations and trains up to the state of good repair ASAP, especially for these things that are really used a lot and well neglected.
July 20, 2016, 12:57 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
The MTA spent $50million last year to refurbish the 59th Street station in Sunset Park, what improvements?
July 20, 2016, 1:29 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
They did fix the stairs, rearrange the 60th street entrance,adding a third turnstile and resurface the platforms, all I assume in anticipation of increased traffic from the B9 due to the big project on the N line. Did that really cost $50 million? It's bare bones, nothing fancy. They did most of the work on the weekends, so I would think double time, but $50 million?
July 20, 2016, 1:59 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Forgot the increased lighting at 60th street.
July 20, 2016, 2:21 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
The $50 million figure was posted by the MTA on the bulletin board of the 60 ST mezzanine level at the start of the construction period (since removed). I was expected grand improvement for that much money, but disappointed to see little of face lift.
July 20, 2016, 4:22 pm
Tom from Sunset Park says:
You need a proofreader- "improvements"
July 20, 2016, 4:41 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Several weeks ago there were men in the station [@59th] determining where an elevator will be installed. That must be part of the $50 million.
July 21, 2016, 4:28 pm
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
I use the Bay Ridge Avenue station and find it preposterous that these minor additional features will take the station to be closed for six months.

The fraud and sloth in the MTA and its contractors is total.

They can take the countdown clocks and shove them where the sun don't shine!
July 29, 2016, 12:57 pm
Barbara from here says:
Because where rusty structural steel fails, usb ports will not.
Jan. 14, 4:38 am

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