Station desolation: Queens has NYC’s least-used subway stops

The A train arrives at Broad Channel, one of the least-used stations in the city.  Eagle  file photo by Jonathan Sperling.

The A train arrives at Broad Channel, one of the least-used stations in the city. Eagle file photo by Jonathan Sperling.

By Jonathan Sperling

It’s hard to imagine a quiet subway station in a borough of approximately 2.3 million.

But far away from the hustle and bustle of 74th Street-Broadway in Jackson Heights and Flushing-Main Street — which average more than 50,000 commuters a day — exist stations just like that, where it’s not uncommon for less than 300 straphangers to swipe their MetroCard on an average weekday.

Tired of waiting for someone to exit the turnstiles before you can swipe (or tap) through? Fed-up with long lines for MetroCard vending machines? Using the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s own 2017 ridership data, the Eagle has compiled a list of the top-three most-underused subway stations in Queens — which are also three of the least-used stations in the entire city.

Beach 105th Street, Rockaway Beach

Just 278 people use this elevated station, located along Rockaway Freeway, on a typical weekday, despite its proximity to Queens’ most popular beach. That’s less than a couple cars during morning rush-hour at Court Square. To be fair, the station is located right across from the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant, which doesn’t produce the best-smelling scent in the summer. Plus, it’s not easy to get to — riders must take the Rockaway Park Shuttle from Broad Channel, or one of a few rush-hour-only A trains to Rockaway Park. Beach 105th Street has even had a decades-long history of low ridership, with just 262 riders passing through its turnstiles on an average weekday in 1985.

Broad Channel

A whopping 302 daily riders swipe through this station, nestled along Jamaica Bay within its thin, namesake neighborhood. The A stops here at all times, and the station serves as the first (or last) stop on the Rockaway Park Shuttle, which is the only way for Rockaway Park riders to get to Brooklyn or Manhattan outside of rush hour. Looking for the longest distance between local subway stops? You’ve found it. The A train travels 3.5 miles between Broad Channel and the next Brooklyn-bound station, Howard Beach. Broad Channel is also the easiest way to get to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge by subway, one of the most important habitats for birds, plants and other organisms in Queens.

Beach 98th Street, Rockaway Beach

Only 531 riders made their way through Beach 98th Street on an average weekday in 2017, about the same amount as in 1985. For reference, that’s just under 1 percent of the amount of daily riders at Flushing-Main Street. Signage at the station refers to it as Beach 98th Street–Playland, a throwback to when Rockaways' Playland amusement park operated nearby. That shuttered in the 1980s, but the station is still a quick walk to another place of amusement in the borough: Rockaway Beach.