It's one down and two to go on a $72 million project to give a new look to three dingy Brooklyn subway stations. But some of the fixtures at the first station to reopen have some straphangers a touch confused. Jose Martinez has that story.
It's been nearly a month since the 53rd Street station in Brooklyn reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation.
And yet, many riders at the R train stop are still baffled as to what these new fixtures are.
"What purpose I do not know! What is the purpose of this thing?" one rider asked.
"I assume that this is for a person to hold on or probably for the kids to hold on," said another befuddled passenger.
The MTA calls them "leaning bars."
And while they are common in some other subway systems — this is their first appearance in the city, where they are drawing mixed reviews.
"I thought they were just for, like, looks and everything," said one rider. "I didn't really think they were for leaning."
"I prefer to lean someplace else," said another.
The MTA says it decided to install the leaning bars after reviewing the "best practices of other transit systems."
The bars are supposed to give riders an option other than standing, sitting, and leaning on walls or columns.
And, no, the MTA says this is not a plot to drive the homeless away by removing places for them to sit or sleep, the agency says it is not using them to replace traditional bench seating.
Here at 53rd Street, there are sleek new benches for riders to grab a seat while waiting for trains
This rider is taking a stand, on the leaning bars.
"To me, they strike me as like a place to relax," he said. "Because usually, when you're on a wall, you're not balanced. So with this, I feel kind of more balanced because I use my book bag as a comfort"
The 53rd Street stop was the first of 30 stations to be overhauled as part of the MTA's so-called "Enhanced Station Initiative."
This isn't the last that you're going to see of the leaning benches. They're going to be at the Bay Ridge Avenue station when it reopens next week. And later at the Prospect Avenue station, also on the R line in Brooklyn.
It's not yet clear if the leaning bars will expand beyond Brooklyn. But the MTA says it has no plans to bench the idea.