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Queens Blvd Express·8th Avenue Local<42 St-Port Authority Bus Terminal

42 Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal IND 8th Avenue Line Station would be an extremely large and confusing station in itself even if the tunnel under 41 Street had never been built by the Port Authority in the 1960s. This allowed there to be first an underground transfer requiring another payment of a subway fare to the rest of the larger Time Square-42nd Street subway station, and then a free transfer was added when the turnstile locations on the mezzanine were reconfigured in December 1988 allowing for a free transfer. To begin, the station's two island platforms for the express stop on the four-track line are extremely wide, the platforms have I beams both along the tracks and in the center of each platform, so wide in fact that the platforms are almost completely offset from one another to allow the them to fit underneath 8th Avenue. At their juncture point in the middle, not surprisingly right where the exits to 42nd Street are, each visibly curves in and gets quite a bit narrower before ending. The downtown platform stretches from about 40th Street to 42nd Street, the uptown from 42nd Street to 44th Street. Each platform has a line of 3 sets of purple columns, and a purple trimline with black borders and white 42s inside of it and little 42s beneath.

This platform and associated tracks were taken out of service in 2003. A major portion of the platform has been surrounded by cinderblocks and closed off from the rest of the station in 2009 because it is the roof of the track bed for the new 7 Line Extensions where trains slope down at 3% downgrade for the deep bore tunnel built by a Tunnel Boring Machine that crosses 20 feet under the Lincoln Tunnel and 40 feet under the North River Tubes used by Amtrak-NJ Transit

Almost the entire station is connected by a wide mezzanine within fare control that also has some newsstands and other stores, including a clothing store and a record store along it. Starting at the Southern end of the 4 block long mezzanine, there are exits to all four corners of 40 Street & 8 Avenue, 3 are conventional streetstairs, the SW corner is inside a store front, through a short passageway, past an Adult Video Store (on privately maintained property, not on MTA property). Next is are turnstiles that lead to the Downtown Platform only with two staircases down to it. These staircases are marked "Exit Only" on the downtown platform. These are the only two staircases off any of the station's platform that don't connect to the rest of the mezzanine and passageway under 41 Street to the connections to other subway lines. Just beyond this fare control area is a passageway to the Port Authority Bus Terminal's South Wing.

Next there is a wide bank of turnstiles with a staffed token booth (and undercover cops questioning people getting buzzed in through the special service gate after paying and talking to the token clerk when taking my bicycle on the subway, a personal incident). The mezzanine, now entirely inside fare control, reaches an area beneath 41 Street. On the east side is the entrance to a relatively narrow pedestrian tunnel to the Times Square Station complex, across from this are public restrooms. There is no longer any exits to 41 Street although there was at least one to the SE corner when the station opened. This is also where the Art's for Transit exhibit is, Loosing my Marbles, on wall next to the passageway, and the walls across from it; the only art in the IND portion of the complex.

Continuing north down the mezzanine we reach another exit to the North Wing of the Port Authority Bus Terminal that has another large bank of turnstiles and a Customer Service Assistant Booth only (now unstaffed). Next we pass the ADA access to the downtown platform, a long and looping ramp that takes up the width of most of the island platform and only works at 42 Street-PABT because the stations platforms were built to be so wide.

Continuing down the mezzanine were are now beneath 42 Street. On the east side of the mezzanine is a small bank of turnstiles, a token booth, and the exit to 42 St & 8 Ave, NE corner (inside a storefront along 42 Street that incorrectly says 42 ST, the T should not be capitalized) along with a new exit inside a recently finished building at the SE corner this consists of two consecutive short staircases each with an escalator to one side (all are maintained by the buildings under agreements). At street level is an LED Subway sign with the letters of Subway flashing and a blue awning. The letters are not individually illuminated and organized to allow for easy changes when subway service does, this is an issue at some of the in building entrances at Times Square with lighted Subway marquees. Across from this are two high entrance/exit turnstiles that lead to an unstaffed exit to 42 St & 8 Ave, NW corner via a street stair. Continuing along the mezzanine there is the last staircase down to the downtown platform and the first staircase to the uptown platform. Both of these staircases are at the back of the train, so be in the back of the train if you are trying to transfer between Downtown A,C Trains and Uptown E Trains or vice-versa, a common occurrence for passengers traveling, for example, from Harlem to Jamaica.

Next we reach the ADA ramp down to the uptown platform, followed by another two high entrance/exit turnstiles out to a streetstair up to 43 St & 8 Av SW corner. The mezzanine continues north one more block, with ads on the walls, and reaching staircases down to the northern (front of trains) end of the uptown platform. The mezzanine ends at a bank of turnstiles and exits to 44 St & 8 Avenue. This exit leads out to the NE and SE corners via street stairs, and a new entrance inside a new building, the InterContinental Hotel Times Square. This consists of first a short flight of nine steps and a small external wheelchair lift, the only one so far in the entire subway system, (this is how it is signed Lift to elev.) before a small upper landing that leads to a staircase and conventional elevator outside to street level inside 306 West 44th St, with a modern small glass awning at the entrance that looks like those used at the new South Ferry Station. During the COVID-19 pandemic this entrance was closed from March until at least September 2020, even after the hotel had reopened.

The station also has an abandoned lower-level side platform that served an additional track beneath the downtown platform. This platform was accessed via a continuation of the E trains track from 50th Street, which rises up to the same level of the Upper Level tracks for connecting switches out to both of them, used in daily service by E trains, before the track dips down again to serve this lower-level platform. The evidence of this extra track dipping to a lower-level is clearly visible from the Uptown Platform. After the track passed the abandoned platform, it rose-up again and ended with additional switches to both the Express and Local Tracks. The platform was built with the rest of the station that opened on September 10, 1932 but the platform was left unfinished and didn’t open with the rest of the station.

The intention of this lower-level platform was claimed to allow an additional place for E trains from Queens to stop, potentially providing more efficient service (this was done at times during the PM rush hour in the 1970s) and was also probably designed and built by the IND out of spite to prevent the IRT from extending 7 trains further west (it ran up against the bumper-blocks of 7 train beyond the Times Square Station).

The platform was finally completed in 1959 and used primarily by extra-fare Racetrack Special trains that ran one stop (stopping at the now abandoned platforms at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets) to Aqueduct Racetrack on racing days only, these trains stopped operating in 1981, and the lower-level platform sat disused. This platform had an escalator up, directly to the mezzanine at its southern end, with 3 staircases at regular intervals (all but one has been slabbed over) to the downtown platform, a short underpass also led directly up to the southern end of the Uptown platform via two staircases towards its northern end. I remember one older subway rider saying that they used to use the platform as underpass to get a free transfer between Downtown and Uptown trains when the mezzanine was configured to be much more outside of fare control and I believe didn’t allow for free change of direction platforms.
Photo 1: December 31, 2003; 2-17: June 2, 2009; 18 & 19: July 24, 2009; 20: June 28, 2009; 21-26: June 24, 2011; 27: December 28, 2009; 28: December 31, 2009; 29: January 4, 2011; 30-47: May 20, 2010; 48-55: August 31, 2011; 56: June 8, 2011; 57-58: September 26, 2012; 59-65: October 31, 2012; 66 & 67: July 26, 2013; 68-70: May 8, 2016

Art For Transit at 
stanm

Arts For Transit at 42 St-Port Authority

Loosing My Marbles, 2003

Glass Mosaic

By Lisa Dinhofer

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Last Updated: January 1, 2022
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