Home Brooklyn Brooklyn service would give meaning to neglected V train

Brooklyn service would give meaning to neglected V train

by Benjamin Kabak

For the last few weeks, Brooklyn residents have been pushing hard for express service on the F tracks in the city’s most populous borough. Thanks to the efforts of Gary Reilly, the MTA board has expressed support for the plan, and last week’s press conference was a resounding success.

Part of the plan calls for redeeming the V line. For now, the V train, running for just 17 hours Monday-Friday, is a lonely train. Running local from Forest Hills, the train terminates at the Second Ave. station as the F travels onward to Coney Island. As an added benefit to V train riders, since this train doesn’t go anywhere in Queens or Manhattan that other trains don’t, it allows for either a neglected ride or a spacious ride, depending upon your viewpoint.

Earlier this week, the Daily News noted that, in an age in which NYC pols are decrying over-crowded trains, the empty V trains provide welcome relief to straphangers looking for some space. In a 300-word article that three reporters wrote (!), the News noted:

It’s the V train, an unloved but uncrowded route launched in 2001 that is only half full even at rush hour – making it the least crowded of the subway’s 22 lines, NYC Transit statistics show…”You’re not like a sardine,” said Tom Nguyen, 34, who noted he almost always gets to sit back and relax on the V. “Of all the Queens lines, I think the V is the best.”

Not everyone agrees. Critics predicted no one would ride the local V when it was created in December 2001 to relieve overcrowding on the express E and F trains along Queens Blvd. Transit officials tried hard to popularize the route; it didn’t work. “I think it’s worthless,” commuter Victoria Carlucci said. “The stops are not helpful stops.”

So for every rider like Nguyen, there are others who cannot stand the V line. It, for some unknown reason, symbolizes the problems with the MTA: It’s a rush hour-only line that charts familiar territory. Who needs another one of those, right? In fact, over on the subway message board Subchat, invective against the V train exploded when this article hit the Internet on Monday.

And that is where our F train petition comes into play. With the F train petition, the F would run express during the times the V runs from Jay St./Borough Hall out to Church Ave. (or possibly Kings Highway). The V would no longer be a lonely train; instead, it would ferry thousands of commuters through Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Kensington and Borough Park. While those riding in Queens would probably still enjoy their empty and spacious train cars, people riding in Brooklyn would finally have more room than they do on the F with its cattle-car-like conditions.

So once again, we all can see how our F express plan would help make use of an under-utilized subway line in New York City. It’s time to make this plan reality.

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18 comments

Marc Shepherd July 5, 2007 - 8:01 am

I’ve pointed this out before, but the V should be the Brooklyn express, not the F.

Today, the F has a laudable trait that more subway lines should have: its service pattern never changes. For 24 hours, 7 days a week, the F operates from 179th Street in Queens to Coney Island in Brooklyn, express in Queens, local in Manhattan in Brooklyn. When you get on an F, there’s never any doubt where you’re going.

Since no one has argued that the Culver Line needs 24×7 express service, the obvious solution is to extend the V as an express. That avoids the potential confusion of getting on an F train that you think is going to be express, but turns out to be local; or getting on an F that you think is going to be local, but turns out to be express.

Subway lines that “change their stripes” are much more confusing to the riding public. The model for the Culver Line should follow the model of the Brighton Line, where the local is the train that runs 24/7 (the Q), and the express is the train that runs express during the day (the B).

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Gary July 5, 2007 - 9:47 am

Marc, we can dicker over the details, the important thing is to press those express tracks back into service.

Thanks for the heads-up, Ben. Also, I didn’t know that subchat existed . . . I learn a lot from your site!

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Benjamin Kabak July 5, 2007 - 9:51 am

Marc: Subway lines changing their stripes happen all the time. Take a look at the Q/B/D from just a few years ago or skip-stop patterns on the now-defunct 9 line. What you’re doing is arguing over semantics. It doesn’t matter if the express train in Brooklyn is called the V, the F, the diamond F or the Blue-with-Yellow-Polka-Dots train. What matters is that we get the express service.

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DFHL July 5, 2007 - 10:52 am

Are you kidding? the F train changes all the time! every weekend there are some changes where you don’t know if it’s going express or stops at 4th ave, etc. I live near church ave and it’s a pain in the butt to try to predict where the F will stop this weekend!

the F train already runs express everyday during rush hour from west 4th to delancey and then to jay st. and from 7th ave to church ave.

On weekends it usually runs express from 7th ave to church and vice versa.

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Benjamin Kabak July 5, 2007 - 11:00 am

the F train already runs express everyday during rush hour from west 4th to delancey and then to jay st. and from 7th ave to church ave.

I’ve taken the F train during rush hour. It never runs express. That’s why we’re promoting this idea.

As for your observation about the weekends, that’s due largely to track work. It’s not a planned express diversion.

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Victoria Jeter July 5, 2007 - 11:51 am

I like the idea of the Blue-with-Yellow-Polka-Dots train, Ben, I think you should pitch that one.

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DFHL July 5, 2007 - 2:13 pm

I’ve taken the F train during rush hour. It never runs express. That’s why we’re promoting this idea.

As for your observation about the weekends, that’s due largely to track work. It’s not a planned express diversion.

I take the F train every day to and from work in midtown. I transfer from F to the A at west 4th st. Many times comes home from work the trains are really packed and the conductor will announce that the train will be going express. This happens fairly frequently if you take the train between 5 and 7 pm.

Obviously it would be a lot better that there would be an express running all the time, but the F train DOES run express occasionally.

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Benjamin Kabak July 5, 2007 - 2:15 pm

Ok, so that’s a schedule adjustment express run. Gotcha. My mistake.

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Irish July 5, 2007 - 3:45 pm

Hahaha I laugh at Jew when she gets on the E train at Court Square and has to fight to smush in while I wait patiently for the V where I know there is a seat always waiting for me… I heart the V train!!

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KidTwist July 5, 2007 - 6:23 pm

This may seem like a good idea on paper, but remember, the F and the V will end up on the same track at Jay Street. Which means that at least some of the time, your express train (F, V, polka-dot, whichever) is going to end up sitting between Bergen and Jay, waiting for a local to clear out ahead of it. That will eat up good chunk of the whatever time the express is supposed to save.

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Gary July 5, 2007 - 7:18 pm

Kidtwist, I’ve been riding the F train for 4 years now, and I believe there is plenty of room between F trains for V’s. Doesn’t seem to be a problem in Manhattan, does it?

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eric the beehivehairdresser July 6, 2007 - 10:45 am

I take the V every morning at rush hour, and 9 out of 10 times it is jam packed until 53rd and Lex. Other than that, it is a waste of space and a line, but personally nicer to get to work than the E.

The F would most likely have to be changed to be an express in Brooklyn simply due to it being the express service in Queens. Remember when they reopened the 6th Avenue lines across the Manhattan Bridge; they changed the B to the D and the D to the B, thereby allowing the D to be the express on both ends, and the B to be local at both ends.

They did this to so that express trains didn’t suddenly become local trains, which made people have to get off and wait for another express train – completely negating any and all express service from a time prospective.

Personally I think the addition of the F being an express would push more V trains into service, which is needed since the current wait for a V train is anywhere between 2 and 4 F trains to one V on average.

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On a complete off shoot that has nothing to do with the Culver line express restoration – I’m not sure if this was already discussed by you Ben, but might you know if the city looking into how it can fit more people (given breathing room) onto the existing train tracks all over the city during rush hours?

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KidTwist July 6, 2007 - 12:27 pm

Gary, I can think of any number of places where one train regularly gets held up for a merging train–Prospect Park on the Brighton Line, Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, Canal Street-Holland Tunnel, Columbus Circle on the IND . . .
Even if the delay is only a minute or two, there goes much of what you save by taking the express. In theory, it should be possible to slip in extra trains, but in reality, the transit authority is lousy at anything but running trains in a straight line.

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dorothyberman July 6, 2007 - 1:05 pm

An Express F would be a big help to those of us near Coney Island. Also, if F train riders were a bit more considerate- men taking up two seats and large backpacks.

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dorothyberman July 6, 2007 - 1:06 pm

An Express F would be a big help to those of us near Coney Island. Also, if F train riders were a bit more considerate- men taking up two seats and large backpacks. Help for us.

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ABG July 7, 2007 - 9:56 am

KidTwist, the main value of peak express service is using that track to run more trains, so that more people can ride. If the riders save time it’s a bonus.

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Frank July 25, 2009 - 11:10 pm

V train is useless

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