The long awaited transportation hub, The Fulton Center, is finally opening on Monday at 5 am. The $1.4 billion project spearheaded by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will eventually provide new and easy access to eleven subway lines – and the Path trains – becoming one of the great public spaces in all of New York City.
The Fulton Center is projected to serve 300,000 customers daily, making it the busiest transit hub in Lower Manhattan.
DOWNTOWN Magazine sat down with MTA Spokesman, Kevin Ortiz, to get the scoop on what to expect at the brand new transit hub that many anticipate will change the face of Lower Manhattan.
People have been waiting so long for this opening…what can we expect?
Previously, it was dark and dingy, but now you’ll find a center that is bright, vibrant, and with a wonderful oculus skylight and a piece of art that will essentially bring sunlight all the way down to the lower platforms. It is completely ADA compliant. There are 10 escalators, 15 elevators and 66,000 square-feet of retail space. The ground floor of the beautifully restored Corbin Building will also serve as another entrance to the new Fulton Center.
Wasn’t Fulton Station already a transit hub?
Yes and no. We first opened up the 4/5 lines at Fulton Street in 1905, and incrementally constructed other lines. The 2 and 3 came next in 1918. Then the J and the Z and the A and C lines were the last to come. In essence we had all these lines converge right here but with no real thought behind how to connect them. It was just a complete and utter maze, and that was something we really wanted to address with the Fulton project. For example to get to the J and Z line you had to go down to the A/C platform you have to make a 180 turn and then make your way through the platform and up to the J and Z, so it was confusing and complicated and it just wasn’t a friendly complex. We’ve changed all of that.
How is this going to affect the downtown area?
The best example that I can point to is what we’ve seen at Grand Central. It’s a destination, it’s a tourist attraction, it’s a meeting place, it’s a place to get married. The Fulton Center has truly been transformed into a location where, if you’re from out of town, it’s a must see. There will be many retailers opening up and Westfield is working on filling the retail space right now.
With the luxury retailers at the Brookfield Mall opening across the street…is there even any need to go uptown anymore?!
It’s true. This center is really going to change the way people think about Lower Manhattan.
Can you tell us more about the underground concourse?
The Day Street Concourse is a vital piece to the Fulton Center. It’s a 350-ft long passageway, that will connect the main Fulton Center (the 2/3, J/Z, A/C and 4/5 lines) to the R train at Cortlandt Street, and to the PATH station– once it’s complete – on the far west side. It’s also going to provide additional transfers from Cortlandt Street to the E train and then also to the 1 train station at Cortlandt Street once that’s done as well. When the Port Authority completes its piece, we’re talking about a connection between PATH and 11 subway lines. (We have 24 lines altogether). It’s going to be a destination, a real transit hub – even more so than Grand Central which has only three subway lines and of course Metro North.
And with the great influx of media companies like Condé Nast and Hearst moving down here, you must be anticipating even more traffic.
Exactly. We’ll see more people down here; more activity. Right now 750,000 people pass through Grand Central daily: tourists, riders and commuters. Hopefully we’ll see the same numbers at the Fulton Center.
We just don’t want any naked cowboys coming down here.
It’s going to happen!
Is the new Fulton Center eco-friendly?
The facility meets the highest levels of sustainability and is in the process of becoming LEED Certified.
What else can we expect at the Fulton Center?
In January, it will be completely wired for wi-fi and cell phone use. We are bringing technology into the subways. The system was born in the 20th century and we really needed to bring it into the 21st century. We have a vendor, Transit Wireless, that is wiring all our underground stations for cell phone, data connectivity and wi-fi. Having cell phone access underground is great in case there’s an emergency. What’s cool about the system is that if you call 911, first responders will know exactly where you are even if you are underground. We have about 47 Manhattan stations and 39 queens stations that are wired, and all the major carriers, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile are participating. By 2017 we’ll have all 277 underground stations connected.
That will be a lifesaver if there are any delays on your way to a meeting.
It sure is. We’ve also released all of our data to app developers so they can create apps that will help riders get updated info on trains in real time. The center also offers countdown clocks that provide real time arrival information. We hope to equip every station with some type of real time train arrival information within the next three to five years.
How many people ride the subway daily?
We recently topped 6.1 million people on a couple of days in September. We constantly have to think about how to accommodate the increasing ridership. It’s a trend — people are ditching their cars. A monthly metro card is vastly cheaper than a car payment, car insurance, gas and parking.
What’s going on with the fare hike we’ve been hearing about?
Right now we have fare increases scheduled for 2015 and 2017. We are going to try to hold those at the rate of inflation.
How do you deal with safety on the trains?
Next year, we’ll order new subway cars that will have cameras installed for safety. That’s on top of the 4,200 cameras we already have in stations.
The subways seem so much more advanced, clean, modernized and accessible in other countries. How old is the subway system here?
The New York subway system is more than 110 years old. But the Fulton Center is a totally modern step in the right direction. In London, the subway system is distance-based, which we don’t do. Here in NY, you can ride the A train from 207th Street down to the Far Rockaways, it’s 32 miles but only costs $2.50.
It’s a challenge to keep a system that old in a state of good repair. So we have a 2015-2019 capital program that is going to focus on keeping the system in good shape, enhancing it with technology and expanding it (the 2nd Avenue subway expansion is underway). The first phase of the 2nd Ave subway will be completed by December 2016. It’s going to start at 96th street and connect to the existing tunnel and 63rd Street. Phase 2 is 96th Street to 125th, phase 3 is 63rd to Houston and phase four is to Hanover Square. Expansion is very important to us.
- 8.5 million riders a day ride the MTA subway and buses.
- 4,200 cameras are installed in the subways stations
- 5.8million people ride the subways daily
- You can ride 32 miles from 207 Street down to Far Rockaways for $2.50
- The New York subways system just turned 110 years old on Oct 27.
- There are 468 subways stations, 277 of which are underground
- 76 stations are currently wired for wi-fi and cell phone service
- 750, 000 people pass through Grand Central daily
- There are 24 subway lines altogether
- You can access 9 subway lines at the new Fulton Center, eventually 11 when the Port Authority completes its work
- There are 10 escalators and 15 elevators at the new Fulton Center
- There is 66,000 square feet of retail space at the Fulton Center
-Nicola Harrison Ruiz*
*Nicola Harrison Ruiz is the Men’s Fashion & Lifestyle Editor at DOWNTOWN Magazine. She is also the founder of Harrison Style – a men’s style consulting business. If you want to take your style up a notch or figure out what to wear at your nest big event, you can find her at http://www.harrison-style.com