Home Brooklyn G train advocates dismayed by MTA’s ‘grave injustice’

G train advocates dismayed by MTA’s ‘grave injustice’

by Benjamin Kabak

At the end of last week, when New York City Transit announced that some service increases were heading our way in July, one line was noticeably absent from the list. That line was, of course, the IND Crosstown train, better known as the G train.

In fact, in writing about the service changes, Times transit reporter William Neuman explicitly mentioned the G train:

One line that had been scheduled for more service in the original proposal last December but was not included in this round of improvements was the G. Riders on the G often complain of long waits between trains. Officials said the G did not exceed the loading guidelines.

In English, that means that, based on metrics set by NYC Transit, G train capacity and wait times were within acceptable margins. In other words, tough.

G train activists — some of the more vocal in the system — were outraged. “The M.T.A. has done a grave injustice to G train riders and commuters in Brooklyn if it fails to enact service enhancements,” Hakeem Jeffries, Assembly representative from Brooklyn said late last week.

What Mr. Jeffries conveniently left was his anti-congestion pricing stance. While bemoaning the fate of service along a train important to his constituents, Jeffries didn’t offer up a mea culpa on his stance surrounding a plan that would have brought in money for the MTA to fund service upgrades.

This is, of course, nothing new for beleaguered proponents of the G train. While not the most devoted blogger, Teresa Toro’s Save the G organization has long fought for more service on the only major subway line to eschew the borough of Manhattan. And in this case I have to side with Toro, Jeffries and G train riders.

The MT’s loading guidelines view service overall. It’s true that the G train on weekends and off-peak times is mostly empty, and the ten-minute intervals between trains is manageable. But during rush hour, as residents from Gowanus to Greenpoint to and from Forest Hills to Long Island City scramble to make their G train connections, the four-car and six-car trains are packed to the gills. While the MTA needs to balance G train service with the demands of the Queens Boulevard trains, the G — particularly in the norther stretches of Brooklyn — needs more rush hour service. How and when it will happen is anyone’s guess.

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KaiB June 27, 2008 - 11:13 am

“the four- and six-car trains are packed to the gills”

There haven’t been six-car trains since the dawn of the V.

Bart June 27, 2008 - 11:33 am

Is there anyone that would actually waste their time trying to take the G train on the weekends anyways??? When I lived in Greenpoint a few years ago, I did everything I could to avoid the G at all times cause it was so unreliable. You can’t say the G train won’t be getting imroved because it doesn’t get used enough when the very reason it doesn’t get used enough is because it needs to be improved! I would have gladly avoided all the buses I took if I could have depended on the G.

Steve Koppelman June 27, 2008 - 12:22 pm

And Greenpoint has it good, too! The one line ostensibly connecting Brooklyn and Queens terminates one stop into Queens on weekends. There’s alleged “track and signal work” that nobody’s ever seen and has been going on for years which has meant no G trains past Court Square.

As the demographics of Queens and Brooklyn have shifted in the past two decades, there are now a whole lot of residents along the Brooklyn and Queens portions of the G who would stream back and forth if the G were running. Between Park Slope refugees who have moved to Jackson Heights and Astoria residents who spend their nights and weekends shopping, dining and socializing in Brooklyn, G trains would be packed to the gills if they ran.

Instead of a 15-minute weekend trip from Astoria to Williamsburg on a restored G, it’s 45 minutes if you’re extremely lucky if you transfer from an R and catch a B61 bus from Queens Plaza right away, but usually more in the 60-90 minute range. Instead of 25 minutes to Fort Greene or 30 to Park Slope or Red Hook, as it is on a running G, Western and Central Queens residents are looking at an hour or two, and deciding between any of several routes that require three or more trains and buses.

This reminds me of when they first introduced the Metrocard. MTA leadership held public Q+A sessions where they asked for suggestions on how to get more people to use them. The MTA officials threw around some ideas: better advertising? Contests? More retail outlets for cards? As the riders knew, and told them in no uncertain terms, it was all about accepting the Metrocard at more stations. When you can use it everywhere (and at the time, it wasn’t even usable at Uniuon Square!), you’ll have no problem getting people to use it.

Who’s gonna ride a G train that runs on three unannounced weekend days out of the year? The day of the 2007 Atlantic Antic street fair, my wife and I were shocked when a G pulled into our station. The car was half-full with people equally stunned. It was all anyone on the train could talk about. As we quickly made our way into Brooklyn, everyone chattered excitedly about all the stuff they were going to do now that Queens G service was being restored.

Only it wasn’t. That was a one-time thing. By the following Saturday, the usual termination at Court Square was in force.

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Jason A June 30, 2008 - 9:41 am

I agree with Bart, in that there is a huge “Chicken or the Egg” problem with G service. The big reason why G service is not robust at off hours is precisely b/c the train has a such a poor reputation for reliability and consistency. No one takes it b/c every one knows it’s such a dog of a train.

Considering the explosive growth in between North and South Brooklyn, it’s maddening that the MTA is not looking to aggressively expand G service. Treading water at this point is not status quo – it’s going backwards…

(I should clarify and say, it’s maddening that Albany is not securing the funding the MTA needs to meet this obvious demand…)

The reality is, nothing is going to get done with the MTA provided it continues to labor under its crippling 1990s debt. Expect more and more announcements of broken promises and service retractions. The G is only the beginning of a darker future for the MTA…


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