Melrose is a Harlem Line Metro-North Station (all New Haven Line trains have always skipped it, Fordham was the only stop the predecessor railroad was allowed to serve on the New York Central in the Bronx) in the South Bronx with a fascinating history. The station should be an important stop because of its proximity to the Bronx Courthouses and 'The Hub.' It is also only a half-mile walk from Yankee Stadium and as late as the mid-1960s the New York Central Railroad experimented with Yankee Special and Football Giants Specials running a trip from North White Plains to Melrose with a return trip leaving 30 to 45 minutes after the game on demand, similar to the "Yankee Clipper" service today (the new Yankees-East 151 Street station on the Hudson Line that opened in 2009 is significantly closer to the Stadium). Originally the station, when the open cut of the railroad was completed in the 1890s, had a brick station house with the standard amenities located above two station platforms (the railroad already had 4 tracks in these days) in what must have been a similar layout to Fordham's Station (the only intact historic Metro-North Station in the Bronx). The year of the building's demolishment is unknown.
The opening of the NYCHA Morrisania Air Rights Facility in 1980 with three new towers of public housing built on a series of platforms directly above the Metro-North tracks harmed ridership with dimly lit platforms no longer having the protection of daylight. The entrances, then still directly along 161 Street were hard to spot. In March 1988 the MTA announced plans to close the Melrose Station. A NY Times article from Mary 29, 1988 discusses extremely limited service, for example with no northbound trains on weekdays between 7:08am and 4:46pm. It also describes residents not knowing about the station and "The station is barely illuminated, and dozens of crack vials can be found on the platform." The main opposition the station's closing are politicians who see the station as a way to help neighborhood revival. Reviewing a Harlem Line timetable archive it appears Melrose never actually closed and train service operated uninterrupted.
In 2005 Metro-North embarked on a rebuilding 'day-lighting' project at the station. The focus of the project was primarily on installing better lighting and moving the northbound platform from out from under the Morrisania Air Rights to north of 162 Street. The platforms capacity was further reduced from accommodating four cars to only 2 that can open today. As of 2015 the station's renovations feel unfinished. Along the north side of 162 Street there are two entrance portals, these are modern silver structures with a Melrose name sign, one leads down to each side platform along the four-track line with a modern and empty bus shelter painted a brown color to match the color of the fencing along the street. Across the street in front of one of the Morrisania Air Rights buildings is an older black shelter containing the station's one Daily Tickets TVM, an information panel and a now removed (sometime after 2012) payphone. It is between the closed off former staircases down to the platforms. For some reason the TVM was never moved across the street to be under the more modern shelter by the new daylighted entrances. 162 Street isn't the busiest street but it seems silly to have to cross the street to buy a ticket.
The staircase to the modern and now offset northbound platform begins immediately after its entrance portal, it was built on a empty area alongside the tracks because of the lack of the normal stone retaining wall (probably due to the hilly topography) of the open cut the line is located in. The new platform has unique high (along with the sister station Tremont) lampposts with two lights on each post. The fence is a similar tan color to the overpass. There is a single bus stop-style shelter for waiting passengers. The former platform within the now covered former open-cut is clearly visible with a Melrose sign remaining on the stone-walls of the open-cut and a Track 4 sign also affixed.
The New York-bound platform couldn't be daylighted because the stone retaining wall is directly along the track north of the platform. Instead the staircase was. From 162 Street it's a short, exposed walk a level above to a landing where the covered staircase loops around and down to the end of this platform. The platform has received high intensity lights that hang from the walls of the open cut. An open grate where one of the former staircases was tries to let some daylight down. The platform is a bit of a mess with bridge plates stored in a haphazard way taking up a lot of its limited space. There is a bench and a few Melrose signs. The evidence of a former staircase to 161 Street, covered by a grate with the steps and handrail intact.
Train service to this day is still limited, it along with Tremont the only stop on a main line that isn't a special stop (for hikers or a cemetery) to have off-peak service not hourly or better after the 2013 service increases. Train service is only every two hours. This decreases ridership. From July 2013 until May 2014 all service to Melrose and Tremont was suspended because of a track reconstruction project that took between 1 and 2 tracks out of service between Melrose and Wakefield and replaced by dedicated shuttle buses. These shuttle buses to Fordham were dedicated to Metro-North riders using mainly use MTA express bus motor coaches. The stations low ridership must have made them extremely expensive on a per rider basis to operate. The Bx41-SBS runs just one block east of the Melrose station to directly in front of the Fordham Station and has just 6 intermediate stops.
Photos 1-10: 19 March, 2005; 11-27: 22 January, 2012; 28-51: 26 July, 2015