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86th Street is an island platform intermediate stop towards the southern end of the two tracked 4th Avenue subway, with provisions to add to more tracks if a proposed extension (via a tunnel) across the Narrows to Staten Island was ever realized. Today 86 Street provides an important transfer point for the S79SBS, and S53/93 LTD, the only local buses across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island. The S53/S93 bus route was the first MTA New York City Transit Bus route to have bike racks installed on September 6, 2015 (years after most US Bus Transit agencies made bike racks on buses standard), since the Verrazano Bridge doesn't have a pedestrian/bike path. The two bus routes over the Whitestone Bridge got bike racks as well in 2018, but no other NYC Bus routes have received them yet and the MTA doesn't plan any city-wide rollout of them (you can take bikes on the subway at all times and with NYC's slow bus speeds, biking is generally faster than the bus).

These important bus connections meant that the MTA modified it's 1990 100 Key Accessible Stations plan that originally included making the 95 Street Station wheelchair accessible, but the additional connectivity such as to the Staten Island buses had 86 Street replace 95 Street to become the Bay Ridge accessible station. Two elevators, making the station fully wheelchair accessible opened on July 28, 2020. The stop was also the terminus of the original service down the 4th Avenue for 9 years opening on January 15, 1916 until the one stop extension to 95 Street opened 9 years later in 1925.

When I visited in 2009, the track walls have absolutely no tiling on them and are just black, with an exception of tiny tiled section at their extreme northern ends. The platform walls were originally tiled but 1970 renovations that brought us the Cinderblock style at so many side platform stations removed all of the tiles that were claimed to be in poor condition. The platform (and mezzanines) has two sets of green painted columns running along it. Renovations completed in 2011 added replica tile panels along both track walls with little 86s in them, and painted the platform columns a dark blue color.

The station has two exits and mezzanine areas and pre-renovations each of these areas still has a mosaic trim line, unlike the platforms. The secondary exit is almost at the northern end of the platform, where a single staircase that leads up to a tiny mezzanine area with a couple of High Entrance/Exit Turnstiles that lead out to a single staircase up to the NE corner of 85 Street and 4 Avenue. The staffed exit is towards the southern end of the platform and has a mezzanine that feels extremely cramped compared to IND stations, but with a newsstand that so large that you can walk into it, that it seems perhaps classifiable it as a bodega within fare control. This bodega unfortunately closed in February 2017 to accommodate the construction of the platform elevator in this additional space on the mezzanine, today two staircases plus the new platform elevator lead up to this small fare control area, where turnstiles and the token booth lead up to streetstairs up to the SE and SW corners of 86 Street & 4 Avenue. The new street elevator leads up to the SW corner, next to the streetstair (taking up a parking space).
Photos 1-20: June 9, 2009

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Last Updated: February 6, 2022
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