Archer Avenue lines

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BMT/IND Archer Avenue Lines
"E" train "J" train "Z" train
The B1 Archer Avenue Line is served by the J, and Z. The B2 Archer Avenue Line is served by the E.
TypeRapid transit
SystemNew York City Subway
TerminiParsons/Archer (north)
west of Jamaica–Van Wyck (south, upper level)
south of Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport (south, lower level)
OpenedDecember 11, 1988
OwnerCity of New York
Operator(s)New York City Transit Authority
Number of tracks2-4
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification600V DC third rail
Route map

Provision for future extension
to southeast Queens
Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer
Sutphin Boulevard–
Archer Avenue–JFK
Jamaica–Van Wyck
BMT Powerhouse, 144th Pl & Jamaica Av

The Archer Avenue Lines are two rapid transit lines of the New York City Subway, mostly running under Archer Avenue in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens. Conceived as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 1968 expansion plans, they opened on December 11, 1988.[1][2]

The two lines are built on separate levels, served by trains from the IND Queens Boulevard Line (E train) on the upper level, and the BMT Jamaica Line (J and ​Z trains) on the lower. Since the two levels share no track connections and have different chainings and radio frequencies, they are two separate lines—the B2 (IND) Division Archer Avenue Line (upper level) and the B1 (BMT) Division Archer Avenue Line (lower level).

Extent and service[edit]

The following services use the Archer Avenue Lines:[3]

Lines served Section of line
"E" train IND Eighth Avenue Local and Queens Boulevard Express upper level, north of junction with the IND Queens Boulevard Line
"J" train "Z" train BMT Nassau Street and Jamaica Local/Express lower level, north of 121st Street (at 129th Street) on the BMT Jamaica Line

The two Archer Avenue Lines begin at a northern (geographic eastern) terminal, Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer (E​, ​J, and ​Z trains), as a bi-level subway, each level having two tracks.[4] The two lines run compass west along Archer Avenue to another station at Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport, where connections can be made to the Long Island Rail Road and AirTrain JFK.[5] West of this station, the two levels diverge. The lower level tracks (J and ​Z trains) continue roughly compass northwest, emerging from a portal near 89th Road and 130th Street and paralleling the Main Line of the LIRR before turning west onto the elevated structure of the BMT Jamaica Line at about 127th Street.[4][5] The upper level tracks (E train) turn compass north under the Van Wyck Expressway, with another station at Jamaica Avenue.[4][5] Just north of Hillside Avenue, they meet the four tracks of the IND Queens Boulevard Line at a flying junction, with connections to both the local and express tracks.[4][5][6]

Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer was not intended to be the lines' northern terminal, as there are spurs on both levels for possible future extensions. On the lower level, they continue one train length and end at bumper blocks. This was a planned extension toward 190th Street–Hollis Avenue.[4][7] Where the lower level tracks end, there is a provision for a diamond crossover switch at the end of the tunnel (under 160th Street). On the upper level, the tracks curve south to run under 160th Street and stop at about South Road, also ending at bumper blocks.[8][4][9][10][7] The plan was for this line to use the LIRR Atlantic Branch ROW and run to Springfield Boulevard or Rosedale. Where the upper level tracks stub end, there is a provision for a portal to go outside if the line going to Southeastern Queens is ever built.[4][9][7] The tail tracks on both levels are currently used for storage.[6][7]



What is now the Archer Avenue subway was originally conceived as an extension of the IND Queens Boulevard Line under the IND Second System in the 1920s and 1930s. The original plans had a line diverging south of Van Wyck Boulevard station (now called Briarwood), running down what is now the Van Wyck Expressway to Rockaway Boulevard near modern John F. Kennedy International Airport. A bellmouth with two additional trackways was built into the station to facilitate this extension, which was never constructed due to lack of funding.[6]

The current Archer Avenue plans emerged in the 1960s under the city and MTA's Program for Action. It was conceived as an expansion of Queens Boulevard service to a "Southeast Queens" line along the right-of-way of the Long Island Rail Road Atlantic Branch towards Locust Manor, and as a replacement for the dilapidated eastern portions of the Jamaica Avenue elevated within the Jamaica business district which business owners and residents sought removal of; both would meet at the double-decked line under Archer Avenue. The two-track spur from the Queens Boulevard Line would use the original Van Wyck Boulevard bellmouths.[4][6][7][11][12][13] The lines and the Jamaica El removal were part of urban renewal efforts in the Downtown Jamaica area. This included the construction of the York College campus, which was planned to be built in conjunction with the LIRR Atlantic Branch connection.[7][13][14]

The original plan for the upper level (now the E train) was for it to continue as a two-track line along the LIRR Atlantic Branch. It would have run through Locust Manor and Laurelton stations, with stops at Sutphin Boulevard, Parsons Boulevard (which was called Standard Place in planning documents), Linden Boulevard, Baisley Boulevard, and Springfield Boulevard.[15] The line would have served a large-scale housing development at Rochdale Village; such a line would have required conversion involving modifying existing platforms at Locust Manor and Laurelton to accommodate the IND loading gauge, as well as constructing new stations to serve Southeast Queens. It would have also run parallel to the eastern Montauk Branch, which already provided parallel service through St. Albans to Jamaica. The lower level (now the J and ​Z trains) would have been extended eastward toward 190th Street–Hollis Avenue (near the Hollis LIRR station). Due to a lack of funding as well as some political opposition, these plans were never implemented.[4][6][11]

Construction and opening[edit]

Construction on the Archer Avenue subway began on October 23, 1973 at 159th Street and Beaver Road, just south of Archer Avenue, paving the way for the southeast Queens subway line and the demolition of the Jamaica Avenue Elevated from 129th Street to the 168th Street terminal. It was then expected that the subway would be complete by 1980 or 1981;[4] the Jamaica elevated between Queens Boulevard and 168th Street was closed in September 1977.[12] The first tunnel between the Jamaica Avenue Elevated and the Archer Avenue subway was holed through in October 1977. The second tunnel connection holing through of the Archer Avenue subway tunnels occurred in December 1977. In October 1979, groundbreaking for a 1,300 feet (396 m) cut-and-cover section of the Archer Avenue line occurred, which would connect the line with the IND Queens Boulevard Line. This section also included the Jamaica–Van Wyck station. Most of the project was constructed via cut-and-cover methods, with portions of the lines excavated with tunneling shield methods.[7]

In October 1980, the MTA considered stopping work on the line, due to its budget crisis and the bad state of the existing subway system. Originally set to be opened in 1980, the line kept getting delayed, and by the late 1970s, the opening was delayed to 1983, then to 1985 or 1986.[16] In 1981, due to lack of money, all bidding on new subway and bus projects for the MTA was suspended, except for the already-built portions of the 63rd Street and Archer Avenue lines, which were allowed to continue.[17] Progress of the Archer Avenue Line temporarily stopped in March 1982, when on March 5, part of the tunnel caved in around the vicinity of Archer Avenue and 138th Street, where one construction worker was killed, and three others narrowly escaped injury.[18]

Despite the delays, disagreements over the condition of the line and the speed of construction, and the federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration's reluctance to provide funding to complete the line due to concerns over the quality of concrete and the leakage of water into the tunnels, construction was completed a year ahead of schedule, in 1983.[19] Due to the New York City fiscal crisis in 1975, the subway line was truncated to Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer.[2] The line opened on December 11, 1988, at a cost of nearly five times its original budgeted cost and severely cut back to a length of 2 miles (3 km). It consisted of the first stations added to the subway system since the 57th Street station opened in 1968, and the first stations in Queens since the IND Rockaway Line in 1956.[2][20][21]

In the original service plan, the G and N local trains were to serve the Archer Avenue upper level,[22][23] while the E and F express trains would have remained on the Queens Boulevard mainline towards 179th Street. (The N ran on the IND Queens Boulevard Line until 1987, when the N and R swapped northern terminals in Queens.[24]) The N train was to run between Jamaica Center and Coney Island during weekdays while G trains were to terminate at 71st Avenue. During weekends the train was to run between Jamaica Center and Smith–Ninth Streets, while N trains would terminate at 57th Street–Seventh Avenue or 71st Avenue. During late nights there was supposed to be a G train shuttle between Jamaica Center and Van Wyck Boulevard.[25] When the Archer Avenue Line opened in 1988, a simpler service plan was put into effect. The E was extended to Jamaica Center and the F ran to 179th Street, and all Queens Boulevard local service terminated at 71st Avenue.[2]

Station listing[edit]

Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Stops rush hours in peak direction only Stops rush hours in the peak direction only
Time period details
Handicapped/disabled access Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
Handicapped/disabled access ↑ Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
in the indicated direction only
Handicapped/disabled access ↓
Aiga elevator.svg Elevator access to mezzanine only
Handicapped/disabled access Station Tracks Services Opened Transfers and notes
Jamaica Handicapped/disabled access Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer all E all times​ ​J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction December 11, 1988 Q44 Select Bus Service
Handicapped/disabled access Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport all E all times​ ​J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction December 11, 1988 Q44 Select Bus Service
Connection to LIRR at Jamaica Handicapped/disabled access
Connection to JFK Airport AirTrain JFK Handicapped/disabled access to JFK Int'l Airport
Merge into BMT Jamaica Line (lower level) (J all timesZ rush hours, peak direction)
Handicapped/disabled access Jamaica–Van Wyck upper level E all times December 11, 1988
Merge into IND Queens Boulevard Line (upper level) (E all times)


  1. ^ Johnson, Kirk (December 9, 1988). "Big Changes For Subways Are to Begin". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Johnson, Kirk (December 9, 1988). "Big Changes For Subways Are to Begin". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  3. ^ "Subway Service Guide" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. June 25, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Burks, Edward C. (October 24, 1973). "Work Begun on Queens Subway Extension" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Jamaica" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e Raskin, Joseph B. (2013). The Routes Not Taken: A Trip Through New York City's Unbuilt Subway System. Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-82325-369-2.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Archer Ave Route (proposed) Construction, Queens: Environmental Impact Statement. Urban Mass Transit Administration, United States Department of Transportation. August 1973. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  8. ^ Final Environmental Statement Archer Avenue Route. Urban Mass Transportation Administration
    U.S. Department of Transportation. March 1974 – via Hathitrust.
  9. ^ a b Burks, Edward C. (March 9, 1975). "Building Progresses On Subway In Jamaica" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  10. ^ Burks, Edward C. (September 24, 1976). "Coming: Light at End of 63d St. Tunnel" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  11. ^ a b—The 1968 MTA "Program for Action"
  12. ^ a b Dembart, Lee (September 9, 1977). "A Sentimental Journey on the BMT..." (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Full text of "Metropolitan transportation, a program for action. Report to Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York."". Internet Archive. November 7, 1967. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  14. ^ Clines, Francis X. (November 24, 1970). "City Board Approves York College Campus Plan". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2016. Designed in conjunction with a planned IND subway station for the area
  15. ^ "".
  16. ^ "Jamaica Subway Under Way" (PDF). The New York Times. July 8, 1973.
  17. ^ Cummings, Judith (1981-02-25). "SUBWAY MAINTENANCE CITED AS 'EMERGENCY'; BIDDING IS SUSPENDED". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  18. ^ "Dies in Cave-In: Sand Avalanche Buries Worker in Queens IND," New York Daily News, March 5, 1982, page 3.
  19. ^ Schmalz, Jeffrey (August 18, 1985). "U.S. HOLDS UP AID FOR SUBWAY WORK". The New York Times.
  20. ^ "New Subway Line Finally Rolling Through Queens," Newsday, December 11, 1988, page 7.
  21. ^ Anders, Marjorie; Associated Press (December 11, 1988). "Subways get biggest change since 1904" (PDF). Nyack Journal News. p. I1. Retrieved July 25, 2016 – via
  22. ^ "".
  23. ^ "".
  24. ^ "Shifts on N and R Lines Are Planned in Queens". The New York Times. October 16, 1986. p. B10. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  25. ^ "R46 Jamaica Image 14".[dead link]

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata