Why are the Second Avenue Subway’s newsstands still empty?

Posted On Wed, October 11, 2017 By

Posted On Wed, October 11, 2017 By In Transportation

TodWhen the city first got a look inside the new Second Avenue Subway stations ahead of the line’s New Year’s Day 2017 opening, one of the shiniest, most colorful elements was the collection of newsstands. Ten months later, however, the kiosks still sit empty, decked out in the signature marketing of rainbow polka dots. According to the New York Times, the MTA says it’s selected an operator for the newsstands, and though they won’t reveal who, claim that they’ll open soon. But is the fact that Q train riders seem overwhelmingly unaware and unaffected by the lack of newsstands a sign that they’re not actually wanted or needed in a time when newspapers and magazines have been replaced by tablets and iPhones and candy and sodas with organic oatmeal and Juice Press?

Though the Transportation Authority doesn’t keep exact records of newsstand numbers, those in subway stations decreased a bit between 2010 and 2015. Today they lease out 111, 20 of which are vacant. Interestingly, though, these kiosks’ revenue has jumped to $86 million last year from $61 million in 2010.

One reason for the uptick may be that the MTA realizes these spaces need “to be relevant and useful to riders today.” For example, in 2015 a start-up called the New Stand, which functions as a sort of curated bodega, signed a 10-year contract with the MTA to operate newsstands in Union Square, Columbus Circle, Brookfield Place, and the ferry system. While they still sell snacks, they also offer items such as collapsible bike helmets, all-natural condoms, fresh-squeezed juice, and designer sunglasses.

Four newsstands were built for the new Second Avenue Subway–one at each of the four stations. But the MTA says the one at the expanded 63rd Street station will be used for other purposes, declining to share any specifics other than that the newsstands will eventually sell both traditional and more trendy offerings.

Of the delay opening, MTA Spokesman Kevin Ortiz said: “We opened the city’s first new subway line in generations knowing that some punch list items would have to be completed after the opening.” And while newsstands are fairly insignificant in the scheme of things, other factors such as safety also fall under this statement. As 6sqft reported last month, when the train opened on January 1st, the fire alarm system had not finished testing and inspections found more than 17,000 defects. And as of August, the train was still operating under a temporary safety certificate.

[Via NYT]


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