The elevators – two of which are hard to find – take about 20 seconds to travel from the street to the concourse level of the new terminal. A walk from the street to the gleaming platforms under Grand Central Terminal takes more than seven minutes.
“Once you find it, it’s easy, like anything else in life,” said Richard Arkwright, who drove into the terminal from Manhasset and took the elevator from the station up to East 48th Street. “Now I have to find out what street I’m on.”
The new service and terminal cost the MTA more than $11 billion, but some of the elevators look low budget.
One of them sits under scaffolding, embedded in a stained, shabby wall on East 44th Street between Madison and Vanderbilt Avenues. It’s easy to miss a sign above the door indicating that the elevator is a quick ride to the terminal.
Another small elevator on East 47th Street is tucked outside a construction site where crews are erecting the new JPMorgan Chase headquarters. The third, located on East 48th Street, is easier to find thanks to a shiny glass frame and clear signage.
Each elevator descends 50 feet from the sidewalks of Midtown. The walking tour requires riders to enter the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal, down a set of escalators in the dining room and through a long corridor.
The elevators do not get riders from the street all the way to the platforms. For that, commuters can use a second set of elevators that drop another 90 feet from the lobby to the mezzanine above the tracks.
That trip takes about 15 seconds — faster than one of several 182-foot-long escalators.
The three elevators are key to making Grand Central Madison compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Riders in wheelchairs or pushing strollers can still access the station if one breaks down.
But be warned: There are other elevators into the bowels of the old Grand Central Terminal.
It took Jessica Cruz, 46, more than 20 minutes to get out of the station Wednesday morning after she got into the wrong elevator on Grand Central Madison’s concourse below 45th Street. She wanted to walk on the street, but ended up in a little-used area of the old Grand Central Terminal called the 45th Street Cross Passage. It was once built under the Metro-North tracks, but over the new LIRR tracks.
“I’m kind of upset right now because I just want to go out and I can’t,” said Jessica Cruz, who commuted to Grand Central Madison from Malverne for the first time Wednesday. “I figured my office wasn’t on Sixth and 46th, so this will be faster.”