Home Brooklyn Brooklyn riders want some ‘F’-ing express service

Brooklyn riders want some ‘F’-ing express service

by Benjamin Kabak


Unused express tracks on Brooklyn’s Culver Line offer a tantalizing glimpse of what could be in Brooklyn. (Track map courtesy of NYC Subway)

Ah, the F train, aptly named after the words coming out of its riders’ mouths in Brooklyn as another stuffed train pulls up to the 7th Ave. stop in Park Slope in the morning. Or maybe it is named after what people say as they wait and wait and wait for the train to show up at night.

The F line though hides a dirty little secret: The capabilities exist, track-wise, for express service through Brooklyn. Now, on the heels of my post yesterday about the G train, one Brooklyn resident (and blogger) has taken up the call to arms. Gary from Brooklyn Streets, Carroll Gardens has started a petition to call on the MTA to add express F train service in Brooklyn and extend the V train from 2nd Ave. in Manhattan to part (or all) of Brooklyn. (The petition, if that’s your thing, is here.)

Gary believes that if, as I do, the congestion fee will increase subway ridership, crowded lines such as the F will become even more packed with commuters. The MTA should therefore do all it can to alleviate the crush.

I can’t argue with that logic, and in fact, I know that some of you have repeatedly said they would also shoulder fare hikes if the money went to increased service in the system. I’m all on board for that plan, but I think the F express/V extension plan faces some hurdles.

Most notably is something that Gary himself reported on a few weeks ago: The Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation Project, set to begin next year and wrap up in 2012, will make express service impossible until completion.

The next problem is a physical one: The track switches that would enable express service out to Coney Island are no longer in place. NYCSubway.org notes: “In the early 1990s, the double crossover just south of Kings Highway enabling trains from Coney Island to switch to the express track was removed and now all F trains now run local on the Culver line.”

Furthermore, after Church Ave., the double express tracks on the Culver Line converge into a single express track similar to the way the 7 line snakes through Queens. Simply put, the MTA wouldn’t be able to run express trains in both directions past Church Ave. because the tracks don’t exist.

These problems don’t even touch upon the scheduling issues inherent in extending the V at least another 12 stops, the fact that more trains and employees are needed to run the V line into Brooklyn, and the detail that the express tracks in Manhattan end right after the 2nd Ave. stop. The V and F would have to share tracks from 2nd Ave. to Jay St./Borough Hall.

But if money and train scheduling were not an obstacle, I would put forth the following plan: Run the F as an express train from Jay St./Borough Hall to Church Ave. The F would stop at York St., Jay St., 7th Avenue and Church Ave. before running local to Coney Island. Meanwhile, extend the V to Church Ave. as the local. Church Ave. is the last four-track stop on the Culver Line and provides for a switch so that the V can turn around and head back to Manhattan.

With this plan, the stations with the highest number of riders would see staggered service. Carroll Gardens riders wouldn’t have to shove Park Slope residents into already-crammed trains in the morning. The V would become a more viable line in Manhattan, and everyone in Brooklyn would be happy.

We can dream, right?

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Gary June 13, 2007 - 3:46 pm

Thanks for covering this. MTA needs a major overhaul of the system with service upgrades in many places, Brooklyn of course nearest to my heart.

The money is out there: NYC surplus projected at $4.4 billion, and only $200 million of that going to transit and environmental initiatives combined. How about a billion? It’s time we made serious investments in transit again, and those investments will pay off in shorter commutes, greater efficiency, quality of life, jobs, etc.

Todd June 13, 2007 - 7:20 pm

I signed it. The MTA needs to invest some serious time and money into improving service.

slappy June 13, 2007 - 9:07 pm

don’t forget, to mitigate the screaming of the Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens people about their beloved F train, rehab the lower level of the Bergen St station (last seen in the movie Jacob’s Ladder), to allow for express service to Bergen St as well.

Most people (maybe even you) forget that Bergen St was designed as an express stop, with a lower-level express platform. The G used to run local and the F express. No one liked that idea, so they stopped it.

Gary June 13, 2007 - 11:20 pm

slappy, the way I envision it, that lower level platform remains closed, the F train runs express on those tracks, and the V runs local upstairs.

BTW, something like 750 people have signed on already. Mindblowing.

Benjamin Kabak June 14, 2007 - 1:02 am


I thought about the Bergen St. express stop, but by adding that, a few factors come into play.

First, by adding the Bergen St. stop, the F becomes less express-y. It would then be stopping at Jay St. followed by Bergen (which is the next local stop) and then 7th Ave. Since Bergen is relatively close to Carroll St., I think people would migrate to the express stop. Instead of alleviating the overcrowded trains, we would still see packed cars.

Second, the Bergen St. stop was never a working stop and probably never intended to be one despite early construction. To include Bergen St. in this plan would make the cost astronomical because it would involve, in effect, building a new subway stop at Bergen St. out of an old discarded shell.

If this F Express/V Extension plan were to become a reality, I think the cost would need to be kept to a relative minimum. And thus, no Bergen St. stop on the F Express.

Marc Shepherd June 14, 2007 - 8:53 am

I am fairly certain that the Rutgers Street Tunnel is not at capacity, and it could accommodate two services, much as the Cranberry Street Tunnel does with the A/C.

The one flaw in your proposal is that the V should be express in Brooklyn, not the F. The reason is that the V isn’t going to be a 24×7 train. The Culver Line may need express service, but it doesn’t need express service all night long.

It is much easier and less confusing if the F maintains its present service pattern, which would operate at all times. The V, when it operates in Brooklyn, would provide the express service. Also, people who continue to ride the F would have nothing new to learn.

Scott June 14, 2007 - 9:54 am

Marc is correct – the F should remain local and V extended to to church as an express. Another reason why they should use this service pattern is that the F train has a higher frequency than the V – meaning if the V were made the local train, local stops would actually see a decrease in their service.

The V should run express to Church avenue during the week and extend to Kings highway in peak direction for rush hours (this would, I believe) require the installation of some new switches at Kings Hwy). Also, the G should be extended permanently to Church avenue. There is an underground four track yard south of Church Ave allowing G and V trains to turn around and not interfere with other service.

Mike June 14, 2007 - 2:04 pm

The lower level at Bergen Street was indeed used back when there was express service on this line.

Benjamin Kabak June 14, 2007 - 2:07 pm

Thanks, Mike.

My mistake. The station’s been abandoned and is in a state of extreme disrepair. They could run express service without fixing it up as they have done on the weekends when F trains skip the stops in between 7th Ave and Jay St. I’m not convinced that they need to repair the station to have viable express service.

As for the F Express/V Express ideas: It’s semantics really. Express service would operate at peak hours from 2nd Ave. in Manhattan to Church Ave. in Brooklyn. Call it the F; call it the V. It doesn’t matter. One train will run express, the other local.

Gary June 14, 2007 - 3:23 pm

Second what Ben said above.

Switching at Jay Street for an express is not too great a cross to bear.

Also, over 1,000 signatures now. Now, up to the thread above to discuss Silver’s atrocious idea.

Aaron Donovan June 17, 2007 - 10:03 pm

Great report Ben. Thanks for the info. The Sea Beach Line has the same unused track capacity for express service. Hopefully that could also be revived one day.

Petition for F express service picking up steam « Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways June 22, 2007 - 12:59 am

[…] along the unused express tracks on Brooklyn’s Culver line, the movement, while presenting a very feasible plan, had yet to gain steam. Well, the last nine days have seen a whirlwind of attention, and what began […]

Last hours to sign the F train petition « Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways June 26, 2007 - 5:30 pm

[…] Gary Reilly of Brooklyn Streets created the petition a few weeks back. I analyzed his plan two weeks ago and reiterated my support […]

Justin July 5, 2007 - 12:36 am

In Queens, the V is the Queens Blvd Local while the F is the Queens Blvd Express. It would make totally no sense for the V to be the express in Brooklyn for the F, when it serves as the local for the F in Queens. The V returns Weekdays from 6am to 12am. So run the V to church Avenue as the local. The F can be express from church avenue to jay street. When the V isn’t running, switch the F to the local tracks.

This is the system done in most of the city. In Queens, when the V and R locals are unavailable, the E express switches to the local tracks. When the C local isn’t running in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the A express runs local.

Late at night, the 2 and 4 trains in Manhattan run local though the 1 and 6 locals remain in service.

At night, when the R, and W locals aren’t running, the N express runs local.

Michael Sherrell July 16, 2009 - 3:58 pm

When this issue has been discussed on other transit forums, I have alway suggested that the V-train become the express route. One – the F-train has a higher frequency of service, and the major reason why the F-train is local in Brooklyn is because of Park Slope residents who complained about the less frequent local service when some F-trains did run express in the 1970’s so why create a similar situation. Two – the V-train does not run all the time, so when the V-train ends so does express service, no fuss or confusion. Three – ending the V-train as an express at Kings Highway is do-able now, no new for new signals, switches etc. Four – The V-train and F-train are similar in Manhattan until 47-50th Streets – no real change for most riders. Five – If the B train can be local along the Bronx and Central Park West – and then express on Sixth AVenue and express along the Brighton line — the V-train can be local in Queens and Manhattan and express in Brooklyn. The route is still serving the needs of the riders. All of this will however have to wait for the renovation of the Culver viaduct, and an increase in subway cars, money and manpower.


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