Jul
29

The G Train: Not Perfect, But Closer

By · Published in 2009

Hi, everyone. My name is Lilit Marcus and I’ll be doing some guest posts over the next couple of days while Benjamin is away. My normal home is over at Save the Assistants, but I’m happy to have the opportunity to branch out a little bit.

As Benjamin noted last week, many riders are happy with the new G train extension to Church Avenue in Brooklyn. I live in Williamsburg close to the Metropolitan G stop, and I’ve been a longtime fan of the train – my boyfriend of two years lives in Long Island City, and I’ve told people we might not be together if dating him meant I had to go into Manhattan and switch trains twice. I’ve also had a soft spot for the G train ever since reading Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, where the protagonist notes that the G is the underdog of the subway system, suffering from insecurity because it’s the only train that doesn’t touch Manhattan.

While the G extension further into Brooklyn is a great (albeit temporary) start, there are two other issues I’d like to see the G address:

1. The G, in order to be even more efficient, needs to extend one stop further past Court Square and go to Queens Plaza. This would connect the G easily with the E, V, and R lines. When the G used to run more reliably to Forest Hills on nights and weekends, it made it a lot easier for G riders to connect with other lines in Queens. Before the extension to Church Avenue, I also thought it would be great for the G to somehow go to Atlantic Avenue, but I can deal with walking from the Fulton Street stop.

2. Get some more damn cars. It’s great that the G now has a longer route and serves more neighborhoods (and that it extends to Coney Island many weekends in place of the F), so it’s more than time to have more than four cars per train. How many of you have had the classic “first time on the G” moment when you realize that you’re standing at the wrong end of the platform and have to haul ass in order to squeeze into the last car? The G isn’t the Times Square/Grand Central shuttle, OK? Time to give it more capacity.



Categories : Brooklyn, Queens

22 Responses to “The G Train: Not Perfect, But Closer”

  1. Ben says:

    As an Astoriaite, I REALLY wish they’d fulfill the promises of subway maps everywhere by letting the G continue into Queens like it really wants to. Having to do the W to the 7 to the G is just ridiculous.

  2. Marc Shepherd says:

    Welcome aboard, Lilit.

    It is not physically possible to extend the G to Queens Plaza. The trains could not turn around, and head back to Brooklyn, without blocking other traffic. That is the reason why it terminates at Court Square. It if goes anywhere beyond Court Square, it needs to continue to Forest Hills (which is not possible at peak times for other reasons).

    The G Train will get more cars when it earns them. I know that some people think there’s a secret conspiracy to make the G as bad as possible, but it’s simply not as crowded as many other lines, even with only 4 cars. Before the current financial crisis, the MTA had planned to lengthen the C Train from 8 to 10 cars, so that’s where the priorities are.

  3. Jerrold says:

    For riders going between Manhattan and Brooklyn, it’s a very big nuisance when the F does NOT go down the Culver Line towards Coney Island.
    It’s not like it was so terrible for the G to be going to Coney Island.
    What was terrible was the F train NOT going there.

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      The G didn’t go to Coney Island as a favor to riders. It went there because the F couldn’t, due to weekend construction.

  4. sparky says:

    time for a post from the grumpy older guy from greenpernt.
    number of cars on the G train: for years, before the MTA decoupled them, the G had a full compliment (8/10) cars, but guess what–they were all empty. and they stayed that way until the recent gentrification when for reasons that remain unclear to me, hordes of people from somewhere else all decided in lemming-like fashion that the absolutely HAD to move to the L and G lines. the MTA is entitled to wait to see if this is a temporary burp of ill-placed hipster nitwittery or a long-term change in the ‘hoods. yeah, i’m still pissed about it. can you tell? 🙂

    Queens Plaza: the G DID run to Queens Plaza until the the 63rd street tunnel was opened. the tracks had to be reconfigured for the switches for the F and as a result there was nowhere for the G to lie over. it was at the same time that the Court Square connector was built. it sucks for G riders (i rode that train for 20 years), but it did alleviate intense crowding at QP.

    it’s great that you are filling in, but you really ought to check your facts before posting. and get off my lawn! /end rant

    • rhywun says:

      You should develop the knack that I have to always live in non-trendy neighborhoods… let’s see… seven years in Astoria, three years in Bay Ridge… what next? (There was a two-year sojourn in Chelsea that I’m omitting for obvious reasons.) I don’t think a hipster would be caught dead on the N or R and that’s the way I likes it. And that is the only positive thing you will ever hear me say about the R. Ever.

    • George says:

      There’s a fifth track east of Queens Plaza, isn’t there? Is that too short to turn trains around?

      I actually remember them putting that track up back when the 63rd St connector was being constructed. I always assumed that it would be used to turn G trains around, but for some reason or other it seems to be laying dormant now.

  5. herenthere says:

    Feisty…I like you…could really put politicians on their edges!

  6. SEAN says:

    Why cant the G run from Coney Island to 179th Street Jamaica? That way the F can run express in both Brooklyn & queens speeding up the ride to & from Manhattan in both directions. This configuration also allows for a bypass of crowded Manhattan stations even if it runs local.

  7. Scott E says:

    I just wonder, since they’re replacing a lot of the Division B trains with R160s, why they don’t take some of those older cars and tack them onto the G, rather than dump them in the ocean somewhere. I’m not sure which type of car the G uses, but aren’t they scrapping comparable models from other lines?

    • rhywun says:

      I think they’re running those cars through turgid water and then handing them over to the R. That’s how it smells, at least.

    • Damned Architect says:

      The reason that this won’t happen is that the MTA is able to have a single person operating a 4 car train with R-46 units. Using older cars (such as the R-32’s for example) would require hiring a train operator and a conductor because at least 6 cars would be needed. Why the difference: Because each R-46 is 75 feet long, therefore 4 cars equal 300 feet in length. An R-32 is 60 feet long, and since the MTA operates these (and almost all other units) in pairs, 4 cars would equal 240 feet and 6 cards would equal 360 feet. Obviously, a 20% reduction in passenger capacity would be unacceptable. But for a 20% increase in passenger capacity, labor costs are doubled!

      My guess is that the G train won’t get additional carrying capacity until the entire line is automated like the L train now is. Will that happen anytime soon? Frankly, I’m betting that the R-46’s stay on the G until the entire fleet is retired to the deep blue sea!

      • Scott E says:

        Are there no retired R46s? A single “B” car (no cab) should be able to be added. It would make a 375-foot train, which is not all that much more than one “half” of an eleven-car #7 train (360 feet). It’s got two more doors (five cars x 4 doors/car versus 6 cars x 3 doors/car) and 15 more feet. But I guess there’s a limit, and since the guy operating the G is also driving the train, as opposed to the #7 conductor who just opens the doors and makes announcements, it might be too much.

        • Damned Architect says:

          Scott, you raise an interesting point: why does the MTA insist on running train cars in groups of 2 or 4? The 7 train is the perfect example; remember how the redbirds were made up of 5 pairs of R-36’s with a solitary R-33 floating in the mix? I recall reading something about how the older paired cars had the air-conditioning going between them, which explains why there was always that one hot and muggy car (the R-33) on the 7 Train that remained empty even as the neighboring cars (R-36’s) were overflowing! But since I don’t work for the MTA, I can’t say why your solution couldn’t be carried out on the G line, assuming labor costs aren’t an issue.

  8. Caelestor says:

    Park Slope riders are gonna call you on that one.

  9. The reason that this won’t happen is that the MTA is able to have a single person operating a 4 car train with R-46 units. Using older cars (such as the R-32’s for example) would require hiring a train operator and a conductor because at least 6 cars would be needed. Why the difference: Because each R-46 is 75 feet long, therefore 4 cars equal 300 feet in length. An R-32 is 60 feet long, and since the MTA operates these (and almost all other units) in pairs, 4 cars would equal 240 feet and 6 cards would equal 360 feet. Obviously, a 20% reduction in passenger capacity would be unacceptable. But for a 20% increase in passenger capacity, labor costs are doubled!

    My guess is that the G train won’t get additional carrying capacity until the entire line is automated like the L train now is. Will that happen anytime soon? Frankly, I’m betting that the R-46’s stay on the G until the entire fleet is retired to the deep blue sea!
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  10. Alon Levy says:

    The time to complain about the G was when it was on the drawing board in the 1920s. The IND chose to make the route incompatible with the existing lines, with no transfer to Atlantic/Pacific, Borough Hall, Hunters Point, or Queensboro Plaza.

    If you want good crosstown service, ask the MTA to allocate more resources toward activating Triboro Line, which is designed to maximize rather than minimize connections.

    • Jon says:

      That’s the sh!t track, right? I used to live on E 8th street and Ave. I, and those tracks were right next door. Every morning and night one train would pass those tracks. The morning car had garbage from Long Island, and the afternoon one had contents unknown. I used to play football with friends on those tracks often. I always wondered why they never used the track for something useful (like a subway). Then Google Earth came out, and I was even more perplexed! The whole route is so configurable! It literally connects to the L train, the LIRR, E/F trains, and goes to the Bronx! Sure they have to electify the tracks and add a 2nd track for 2 directions, but that can’t be even close to the expenditures of the 2nd Ave Subway. And the distance of the route! Also buses like the B11 and the B6 may not have to exist, which would releive some bus expenditures.

      But there are problems. The N train seems to run on the same track from New Utretch onwards unless Google deceives me.

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