Last weekend, after spending the afternoon at Kara Walker’s Domino’s Sugar Factory installation and grabbing dinner at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, I took the G train back to my end of Brooklyn. It was a pretty easy ride, made easier by the fact that we didn’t have to wait long at Greenpoint Avenue, but when we got off in Ft. Greene, I realized I had left my credit card at the restaurant. So I got to enjoy a bonus pair of G train rides.
The ride back to Greenpoint was frustrating. I was annoyed with myself for leaving my card at the restaurant, and to make matters worse, I caught the tail lights on the G departing Fulton St. as I made it to the platform. On schedule 12 minutes later, the next train showed up, and I had better luck on the way home. All told, it was a fine ride that could have been much, much worse.
The next day, G train service got a little bit more frequent. Based on increased off-peak and afternoon demand, the MTA decreased weekday headways from 10 minutes to eight minutes. This move will reduce wait times across the board and alleviate crowds during the P.M. rush. This measure came about after the MTA, at the urging of the Riders Alliance and Daniel Squadron, conducted a line review, and these folks were happy. “These improvements will help commutes on this important line,” Squadron said, “and hopefully make lives a little easier for the riders who depend on it.”
So the politicians like it. But if you thought this increased service would make G train riders happy, guess again. Based on the reaction on social media, G train riders used this news to complain even more about the early morning crowds and the so-called G train sprint. They demand full-length trains from the MTA — though full length trains for the size of those IND Crosstown platforms would be an utter waste of resources — and they bemoaned that the MTA still doesn’t care about G train riders.
On the one hand, as the G train is seemingly ignored throughout the city, its riders are the ones most vocal on Twitter and New York City blogs. It runs through some hip and hipster neighborhoods but also through some areas without density. It doesn’t have the ridership to warrant longer trains, and the concept of induced demand — for which I’ve argued in the past — does not have evidentiary backing strong enough to warrant the costs of added service.
On the other hand, people sometimes have to run for trains! I have to dash down a few staircases if my train is pulling in as I arrive at the station, and sometimes, I miss a train on the weekends that doesn’t run too frequently. It’s all part of not knowing where my train is at all times, but that’s an issue for B division lines without countdown clocks. What makes the G worse of course is the platform sprint, but unless the MTA starts closing extra entrances — such as India St. — the trains won’t line up with the nearest staircases. The crowding complaints are easier to ignore. Let’s see how G riders would handle a rush hour 6 train.
I’m tempted to say the rider complaints can thus be dismissed, but they should be heard out. In an ideal world, the MTA would have the money and resources to run full trains at peak hours to avoid sprints and placate costumers. But they can’t, and the demand isn’t there. When it is, though, riders should be front and center making their voices heard. Today, the added service — which generally runs on time and fairly regularly — will have to suffice.