On December 17, 2001, the V train made its first controversial run from Queens to Manhattan. Nearly five months earlier, on July 23, 2001, the W had made its first run from Brooklyn to Astoria via the Manhattan Bridge and the BMT Broadway line. Today marks a sad day in the history of those two trains as later this evening they will each run their last route before suffering at the hands of the MTA’s planned service cuts.
On Monday morning, the rush hour will be chaotic. Subway riders in Astoria will see the Q arrive instead of the W, and while the N will make local stops in Manhattan, the Q as the W’s replacement will still run express along Broadway. Meanwhile, those in Middle Village will be even more confused when their M trains go from Essex St. to Broadway/Lafayette via the Chrystie St. Cut. Along Queens Boulevard, the V train will be a part of New York subway history, lost to a budget crisis and a lack of funding from Albany.
For many New Yorkers, the deaths of these train lines will be unnoticed. V riders will hop the M without a second thought, and while some Brooklyn riders from Bay Parkway will miss the M, most people will go about their subway-riding lives with nary a thought to it. But for others, the deaths of these subway lines means funeral.
One Astoria resident is hosting a remembrance of the W train tonight. Bill Reese is celebrating the “short, complicated and often pathetic life of our beloved W.” At 10 p.m., he and other W train riders will gather at Ditmars Boulevard to ride the last W train to Union Square. They’ll hop the return train — the ultimate W to head to Astoria — before celebrating at the beer garden. It is a wake fit for a train, and rumor has it that the organizer will be decked out in W train paraphernalia.
Reese isn’t the only one mourning the death of subway lines. In fact, some politicians are exploiting the moment to gain the spotlight as well. Peter Vallone will join Transportation Alternatives at 8:30 this morning to ostensibly call for more transit funding. I’m surprised to see Vallone lend his name and face to this campaign as he hasn’t been very transit-friendly. Later in the day at 8:15 p.m., Transportation Alternatives will rally in Astoria for better transit before also heading to the beer garden. Service cuts make for strange bedfellows.
The V train too will be feted as NYCentric and Newmindspace, the creators of the hipster-haven that is the New York City pillow fight, have organized a final V train ride. Revelers will gather at Second Ave. before 11 to ride the last V train, set to arrive in Forest Hills at 12:11 a.m. Those who join are encouraged to wear orange.
As New Yorkers celebrate these trains, though, it’s important to remember that these service cuts are going to impact everyone. Some Bronx residents can’t get to the nearest pool. Others will find their neighborhood buses unceremoniously eliminated. Others will find longer waits and crowded trains during off-peak hours. Service cuts are unpleasant business.
One day, the MTA may restore service when its finances improve. Today, though, is a sad day for the millions of New Yorkers who depend upon the subways and buses to take them to work, school and fun. In a city so dependent upon transit, these cuts show just how ineffective our state government is. Will anyone be held accountable?
After the jump, some info about the final rides of the M, V and W trains in their current configurations.
The MTA sent out a bit of info about the final rides of the various trains. For straphangers and railfans looking to get in on the historical action, take note:
- The last W train is scheduled to leave Ditmars Boulevard at 10:17 p.m. It will continue to Brooklyn and arrive at its 86th St. destination at 11:30 p.m.
- The last Forest Hills-bound V train is expected to arrive at its Queens terminal at 12:11 a.m. Plan accordingly.
- The M will cease its Manhattan-bound service this evening as it does every Friday evening. When the morning rush begins on Monday, the train won’t head to Nassau St. or into Brooklyn. The first southbound orange M train will leave Forest Hills at 5:38 a.m., and the first northbound orange M will leave Metropolitan Ave. at 5:14 a.m. At around 5:40 or so, the first train in some time to use the Chrystie St. Cut will pass from Essex St. to the IND Sixth Ave. line.