DUMBO riders want a safer York Street station

"In case of fire or a bomb scare, the station is a corked bottle."

November 25, 2019 Scott Enman
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DUMBO residents and employees are renewing their efforts to get the MTA to build a second entrance at the York Street subway station through an in-person and online petition. The current layout of the station, they say, is not only inconvenient, but also hazardous.

“The situation there is terrible,” said Danny Pearlstein of Riders Alliance. “This is a good example of how the city is really changing around its transit system. The MTA has a situation there that is potentially dangerous and it’s certainly persistently problematic.

“It’s a similar situation to the fact that the subway is largely inaccessible to people who can’t use stairs, but because it’s the MTA, it’s a problem that has to be resolved over decades.”

During rush hour, the station’s sole egress and narrow stairs routinely fill up with commuters. The base of the steps becomes jam-packed as tourists purchase MetroCards and commuters attempt to enter and exit through just three turnstiles.

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Making matters worse, there’s also a pesky pole situated right in the middle of all that chaos. Just past the turnstiles, straphangers enter a narrow tunnel where they often dodge and juke their way through a maze-like horde of people to catch an oncoming train.

This is the only entrance to the York Street station. Photo: Scott Enman/Brooklyn Eagle

York Street, served only by the F train, averages more than 3.2 million commuters a year, according to the MTA, and it saw a 2.6 percent increase in ridership from 2017 to 2018. The neighborhood has roughly 5,000 residents as of 2018 and about 14,000 employees.

Members of the DUMBO BID and DUMBO Action Committee have been collecting signatures outside of the station, as well as online in a campaign that they hope will finally put pressure on the MTA to take action. They have received about 1,500 signatures on paper and online.

“From a local perspective with the amount of growth that is happening in DUMBO — all the planned development and the development that is currently underway — it’s definitely an item that can’t be ignored,” said Kalvis Mikelsteins of the DUMBO Bid. “Eventually people are going to be waiting in line outside of the station to get in to commute.”

He added that he hopes the station can be redesigned simultaneously while the BQE goes under construction


A rendering of a second entrance to the station. Rendering: Delson or Sherman Architects

In 2016, a DUMBO-based architectural firm proposed creating a second entranceway — with an elevator — near the Manhattan Bridge.

“What feels annoying on an ordinary day becomes life threatening in an emergency,” reads the website of Delson or Sherman Architects. “In case of fire or a bomb scare, the station is a corked bottle. What’s urgently needed is a second means of egress, barrier free, at the south end of the platform.”

Mallory Kasdan, a DUMBO resident, member of DAC and parent, argued that city agencies need to work together better to improve the neighborhood’s infrastructure as additional people come to the area. She said she often worries not only about safety inside the subway station — where a narrow platform with massive pillars forces people dangerously close to the edges — but also outside due to ongoing construction.

“The track is super narrow,” she said. “When people are getting off of trains in both directions, the platform gets so crowded that it’s scary; you feel like someone is going to fall onto the track. If someone threw a bomb, if someone had a gun, people would get trampled. There’s no way to get out.”

The MTA did not return a request for comment.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

Feature image from Creative Commons

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  1. Kathryn Gilchrist

    York Street is not the worst. The 36th street station is an express stop for the D and F, and also serves all the R passengers locally. It has only 2 exits on only one end of all these trains. Any problem at the other end of the train would leave passengers at that end with no way to escape. This is an express stop with thousands of passengers during rush hour.

  2. Sean Haley

    The same problem exists with the High St exit for the A/C. Too many tourists, they all use the same exit where an escalator keeps piling more and more people and no one can get out. There is a second exit but poor signage leads tourists all to the congested one. It gets dangerous at times with pushing.