Home Brooklyn Wrong time, right idea for G train activists

Wrong time, right idea for G train activists

by Benjamin Kabak

The G train activists are so sincere. They have a website and blog devoted to their cause, and they’re working really hard to push the G train connection to Atlantic Ave. The only problem is that their efforts are coming at what is probably the worst time for rider activism in the city.

Yesterday, one day after the MTA learned it wouldn’t have congestion pricing revenues for their coffers, G train activists took their case before the sympathetic City Council. Good ol’ John Liu and the transportation committee were more than willing to take the MTA to task for neglecting the only subway that connects Brooklyn to Queens without traveling into Manhattan. Raanan Geberer from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle tells us more, but it’s nothing all that new:

Brooklyn officials and activists told horror stories and demanded better service on the much-maligned “G” train, while the MTA, in effect, pleaded poverty based on today’s economic situation…

Current MTA plans for the line, which has suffered serious cutbacks since late 2001, involve what could be interpreted as “giving with one hand and taking from the other.” This would involve extending the line from the awkward Smith-9th Street southern terminal in Red Hook down to Church Avenue, adding five well-used stops.

But in return, the permanent northern terminal would become Court Square, near Long Island City. Cutbacks from a Forest Hills terminal to Court Square were what started the G protest rolling back in late 2001 – nowadays, the G only goes to Forest Hills on the weekends and late at night, and when track work ensues, it doesn’t even run then.

There’s nothing like City Council members grandstanding on an obvious issue either. “Many people call the G train the stepchild of the transit system, but I call it the abused child, the abandoned child,” Councilmember Letitia James said. “When I was a girl, when I got a `G’ on a paper, it meant “good.” But in the case of the G train, `G’ means God-awful, and it means the train is running like it’s in a ghetto.”

Said Joanne Simon, “Rider consensus is that the route serves too few stations, that the stations have suffered significant neglect, and the service is inadequate.”

Of course, none of these charges are new, but what’s the MTA to do? They have to balance the demands of the service with the volume in the Queens Boulevard tunnel, the track work on the Culver Viaduct and their currently bleak financial situation. The MTA has already withdrawn plans to add cars and more service to the G line, and they still don’t know if the Church Ave. extension will be permanent or temporary.

Meanwhile, while it’s reasonable for G train advocates to ask for better service, some of their demands — like an underground connection to Atlantic Ave. — are just flat-out absurd. An above-ground free transit would be appropriate, but sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into a 600-foot tunnel will never be the best use of MTA funds.

The G train activists have their point: The G line has become a vital subway line for communities along its path and an important connector for folks wishing to avoid the long trip from Queens to Brooklyn via Manhattan. When the money is there, G train upgrades are seemingly on the top of the MTA’s list. But right now, with congestion price hopes dashed and a nation on the brink of a recession, the G train activists are simply fighting for the right causes but at a very wrong time.

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The Secret Conductor April 9, 2008 - 2:29 am

Man… you know what, I just don’t understand who can be against the congestion plan. The only reason why I would have been against it is that I could not get a promise that they would use no less than 80% of the money on MTA projects and service ONLY.

What is worst, unless I am mistaken, is that this all was supposed to be a trail. It was supposed to be a, “lets see if we can work this out” 300+ million dollars just to see if it would work.

I feel sorry for the G train riders, for the F train and all the riders of the queens corridor, 7 train riders, 1,2,3, 4,5,6 riders, A, C train riders and J train riders who loosing Congestion pricing will directly effect your commute. I feel sorry for the Metro north riders who have no service everytime it rains, and LIRR riders who need access to the east side but have to go to the west side first.

I don’t know what is going to happen next.

Chris April 9, 2008 - 11:04 am

Welcome to the post-Congestion-Pricing MTA: whenever riders make demands, tell them, “sorry, we don’t have the money because Congestion Pricing got canned.”

Never mind that they will continue to be horribly corrupt, inept, and inefficient.

Benjamin Kabak April 9, 2008 - 11:11 am

To be fair, Chris, the MTA had to scale back the planned G service increases before congestion pricing failed. So this is really just the icing on the cake.

Chris April 9, 2008 - 5:40 pm

Yes, Ben. But the fact that they specificially cited Congestion Pricing as the reason they weren’t going to make improvements to the G is leading me to suspect that it will become the MTA’s new crutch when they come under any pressure to improve service.


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