Home Asides Transit rejects IND/BMT transfer in South Williamsburg

Transit rejects IND/BMT transfer in South Williamsburg

by Benjamin Kabak

The Broadway station on the G, the IND Crosstown line that runs from Brooklyn to Queens, and the J/M/Z’s Lorimer St. station on the BMT Jamaica line are separated by a half block and two turnstiles. Residents have long wished for a transfer between the G and the J/M/Z lines, and as the population in the area has swelled, Transit has faced numerous requests to provide, at the last, a free out-of-system transfer as they do at 59th St./63rd St. in Manhattan between the 4/5/6/N/R/W and F trains.

According to a recent report at BushwickBK.com, Transit has rejected a recent request to grant this transfer. The authority says there’s no need for a transfer, and with money tight, the agency isn’t about to give up a few extra swipes. “NYC Transit does not intend to implement any external walking transfers,” Transit spokesperson Deirdre Parker said. “It is possible for our customers to travel conveniently on almost every conceivable path within Brooklyn.” Even, as Parker notes, with over 50 percent of subway riders using unlimited cards, a free transfer would be convenient as there are no points in the system where the G and J/M/Z share a station.

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Judge April 7, 2010 - 7:25 pm

It would be nice to one day have an in-system transfer between the G and both Lorimer Street Station and Atlantic Ave / Pacific St.

Benjamin Kabak April 7, 2010 - 11:04 pm

The in-system transfer from the G to Atlantic/Pacific doesn’t make sense. That’s a 600+ yard walk. The cost-benefit analysis doesn’t suggest that transfer should ever be constructed.

Andrew April 11, 2010 - 10:42 am

Lorimer – Broadway is a 0.2-mile (3-min) walk. (It’s not half a block, despite what your source article said. Look at any map.)

Fulton – Atlantic is a 0.2-mile (4-min) walk.

And while we’re checking up on these things:

Bowery – Grand is a 0.2-mile (4-min) walk.

Queensboro Plaza – Queens Plaza is a 0.2-mile (3-min) walk.

Simpson – Hunts Point is a 0.3-mile (5-min) walk.

All in the same ballpark.

Google isn’t showing Junius – Livonia properly since apparently it doesn’t know about the footbridge.

Alon Levy April 11, 2010 - 3:14 pm

According to Google Maps, the distance from Fulton/Lafayette to Atlantic/Flatbush, it’s 500 meters; to 4th/Pacific, it’s 550.

The distance from Broadway/Union to Broadway/Lorimer is 250; however, if the MTA wants a real transfer there, it might as well close down Lorimer and Hewes and build a new station at Union.

Junius/Livonia and Lawrence/Jay have the platforms crossing each other, one on top of the other; a free transfer would involve no walking away from the platform.

Andrew April 14, 2010 - 7:09 am

I’m not sure where you get 500; the link I provided (switch from miles to km) shows 350. (There’s no need to walk to the actual corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, since that’s not where the station entrance is.)

I believe a Union station was considered by the MTA – and rejected. I know you think that construction shouldn’t cost anything, but it does, especially when it’s alongside an active subway line that operates 24/7. And while a Union station would be more convenient for people who want to transfer to the G, it would be less convenient for people who currently use Hewes and Lorimer and would have a longer walk to the new station.

You’re wrong about both Junius/Livonia and Lawrence/Jay. The platform at Lawrence ends about a block east of where it crosses the IND. And the platforms at Junius are on the west side of the LIRR tracks while the BMT runs on the east side. There is a footbridge over the tracks, but non-subway riders need that connection too, so the footbridge can’t simply be taken over by the MTA. This is all plainly visible on a Google satellite view (and quite unforgettable for anybody who’s ever walked between the two stations – I think it’s always a good idea to visit the neighborhood before proposing a new subway transfer!).

E. Aron April 7, 2010 - 9:50 pm

I don’t understand how it’s not a free transfer over in Brooklyn. I transfer from the 59th st. & Lex Ave. station to the 63rd St. F station everyday. It’s a regular transfer, the same as getting out of any station and swiping into another one. When I go to transfer to the bus once I get out in Queens, had I not used a monthly unlimited, I’d have exhausted my one transfer.

So 2 things – I don’t understand what’s “free” about the 59th-63rd transfer, and I don’t see why passengers transferring from the G to the JMZ wouldn’t have the same transfer everyone does on a value metrocard.

AlexB April 8, 2010 - 10:15 am

All out of system transfers are “free” if you have an unlimited ride metrocard. If you have a pay-per-ride card, you have to swipe your card at a special machine on your way out that allows you to swipe again at the transfer station without it deducting more cash from your card.

E. Aron April 8, 2010 - 3:52 pm

I’ve used a pay-per-ride card to make the out of system transfer as well. Just like transferring to a bus after getting off the subway, where you don’t need to use any special machine, it treated it as a transfer. I can’t say I understand what the problem is.

Andrew April 8, 2010 - 9:15 pm

There’s no problem. It’s just not provided anywhere except at two station pairs.

Andrew April 7, 2010 - 9:56 pm

Out-of-system transfers have the effect of permitting free short-term round-trips at the affected stations. NYCT has never implemented out-of-system transfers except to mitigate for service changes that reduce transfer options from some corridors – there are only two right now, both instituted in 2001 to compensate for the F’s rerouting via 63rd and the G’s weekday truncation to Court Square, and the second one will disappear as soon as the enclosed transfer is completed.

There are plenty of places that out-of-system transfers would be useful, but NYCT policy is obviously not to allow them in general. That policy is certainly not going to change during a budget crisis!

aestrivex April 8, 2010 - 8:43 am

I have no idea how the MTA could find this particular transfer untenable; this is years overdue. By not allowing this transfer they are probably not saving much revenue but rather inconveniencing a multitude of people each day who find more circuitous transfers (such as that between the G and L) or walk. Geographically, the transfer between the G and J at broadway and lorimer makes far more sense than the 63/lex out-of-system transfer.

northgardner April 8, 2010 - 9:48 am

Another out-of-system transfer that I think would make sense is between the N/W at Queensboro Plaza and the E/R/V at Queens Plaza. I have an unlimited MetroCard, and I use this route when traveling between Astoria and Forest Hills. Without an unlimited, I’d have to make a second transfer to the 7, which would add a substantial amount of time.

AlexB April 8, 2010 - 10:44 am

I always thought it would be nice if they built an elevated walkway from the station to Union St with moving walkways and then an escalator down to the Broadway platform. Measuring on Google Maps, it is a 700′ walk from Lorimer to Broadway. If they added an elevator, they could make two stations ADA compliant at once.

This isn’t a big transfer opportunity, but it does facilitate certain trips, particularly non rush hour trips. I used to travel from Greenpoint to the LES every weekend to visit friends and that transfer was really the only way.

I wonder if they ever considered tearing down the Hewes and Lorimer stations and building one big express station at Union. About the F to 456 transfer, they should have just built a pedestrian tunnel with moving walkways when they built that station. It’s not that far to walk, but both of those stations are so far below ground it takes forever.

Mike April 8, 2010 - 12:47 pm

AlexB, I agree. I live on the G line, and commute to lower Manhattan. At least until the M changes color, I take the G and transfer to the M. So, as long as we’re dreaming, remove the Hewes+Lorimer stations, and build an express+local stop at Union. (Not that this is ever likely to happen, given that the MTA appears to want Brodaway, er Broadway, to disintegrate. Too bad.)

Thinking about it, they should have an “adopt-a-station” program just like they have “adopt-a-highway”. I’m not talking about renaming a station, just having someone pay to be responsible for station upkeep and get kudos signs around the station.

Alon Levy April 8, 2010 - 3:46 pm

I don’t get the “lost revenue” argument. How many people who use pay-per-rides even make this transfer today, five? If anything the MTA would be gaining revenue by making subway use slightly more convenient for riders.

Andrew April 8, 2010 - 9:20 pm

Since there are no exit swipes, the MetroCard system has no way of knowing if you’re actually making a transfer. If you take the train to Lorimer, do some shopping, and get back on the train at Lorimer (within 2 hours of the start of your initial trip), the system will give you the benefit of the doubt and let you in for free. Even though you didn’t actually make the transfer. Even though you probably weren’t even expecting a free return trip.

If there were exit swipes, the system could restrict free entries to the other station of the pair and could impose stricter time limits – if you exit at Lorimer, you’d have to board at Broadway within, say, 10 minutes in order to receive the free transfer. But that’s not how the MetroCard system works.

Alon Levy April 8, 2010 - 11:22 pm

How many people make those trips to Lorimer? It’s not Bloomingdale’s.

Andrew April 9, 2010 - 7:05 am

I don’t know; certainly more than zero. (Broadway is a commercial strip, although mostly of local interest.)

But the point is that the MTA didn’t reject this one location from a long list of out-of-system transfers; the MTA is simply maintaining its long-standing policy of not allowing out-of-system transfers anywhere, except at two locations to compensate for service changes made by the MTA itself. If that policy were dropped to allow this transfer, the MTA would be opening itself up to dozens of similar transfers around the city. The revenue loss at some of the locations – and certainly for the program overall – would be quite substantial.

The MTA is facing a budget crisis now. The MTA isn’t going to adopt a new policy that will permanently reduce fare revenues at dozens of locations around the city.

Alon Levy April 10, 2010 - 2:48 am

I think the MTA should be adopting policies that will permanently make service better and increase ridership, but what do I know.

Andrew April 10, 2010 - 9:43 pm

I take it you’re planning to fund the program out of your own pocket, then? The MTA certainly isn’t in a position to fund it right now.

Alon Levy April 11, 2010 - 3:14 am

But the cost is approximately zero, almost certainly outweighed by gains in ridership… There aren’t “dozens of locations” in the city that need those out of system transfers. Aside from the ones that are already in place, the only places that clearly need those transfers are Junius/Livonia and Lorimer/Broadway. Two additional missing transfers, Bleecker/Broadway-Lafayette and Jay/Lawrence, are getting free in-system transfers out of the capital budget.

Actually, in conjunction with the V/M consolidation, such a move could take off considerable traffic from the L. The resulting improvement in service levels would not only induce more ridership (= revenue), as well as shorten L train dwells and improve on-time performance (= less overtime for train operators).

Andrew April 11, 2010 - 10:24 am

Who decides which locations “clearly need” transfers? You? The current criterion is very simple: if a service change made by the MTA has removed a transfer opportunity, then the MTA will consider compensating by introducing an out-of-system transfer. What’s the new criterion? If the Fort Greene community asks for an Atlantic – Fulton transfer, or the Chinatown community asks for a Bowery – Grand transfer, or the Long Island City community asks for a Queensboro Plaza – Queens Plaza transfer, or the South Bronx community asks for a Simpson – Hunts Point transfer, on what grounds does the MTA not grant them? Because Alon Levy said they’re not “clearly needed”?

The MTA has both ridership models (to estimate the ridership impact of implementing new transfers) and revenue models (to estimate the revenue impact, both losses due to free round trips and gains due to ridership increases). I’m sorry, but I trust the MTA’s models over your assumptions. If the net revenue impact of this sort of change were positive, it would have been implemented a long time ago.

(And as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, on-time performance has virtually nothing to do with overtime. Late trains aren’t the cause of the MTA’s overtime expenses.)

A policy that I think would be more equitable, more useful, and easier for the public to understand is a 2-hour unlimited transfer window with each fare paid. Of course, the revenue loss would be quite substantial. Perhaps it could be implemented during the next fare hike – increase the nominal PPR fare enough to maintain the desired increase in fare revenue.

Alon Levy April 11, 2010 - 10:38 am

Did the MTA even make models?

The rule I’m using for those transfers is, “If there were more money for capital spending, would these station pairs get in-system transfers?” That in turn is based on the missing transfers the IND didn’t bother to plan for (plus Junius/Livonia, which will be the only missing IRT/BMT transfer once Fulton Street Transit Center opens). Grand/Bowery would never make the cut because of the Essex/Delancey transfer. A-P/Fulton and QBP/QP might, but a) they’d involve a lot of walking, and b) the revenue loss argument there actually makes some sense.

Andrew April 11, 2010 - 11:49 am

Yes, you may be surprised to learn that the largest transit agency in the country relies on more than guesswork.

Is your assessment of potential capital projects based on actual cost-benefit analysis or simply on more guesswork? Because I believe the MTA has studied and rejected enclosed connections for both.

What IRT/BMT transfer is the Fulton Street Transit Center adding that doesn’t already exist? And Grand/Bowery and Essex/Delancey have completely different connections at the Brooklyn end – without Grand/Bowery, a trip from the West End line to the Broadway Brooklyn line will require 2 transfers once the South Brooklyn M is gone.

Alon Levy April 11, 2010 - 3:01 pm

FSTC is supposed to connect the R/W to the other lines.

I’m still waiting for evidence that the MTA has a model there… (P.S. my model is, “Figure out how much the same project would cost in a few Continental European countries, and multiply by 7.”)

Andrew April 14, 2010 - 7:13 am

FSTC is providing an out-of-system passageway, not a transfer, between Broadway and Church. This is clearly spelled out in the project documents. (Not that the R really needs a transfer to the Fulton Street complex.)

A simple Google search comes up with many references to an NYCT ridership model, mostly in EIS’s and similar documents. I found this link, to a collection of newspaper clippings at the time of the 2004 Manhattan Bridge four-track reopening, particularly interesting.

Andrew April 8, 2010 - 9:29 pm

“Separated by a half block and two turnstiles”? Looks like three blocks to me.


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