East Side Access Raises Pedestrian Footfall
East Side Access will bring eight new Long Island Rail Road trains tracks to Grand Central Terminal by December 2022, raising the number of passenger trips per day to 162,000. Currently, Metro-North Trains deliver 69,700 passengers to Grand Central per hour during peak hours (Fig. 1). East Side Access is being constructed directly below Grand Central as an extension of the terminal. In the diagram, the darker the shade of blue, the deeper underground those passageways are. The following analysis visualizes the jump in pedestrian traffic from the construction of new entries and passageways planned for East Side Access.
Upon completion, daily commutes to Grand Central will be cut short by 30 to 40 minutes, according to MTA, but the new rails will also raise pedestrian traffic by 193%, bringing in an additional 65,000 passengers and raising the average number of pedestrians in the station to 134,700 per hour during peak hours and 7,600 per hour on average (Fig. 2).
Multi-level Connection Disperses Pedestrian Traffic
To integrate the total underground network of two upper platforms (Grand Central as it is), two lower platforms (East Side Access), and a mezzanine, platforms will be interconnected by four 180-feet escalators (akin to those at the new Hudson Yards station linked to the 7 train): three will be operational, the fourth a backup. Additionally, four staircase entrances linking the mezzanine to the platforms will be installed. These multi-level connections would diffuse traffic density and improve circulation (Fig. 3).
One Vanderbilt Upzoning Improves Net Circulation for City
Upzoning Vanderbilt Corridor (Fig. 4) made possible the development of One Vanderbilt, which will further disperse traffic density (Fig. 5). The new skyscraper will include a multi-level, hybrid space linking the labyrinthine below grade to the street level.
Under current conditions, additional passengers from East Side Access would worsen street level traffic around One Vanderbilt by 3.6%. With One Vanderbilt and the Vanderbilt Avenue extension, increased traffic from East Side Access will be absorbed by those new developments, which will, in fact, improve pedestrian walkability by a net 2.9% (Fig. 6).
The development of One Vanderbilt and the extension of Vanderbilt Avenue alone would improve nearby pedestrian levels by 22.5%. If East Side Access is introduced without allowing for the Vanderbilt Avenue extension, the new train routes will diminish pedestrian walkability by 0.7%.
The development of One Vanderbilt will nearly even out increased traffic from East Side Access and benefit the neighborhood, testaments to rezoning in favor of more developments.