New York City Transit is improving amenities at stations along the 1 train line with a pair of new staircases slated for installation at the West 238th Street station by summer.
Work to replace the station’s aging steps began earlier this month, with the plan to replace one staircase at a time. Work will start with steps at the northeast corner of West 238th and Broadway.
But the steps themselves won’t be the only things replaced. They’ll be joined by new handrails, guardrails and canopies — enhancements expected to keep the station’s northeast stairs shuttered for the next three months.
Transit also will install a turnstile, enabling riders to board northbound 1 trains at West 238th, which also serves as a connection to the Bx3 bus, and has experienced a 7 percent surge in daily ridership in recent years.
Right now, riders can’t board the 1 train through the station’s two northbound staircases, forcing northbound straphangers to walk or take the Bx9 bus, to the 1 line’s terminus at the West 242nd Street station.
Once work on the first staircase is wrapped, the transit agency plans to replace the station’s southeast steps, which is expected to take an additional three months.
While both sets of stairs lead up to the elevated station’s northbound platform, riders shouldn’t expect to have their commutes impacted, according to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.
“Representatives from New York City Transit have assured me that the 238th Street northbound 1 train platform will be open and usable for the … duration of the staircase replacements,” Dinowitz said.
The repairs at West 238th aren’t the first for stations serving the 1 train. In 2016, the West 242nd Street station underwent similar renovations to its respective stairways and canopies.
Just as in that instance, there are still no plans to install any elevators at West 238th. In fact, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reportedly has no plans to bring elevators to stations beyond the 100 “key stations” identified under a 1994 settlement exempting the state transit agency from full compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Among those 100 stations is the West 231st Street station, which was retrofit with elevators in 2003.
All told, the improvements to West 238th’s staircases are expected to cost the MTA just under $1.7 million, funded through the agency’s Small Business Development Program.
Beyond replacing these first two staircases, Transit eventually plans to also replace the station’s southwest staircase. But, according to Dinowitz, “there are no plans to do so for at least the next three to six months.”
However, any plans conceived in the future to do just that would be complicated by the West 238th station’s asymmetrical layout, which offers just one flight of steps leading up to the station’s Manhattan-bound track.
Without any means for riders to cross platforms, closing that staircase for repairs could effectively render the station off-limits to straphangers heading south — leaving them to choose between neighboring stations.
Yonkers resident Joseph Harris, who parks his car near the station before commuting downtown via the 1 train, said the stairs need to be replaced.
”They’re getting rusty, and they’re uneven,” he said.
Even if the station is forced to close to southbound trains, Harris believes riders would simply adjust accordingly.
“These are usual occurrences when they’re working on the track,” Harris said. “So, if they start working on (the southwest staircase), people are going to get used to the idea they have to go up (to 242nd) and come back.”