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MTA Reviewing Proposed Upper West Side Delivery Worker Hub Amid Ongoing Pushback

The MTA has yet to give the go-ahead to a proposed Upper West Side delivery worker rest stop as some locals continue to fight the proposal.

Ken Coughlin|

A 2017 art installation at the Upper West Side site where the city is proposing an opposed delivery hub.

The MTA has yet to give the go-ahead for a controversial battery charging station and rest stop for delivery workers on the Upper West Side as some locals continue to fight the proposal, Streetsblog has learned.

“The MTA is reviewing whether the site proposal for the delivery hub would have any impacts to MTA service, including passenger flow and the loading and offloading of passengers,” MTA spokesperson Joana Flores said Monday.

Announced in October 2022 by Sen. Chuck Schumer and Mayor Adams, the delivery hub proposal aimed to transform defunct newsstands like the one outside the subway at W. 72nd Street and Broadway into rest stops for app workers in search of a safe way to recharge themselves and their battery-powered devices.

Under the proposals, newsstands would be equipped with bike parking, seating and charging infrastructure. Officials so far proposed just two locations for the concept — at 72nd Street and outside City Hall; both have yet to become reality despite over $1 million in federal funding.

Opponents on the Upper West Side have sought to tie the proposed hub in their neighborhood to the negativity many of their neighbors feel towards delivery workers.

“I could not believe the number (sic) of lawless activity. Every single kind of bike, e-bike, you name it,” Katina Ellison, of the West 71st Street Block Association, said during a Community Board 7 meeting last week on the proposed Upper West Side location. “People will definitely be hurt, people will be killed.”

Yet despite the stubborn opposition — including from CB 7 itself voting down the proposal — the Parks Department had said it planned to moved ahead with the plan anyway, though without any specific timeline for implementation.

But CB 7 member Andrew Albert — who also serves on the MTA board in a non-voting capacity — told members of the civil panel last week that he'd recently expressed concerns to the authority about "the possible obstruction of passengers coming from the M5, the M7, M11 and the M104 bus to get on the subway."

Albert added that he supports the concept of a charging station, but feels it would be better suited elsewhere in the neighborhood, like just south of 71st Street.

Reached for comment on Tuesday, CB 7 member Ken Coughlin called out the hypocrisy of a neighborhood whose residents not only place thousands of food delivery orders every single day, but also welcomed, and even appreciated, the large-scale art installations that for years drew onlookers and passersby to the exact same location.

“Apparently, it’s OK to have people milling around admiring a huge sculpture, but we can’t have immigrant workers standing around taking a break and recharging,” said Coughlin. “It’s a space big enough for 25-foot pieces of art, which nobody ever complained about.”

Local Council Member Gale Brewer, meanwhile, believes the location is ill-advised, but said she would welcome infrastructure that’s smaller and less invasive, like the vending machine-like charging technology known as Popwheels.

“I think we should do something ... much more innovative,” said Brewer.

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