Home MTA Absurdity Uncovering the not-so-secret secrets of the subway with The New York Times

Uncovering the not-so-secret secrets of the subway with The New York Times

by Benjamin Kabak

In a (not very) groundbreaking article in Sunday’s The City section, The New York Times took a look at something Greenpoint residents and savvy subway riders have long known: The G train never shows up.

Gosh. I had no idea. I certainly didn’t write about the G train when I graded the subways or talked about subway-line-themed condoms. And these two fine ladies certainly can tell you how reliable the G train is.

But hey, I should cut The Times some slack. The piece was, after all, one of those neighborhood articles in The City section, and it contained some good information:

For residents of Jackson Heights who enjoy the cuisines of Carroll Gardens, for example, or for Greenpointers who shop at the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst, the G can be a straight shot, no train changes needed.

That route, however, is available solely on nights and weekends, the only times the G is scheduled to travel the second half of its appointed route, from Long Island City to Forest Hills. And as of May 24, the 14-mile span became even less real. New York City Transit posted signs saying the line’s route will be abbreviated on weekends “until further notice” because of track work along the Queens Boulevard line, where the G makes the second half of its normal run.

That certainly is bad news for all two of the people who use the G to avoid Manhattan while traveling from Queens to Brooklyn. And while the members of Astorians aren’t too thrilled, it was generally quicker to take a train into Manhattan and then back out to Brooklyn than it is to take the G. This work just makes the G train (which may one day reach further into Brooklyn) all the more useless.

While straphangers search for alternate routes, I wanted to suggest a few more stories The Times could tackle in its effort to bring the obvious to the pages of The City section.

The F Train: It’s crowded. Especially at rush hour and in Park Slope. Also, it doesn’t run often enough and Brooklyn residents really, really, really want V service in Brooklyn and F trains to utilize the underused express tracks. If you live in Brooklyn, you can’t avoid this story.

The M Train: Who rides it? Where does it go? (Answers: No one and nowhere.)

The 7 Train: According to some, this train is “depressing.” It’s filled with “[kids] with purple hair next to some [guy] with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids.” (Hat tip, John Rocker.)

The Shuttle: This train just goes back and forth, and one of its terminals is in Times Square which was named after the now-newspaperless Times Building. Did you know that, The New York Times?

The Second Ave. Subway: There isn’t one. Why not? (Of course, you could just find that answer right here.)

So there ya go, City Section: A few lesser-known well-known stories to go with your exposé on the G train, delivered with love from me to you.

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Alex June 12, 2007 - 10:29 am

Funny you should mention the 7 line and sitting next to a guy who just got out of jail for the 4th time. I was on the train a few months ago and a guy and his friend sat next to me and I overheard their conversation. His friend asked if he was going to turn himself in, and the guy was like “Yes, but I’m going to wait til after the summer. When I was in this last time I was there during the summer and they didn’t have any fans and it was mad hot. At least in the winter they have heat and blankets and you get a warm meal.”

Awesome…not only was I sitting next to a jail bird, he was also on the run from the cops. For what? I don’t know, but I was tempted to ask.

Benjamin Kabak June 12, 2007 - 10:30 am

So John Rocker was right?!

todd June 12, 2007 - 9:07 pm

The G and the F are like a horror movie. Or a homeless shelter. Or a horror movie in a homeless shelter.

jew June 25, 2007 - 4:53 pm

I feel like last summer i had some really good luck with the G… not so much this summer. I just take the B61 bus to the R to get to queens center. But it takes forever to get the R home. blah!

I wish there was a target in my backyard. This would make life so much better.


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