NY MTA Chief Lhota: 'Yes' To Extending 7 Train Extension, 'No' To Free Ferry Transfers

Construction proceeds on the 7 subway train extension under the Far West Side of Manhattan. (NY MTA photo)

(New York, NY - WNYC) NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota told planners at a Midtown conference that the first project on his "wish list" is extending the Number 7 subway train down 11th Avenue to 23rd Street.

"It's something that I think would make sense because if you look at the demographics of the West Side, we shouldn't just make one stop," he told reporters after taking part in a workshop at the Regional Plan Association's annual assembly, which was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Lhota said, "It's important to have plans, to have a wish list." But he cautioned there was no active push to send the 7 train from Times Square past its planned terminus at W 34th Street. "I'm not sure it can be done," he said. "I'm not sure about how close you can get to the Hudson River."

The $2.1 billion extension is scheduled to be done by December 2013 at a cost of $2.1 billion. It's being built in conjunction with a massive development of the Hudson Yards immediately to the south.

NYC Mayor Michael  Bloomberg has also been thinking about boosting the capacity of New York's transportation system.

Appearing Friday as a guest on WOR Radio's John Gambling Show, he said "it'd be great" to offer free transfers to the city's private ferries with a Metrocard. "It's all one big thing in these days of technology," the mayor said. "You could use one card and then revenue could be divided up" between the ferry operators and the NY MTA.

Lhota liked the idea of allowing ferry passengers to pay by Metrocard, noting that several non-NY MTA transit operators in the region already do that, from the PATH Train to New Jersey and a newly privatized bus system on Long Island. But he wasn't keen on the idea of making the transfer free and sharing fares. "The NY MTA is in no position to share its revenue with the ferries," he said.

The NY MTA is perennially cash-strapped and only recently received funding from the state for the last three years of a five-year capital plan.