Unused express tracks on Brooklyn’s Culver Line offer a tantalizing glimpse of what could be in Brooklyn. (Track map courtesy of NYC Subway)
Ah, the F train, aptly named after the words coming out of its riders’ mouths in Brooklyn as another stuffed train pulls up to the 7th Ave. stop in Park Slope in the morning. Or maybe it is named after what people say as they wait and wait and wait for the train to show up at night.
The F line though hides a dirty little secret: The capabilities exist, track-wise, for express service through Brooklyn. Now, on the heels of my post yesterday about the G train, one Brooklyn resident (and blogger) has taken up the call to arms. Gary from Brooklyn Streets, Carroll Gardens has started a petition to call on the MTA to add express F train service in Brooklyn and extend the V train from 2nd Ave. in Manhattan to part (or all) of Brooklyn. (The petition, if that’s your thing, is here.)
Gary believes that if, as I do, the congestion fee will increase subway ridership, crowded lines such as the F will become even more packed with commuters. The MTA should therefore do all it can to alleviate the crush.
I can’t argue with that logic, and in fact, I know that some of you have repeatedly said they would also shoulder fare hikes if the money went to increased service in the system. I’m all on board for that plan, but I think the F express/V extension plan faces some hurdles.
Most notably is something that Gary himself reported on a few weeks ago: The Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation Project, set to begin next year and wrap up in 2012, will make express service impossible until completion.
The next problem is a physical one: The track switches that would enable express service out to Coney Island are no longer in place. NYCSubway.org notes: “In the early 1990s, the double crossover just south of Kings Highway enabling trains from Coney Island to switch to the express track was removed and now all F trains now run local on the Culver line.”
Furthermore, after Church Ave., the double express tracks on the Culver Line converge into a single express track similar to the way the 7 line snakes through Queens. Simply put, the MTA wouldn’t be able to run express trains in both directions past Church Ave. because the tracks don’t exist.
These problems don’t even touch upon the scheduling issues inherent in extending the V at least another 12 stops, the fact that more trains and employees are needed to run the V line into Brooklyn, and the detail that the express tracks in Manhattan end right after the 2nd Ave. stop. The V and F would have to share tracks from 2nd Ave. to Jay St./Borough Hall.
But if money and train scheduling were not an obstacle, I would put forth the following plan: Run the F as an express train from Jay St./Borough Hall to Church Ave. The F would stop at York St., Jay St., 7th Avenue and Church Ave. before running local to Coney Island. Meanwhile, extend the V to Church Ave. as the local. Church Ave. is the last four-track stop on the Culver Line and provides for a switch so that the V can turn around and head back to Manhattan.
With this plan, the stations with the highest number of riders would see staggered service. Carroll Gardens riders wouldn’t have to shove Park Slope residents into already-crammed trains in the morning. The V would become a more viable line in Manhattan, and everyone in Brooklyn would be happy.
We can dream, right?