Home New York City Transit What future the G train

What future the G train

by Benjamin Kabak

Of all the guff given out by New Yorkers directed at the subway system, none is worse than the ire those who rely on the G have for that train. The IND Crosstown line is the rare subway line that doesn’t enter Manhattan, and thanks to the stubbornness of history, it doesn’t provide the right transfers for Manhattan-bound trains, missing Atlantic/Pacific by a few hundred feet. With short trains and stations in need of repair, it has earned its Ghost Train nickname.

Yet, despite its reputation, my personal experiences with the G train have been as expected. At rush hour, the train runs every 6-8 minutes and never more frequently. While I sometimes have to wait longer than I’d prefer, the G is a pretty regular train that generally adheres to its schedule. It shares track only with the F at its southern end, and thus, it doesn’t have to deal with too many delays caused by switching priorities. It’s convenient and relatively fast for a ride that would otherwise take too long or cost over $20 in a cab.

Someone though is always trying to do something with the G train. It once ran to Forest Hills, and now it does not. It currently heads south to Church Ave., but even that sensible and useful extension is in jeopardy. A few petitions and some vocal politicians are working to ensure that the five-stop extension of the G train made necessary for the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation becomes a permanent one. My money — and hopefully the MTA’s — is on this movement becoming successful.

Yet, despite the bad reputation, the G is showing some serious signs of ridership growth. Take a look at its improvements in 2011 as compared with 2010:

Branch Station 2011 Ridership % Change from 2010
Crosstown Fulton St (G) 1,179,034 +7.30%
Crosstown Clinton-Washington Avs (G) 1,628,558 +7.33%
Crosstown Classon Av (G) 1,308,232 +8.33%
Crosstown Bedford-Nostrand Avs (G) 2,012,606 +6.20%
Crosstown Myrtle-Willoughby Avs (G) 1,383,197 +13.06%
Crosstown Flushing Av (G) 616,083 +11.26%
Crosstown Broadway (G) 995,856 +5.80%
Crosstown Nassau Av (G) 2,396,169 +12.67%
Crosstown Greenpoint Av (G) 2,490,286 +13.16%
Crosstown 21 St (G) 364,597 +13.94%

That’s growth that far outpaces the overall 2.26 percent bump in annual subway rides. The stations that service Greenpoint, meanwhile, rank in the top 44 of all Brooklyn subway stations, and Carroll St. and 7th Ave., shared with the F along the Culver line, witnessed jumps of over 15 percent as well. It’s hard to isolate out the number of F riders there as opposed to those waiting for the G, but the line is becoming popular.

So what is the MTA to do? Nothing shows the G train’s increased popularity more so that a late-night wait at Metropolitan Ave. as the platform fills up. Nothing shows the G train’s problems as the mad dash people make to reach the center of the platform as the short train zooms by. The two concerns, then, as noted yesterday in this space, focus around transfers and train length. The MTA, if it won’t increase the frequency of the G train, should lengthen the train sets.

The authority must also ascertain what impact a heavily utilized G train will have on transfer points. After all, most people are taking the G to get to another subway line that connects with Manhattan (although some use it to reach Court Square in Queens or the Pratt campus in Brooklyn). As ridership increases, those transfer points will see crowds swell as well.

Once upon a time, the G was the butt of all jokes, but it’s shedding this reputation. It’s not quite yet overcrowded but as its areas grow, ridership will continue to climb. Maybe it’s time to pay attention to the IND Crosstown line, that little G train that could.

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Alex C April 10, 2012 - 1:17 am

Considering the Queens Boulevard IND CBTC project coming up soon enough, the CBTC test track on the northbound express track between Church and 4 Ave, the G’s low requirement for train sets, and the IND Crosstown connecting the two sites, the MTA could actually use the IND Crosstown as a CBTC test bed.

Marc Shepherd April 10, 2012 - 7:55 am

The fact that riders need to “make a mad dash” to the center of the platform is no reason to lengthen the G trains. The only good reason is if the trains are beyond their loading guidelines.

Otherwise, it would be a waste of money, leeching resources from more useful ways of expanding transit service.

BoerumHillScott April 10, 2012 - 8:10 am

I think better signs letting people know exactly where the G will be stopping on the platform would go a long way to making it a better experience while also balancing the load between the cars.

Al D April 10, 2012 - 9:31 am

Agreed. Paint the section of the platform where the G stops the G green. With OPTO stopping at a different point, then paint 2 shades of green and then write ‘G train stops here weekends’ and ‘G train stops here weekdays’.

Alek April 10, 2012 - 10:41 am

At Court Square they got signs saying the M stops at the center of the platform. Why they can’t do similar thing with the G?

Kai B April 11, 2012 - 1:13 pm

There are a few – but they’re usually not very noticeable. “Center” is also pretty vague as they often stop much closer to one end than the other.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 10:47 pm

I like that idea. Except that the weekday and weekend stopping positions should be the same. Have you submitted it to the MTA? I wonder if they’d go for it.

Jacob April 10, 2012 - 8:13 am

As someone who lived off the G train exclusively, I have a couple off things to add. First, downtown Brooklyn is a pretty major destination for many people, and it is well served by the G. Also, you mentioned missed connections at Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. There are also some close-but-not-quite connections in Queens. For instance, if you try to go from Bed Stuy to Astoria on the weekend, you need to transfer to the 7, go one stop and then transfer again to the N or R trains. During the week, this is slightly easier when you can transfer to the M at Court Square, but you always need 2 transfers to get to the N. The Court Square improvements help a lot to make the connection to the 7, but there are still big inconveniences in that area, which make a lot of useful trips quite inconvenient.

BoerumBum April 10, 2012 - 9:18 am

YES! A two seat, outer-borough connection from Brooklyn to Astoria would be AMAZING!!!

Emilio April 10, 2012 - 1:20 pm

Plus, the G used to have its northern terminal in Queens Plaza on weekends. After 75 years, the MTA decided that was too complicated, and now the G train ends in Court Square. The difference is huge: now you have to walk 700 feet between platforms. Before, if you were headed to Queens, the G would stop on the local tracks in QP. Now it’s 700 feet; on a weekday it’s an inconvenient schlep, on the weekend it’s a guarantee that I at least will take the F train between Queens and Brooklyn since it’s a one-seat ride.

Kai B April 10, 2012 - 8:19 am

A couple of ideas that I have that aren’t mass expenditures:

1) Clearer marking of where trains stop. It’s rare to even find a “trains stop in the center of the platform” sign these days and it’s not always the center of the platform.

2) Stop trains in the same spot on weekdays and weekends. In many stops this isn’t the case due to OPTO on the weekend.

3) Install more simple “train arriving” signs at station entrances that don’t have them. This should cut down on “dashes”. Maybe even splurge on the digital ones that calculate stations away such as the experiment on the 8th Ave line uptown.

4) PA system. This was promised a few years ago but most stations other than those that intersect other lines still don’t have any communication possibilities in the event of delays.

OK, now we’re starting to get more expensive, but another step:

5) Reopen closed entrances such as what was done with the South Portland Street exit at Fulton St. Stations with entrances/exits only at one end inherently seem more sketchy/dark.

Overall I like the G-train. It makes it very convenient for me to avoid Manhattan on the weekends (I see that borough enough during weekdays) and travel from Greenpoint to Downtown, Park Slope, and even Coney Island (the later via a simple same-platform transfer to the F).

Tsuyoshi April 10, 2012 - 8:56 am

I would argue that the number one obstacle to higher G ridership, aside from the development along the route that hasn’t happened yet, is lack of connections. The Court Square connection is a big improvement. The next, even bigger improvement should be a connection to Atlantic. A connection to the J/M would also help. With these connections we could convert a 3- or 4-seat ride to Williamsburg from many places (unless you go into Manhattan) into a 2-seat ride.

Benjamin Kabak April 10, 2012 - 9:18 am

The biggest obstacles to a connection between Atlantic/Pacific and the G train are cost and infrastructure. Such a connection would involve a tunnel of approximately 600 feet underneath BAM and around the Atlantic Yards area. It’s not quite as easy as all that.

Al D April 10, 2012 - 9:41 am

The thing about all these conenctions is that they’re a moot point for people with unlimited ride cards.

Benjamin Kabak April 10, 2012 - 9:43 am

Yes and no. Sure, I can use my unlimited ride card to transfer lines whenever I want, but for convenience and ease of use, in-system transfers trump the unlimited MetroCard transfer.

Josh April 10, 2012 - 12:40 pm

What is the reason for the MTA not simply making a free above-ground transfer between the G and the JM at Hewes, and between the G and Atlantic/Pacficic? Wouldn’t this cost zero dollars to implement and make a few people in the outerboroughs happy for a change?

Josh April 10, 2012 - 2:53 pm

Feel the silence. Seriously, does anyone know why this isn’t the case?

Eric April 10, 2012 - 3:07 pm

The MTA hates South Williamsburg?

Seriously, I don’t know.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 10:56 pm

Yes, that must be it. Every neighborhood in the city aside from South Williamsburg has lots and lots of out-of-system transfers; it’s only South Williamsburg that doesn’t have any.

Eric April 11, 2012 - 10:43 am

I was being facetious.

Bolwerk April 11, 2012 - 4:15 pm

South Williamsburg has one of the few that makes sense.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 10:55 pm

Because out-of-system transfers let people make two trips for a single fare. (That’s a particular issue in commercial areas like Atlantic/Pacific.) Out-of-system transfers are only implemented where service changes have cut off connections. Changing that policy would open the floodgates to out-of-system transfers all across the city, not only in the neighborhoods that readers of this blog are interested in.

Besides, those walks are not short. Just as the 63rd/Lex free out-of-system transfer is unpopular because of all the walking, these transfers would also be unpopular. So the MTA would lose fare revenue for minimal gain.

Josh April 11, 2012 - 12:27 am

I don’t understand this logic. You’re saying a lot of people would abuse this by taking the G, hanging out around Atlantic/Pacific for a couple hours, then continuing on their way on the Q or whatever? That doesn’t seem like a loophole a lot of people would be able to abuse–fewer than would be able to use it for legitimate purposes, at least. That alone isn’t reason to not make it available to those who would legitimately use it.

No floodgates would be opened. The “slippery slope” argument is nonsense. The two locations I mentioned are areas along the G, the redheaded stepchild of the system, that could use a break. I’d be curious to know A) where else in the system lines run so close, and B) what you think would happen if above-ground transfers occurred at these points. And how could these new theoretical transfers be “unpopular”–you’re giving something for free where something formerly didn’t exist. You either like it or ignore it. Unpopular doesn’t enter into it.

Andrew April 11, 2012 - 8:25 am

No, I’m saying that a lot of people will take the train (any train) to Atlantic/Pacific, go shopping, and get back on the train (any train) to go back home or wherever else, and they won’t be charged a fare. (The turnstiles have no way of knowing if you’re actually making a transfer.)

Much as advocates like to insist otherwise, the G isn’t a “redheaded stepchild” of anything. It’s subject to the same policies and guidelines as every other line. (It runs short trains because it only needs short trains to satisfy demand; it was cut back to Court Square because the overwhelming majority of Queens Blvd. local riders are going to Manhattan, not Brooklyn, and, once the capacity was available into Manhattan, it didn’t make sense to run half of the locals straight to Brooklyn.) And what do you propose the MTA’s policy be changed to? “No new out-of-system transfers except for redheaded stepchilds”?

The connections you’re proposing aren’t close at all – the one to Atlantic/Pacific would easily be the longest transfer walk in the system, far longer than the one G riders like to complain about at Court Square. As for other potential transfers – how about the IND at Jay to the IRT at Hoyt? How about the BMT at City Hall to the IRT at Park Place? How about the BMT at Prince to the IND at Broadway-Lafayette? How about the BMT/IRT at Queensboro Plaza to the IND at Queens Plaza? Probably most useful of all, if a somewhat longer walk, how about the 6 at Hunts Point to the 2 at Simpson, allowing Pelham line riders access to the West Side?

Long walks most certainly make transfers unpopular – again, look at 63rd/Lex, which most potential users avoid by transferring elsewhere. The same would apply here – most of the people benefiting from the “transfer” would be round trip customers who happen to fall into the 2-hour window.

Eric April 11, 2012 - 9:59 am

What did the G train do to you?

Andrew April 11, 2012 - 7:15 pm

Excuse me for being realistic.

By the way, I left out one potential transfer that’s often mentioned – between the L and the 3 in East New York – which would really open up unserved markets. I’m not convinced they’re very large markets, in part due to the length of the walk, at least they’re new.

Phantom April 10, 2012 - 12:49 pm

For the huge majority of riders, the unlimited ride cards make no sense at all.

Benjamin Kabak April 10, 2012 - 12:55 pm

That’s not true at all. Any commuter with a job who also uses the subways a few times on the weekend should buy unlimited cards. Plus, they account for 48.6 percent of all MetroCard sales so people are buying them.

Phantom April 10, 2012 - 1:40 pm


What is the source for that number?

And I’d like to know exactly how that 48.6% was arrived at.

I think that a lot of people stopped using the unlimited cards with the last fare increase. You really need to know your plans for the week / 30 days in advance in order to know if it will work for you at all.

Benjamin Kabak April 10, 2012 - 1:54 pm

The source is the committee books for the last Transit Committee meeting. Check out page 111 of this pdf.

My numbers were slightly off. The 48.6% was for Jan. 2011. For Jan. 2012, the total was 47.2%.

I think you’re overstating the breakeven point a bit. For a 30-day card, if you ride 50 times, you should get an unlimited card. That’s 1.6 rides per day. But on the other hand, around 30 percent of unlimited card users don’t reach that point if I recall correctly.

Phantom April 10, 2012 - 2:10 pm

I am amazed that the percentage is that high

They say it is based on ” Fare Media Market Share ”

But what is that based on?

The perentage of rides ( which would skew it to the unlimited cards presumbably )

Or the percentage of dollars spent for rides ( which would I think be more fair a standard )

Bolwerk April 11, 2012 - 4:24 pm

FWIW, unlimiteds are widely considered best practice in the transit world because of low transaction costs, encouraging offpeak usage, and the flexibility they offer passengers.

If people aren’t using them to their full potential, that’s a problem with their decisionmaking and planning. I know I use mine probably considerably more than the TA would want me to, but I don’t really mind those odd times I screw up because of a trip out of town. Flexibility and not having to worry is just nice.

Al D April 10, 2012 - 4:17 pm

Yes you do. I plan on working working working and working for most of the next 30 days!

Al D April 10, 2012 - 4:18 pm

FYI, wrong level and in response to Phantom

Phantom April 10, 2012 - 4:31 pm

There are plenty of people, myself included, who don’t always work in the one fixed location.

If there are a couple of short business trips in a 30 day period, or if I want to take a few days off, the economics of the unlimited MetroCard doesn’t make sense at all.

There are advantages to the pay per ride card – in that you gain time flexibility. There will be months when I pay more than I would have with an Unlimited Card, but over time, it’s the cheapest way for me.

I’d think that many Unlimited card holders are leaving money on the table when they do the numbers.

John-2 April 10, 2012 - 12:44 pm

The city and the MTA should have made Bruce Rattner put in the tunnel, in conjunction with the Atlatic Yards project, in the same way Citicorp put in the Court Square/23rd-Ely connection in Long Island City (which benefitted the MTA greatly, if not northwest Brooklyn and Queens customers, by allowing the MTA to cut the G back to Court Square and replace it with the V along Queens Blvd.).

It would still be a long transfer for A/C/G riders to the rest of the system, but it would finally give the IND in downtown Brooklyn the transfer flexibility that the original planners never allowed with the BMT and IRT lines, and could have been done at virtually no cost to the MTA, which already was working with Rattner as part of the his complex and the Barclay’s Center project at the Atlantic Ave.-Pacific St. stations.

BoerumBum April 10, 2012 - 1:26 pm

Good call, John-2

BoerumHillScott April 10, 2012 - 3:29 pm

I’m not sure how practical it would be to connect to the G to Atlantic Pacific, since you would also have to cross the A/C tracks.

The shortest/easiest passageway to construct would be from the unmanned Q/B north mezzanine, east under Hanson Place, curving 90 degrees north under Fort Green Place, under the A/C tracks and tie into the Cross under at the G Fulton Station. This passageway would be around 370 yards long, which I believe would be the longest in the system.

This passageway would be very inconvenient for anyone not wanting the B/Q platform.
I don’t know how you work a more convenient transfer into that complex without ripping up the LIRR ticketing area, bathrooms, and elevator.

In any case, I don’t think there is any way that FCR would have agreed to fund the transfer. This is nothing like the Court Square/23rd-Ely or Lexington/53rd transfers that were essentially built into the basements of buildings under construction.

BoerumBum April 10, 2012 - 3:42 pm

What about two hallways connecting the Hoyt (2,3) station to the two adjacent stations, Hoyt-Schermerhorn to the south and Metrotech to the northeast?

BoerumHillScott April 10, 2012 - 3:55 pm

Hoyt is one level below the street and does not have a cross under. If there is a closed cross under that could be used, the project should be feasible from from an engineering perspective, although the total passageway would be very long and the the fare control area and probably police substation at Hoyt-Schermerhorn would have to be redone.

In terms of cost, the transfer between Jay Street and Lawrence was very short and cost $160 million.
I would not be shocked if a passage connecting those three stations came in at close to $1 billion, especially if any real work has to be done under the 2/3/4/5 tracks.

Dan April 11, 2012 - 12:13 am

And a 2/3/R transfer is redundant since Borough Hall and Atlantic/Pacific already offer them (plus to the 4/5).

BoerumBum April 11, 2012 - 10:24 am

The idea was to allow a Brooklyn linkage from the A & F to the 2 & 3, along with the G & C to the 2 & 3. The fact that these lines are so close at Hoyt and don’t connect is really embarassing. Don’t you agree, Dan?

Andrew April 11, 2012 - 7:21 pm

Hoyt-Schermerhorn has a long-closed passageway to Livingston, which covers nearly half the distance to the 2/3.

The Jay connection would be a bit more challenging, since, as you point out, it’s the IND part that makes for the more useful transfer, and that’s farther away. Also, with a connection to Hoyt-Schermerhorn already in place, the 2/3 would already have a connection to the A/C, so Jay would only add the F to the mix.

John-2 April 10, 2012 - 11:04 pm

I’d think any tunnel would be a downstairs connection from the A/C platforms, going under both tracks, and which would then eventually link up with the mezzanine of the B/Q Atlantic Avenue station, and from there to the rest of the complex (though like I said, it would have been nicer if the MTA had been chatting about this with Mr. Rattner about 7-8 years ago, when the complex was still in its planning stages and the connection could have been factored into the project).

Eric April 10, 2012 - 9:34 am

Why are we talking about obstacles to higher G ridership when the numbers indicate that higher ridership is actually occurring?

Eric April 10, 2012 - 9:36 am

I actually don’t notice many people waiting for the G in the wrong spot. The issue with the “G train dash” is that it makes you feel like you’re in a broken city. The ridership doesn’t necessitate a full 8-car train, but there should be a serious examination of the feasibility of getting 6-car trains back onto the G. Another few years of this kind of ridership growth and the G will be miserably crowded.

Kai B April 10, 2012 - 1:33 pm

Isn’t most rolling stock now configured to sets of four though?

Eric April 10, 2012 - 2:53 pm

I’m not sure, but that sounds right. But they used to run 6 cars on the G, and they could do it again.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 11:01 pm

If trains are overloaded at certain times of day, running more frequent service at those times is the best way to address that.

Running 6-car trains will trigger an immediate frequency reduction at other times. And one of the reasons for switching to 4-car trains was that the transition from 6-car weekday service to 4-car weekend service (for OPTO) on Friday night and back on Monday morning was messy.

Al D April 10, 2012 - 9:49 am

The G is very reliable and since they’re so infrequent in the mornings, I always check the schedule so I know when to leave to meet it. The G needs another n/b train set in the late morning (arriving Court Sq 8:50 – 9:00) rush because that little 4 car train gets very crowded at that time, as crowded as the L and the Lex.

Benjamin April 10, 2012 - 11:01 am

The problem with the G train isn’t the length of the train, it’s the connections and their timing. The late night schedule is especially shitty — the G train leaves Hoyt-Schermerhorn about five minutes before the Queens-bound A is scheduled to arrive there, leaving the only convenient cross-platform transfer to the G with a 15-minute wait every night. The L train transfer at Metropolitan has the same 15-minute wait for a Church-bound G (going to Greenpoint is actually perfect, about a 5 minute wait on average).

Even when it’s not late at night, at Hoyt-Schermerhorn I’ve only seen the A train hold for a cross-platform connection once or twice. They’re pretty good about A-F at Jay, but terrible at Hoyt.

For a train whose effectiveness is so dependent upon transfers, there are a lot of pretty simple timing improvements that shouldn’t cost anything, that can go into place long before we talk about building a gigantic tunnel in downtown Brooklyn for the G (which sounds like it would be worse than the LFM-123 transfer at 14th Street, which I am usually willing to make an extra transfer to avoid).

The only way to make the G really effective is to hook it up to the Court St IND stop, and then connect the IND stop to the 2nd Ave Subway when it’s finished. But for the next hundred years, they need to run more trains and time them right.

Mike April 10, 2012 - 11:13 am

Anyone who thinks the G Train is not overcrowded has never tried to catch one at Court Square during PM rush, when the trains (and, dangerously and all-too-often, the platforms) are consistently way over capacity. As someone who lives on the Williamsburg/Greenpoint border and takes the G from Nassau Av. to Court Sq. (and back) every weekday, I can confirm that simply lengthening to 8 trains would make my life much easier.

Eric April 10, 2012 - 1:28 pm

Same thing at Metropolitan Avenue. I still don’t understand why the southbound G stops in a position whereby everyone has to squeeze up one staircase.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 11:05 pm

Really? They’re constantly way over capacity? They’re carrying way more than 175 people per car? Because that’s the capacity of an R68.

Or do you mean seated capacity? Every line carries more than a seated load during rush hours. Even off-peak trains are now scheduled to carry 25% more than a seated load.

Running 8-car trains would cause headways to jump to 10 minutes at best. Is that really what you want?

Eric April 11, 2012 - 10:03 am

Do you ever ride the G? Yes, it is frequently extremely crowded. Like, people can’t get on crowded.

Andrew April 11, 2012 - 7:25 pm

Any line will have occasional very-crowded trains – e.g., if there’s been a significant delay in service. And it’s not uncommon for the G to have heavily loaded end cars. Nor is it uncommon for standees to block the doorways – making it difficult for more people to get on – while there’s plenty of space further inside.

But none of that makes the G overcrowded.

Again, if there are times of day when the G is overcrowded, additional trains should be added at those times. Running 8-car trains is excessive and would cause wait times to shoot up.

Eric April 12, 2012 - 2:00 pm

Who’s talking about running 8-car trains on the G?

Andrew April 12, 2012 - 7:00 pm


Alex C April 13, 2012 - 12:51 am

I used to attend Brooklyn Tech. I don’t know how things are now, but back in my days there, the G was an overcrowded mess in the rush hours north of Hoyt. With the shown increases in ridership and the G running to Church, having the G run as 6-car trains of R46’s sounds like a good idea (AA-ABBA, so they’d need the AA sets). Moving those R46s to Coney Island Yard is another thing.

crosstownlocal April 10, 2012 - 11:18 am

does anyone know why/when the Grand Street exit at Metropolitan Avenue was closed? or why their “rehab” of the south mezzanine at Metropolitan Ave just resulted in the closing of half the station? it would seem that reopening this entrance could *greatly* improve accessiblity to the station, given the explosion of bars and restaurants down from Grand & Union Ave.

Kai B April 10, 2012 - 11:38 am

From my understanding this was around 2000. The renovation made the police station full-width, closing off the south half of the mezzanine (and of course the stairwells were walled and gated).

Here are some relatively-recent photos:

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 11:13 pm

The station rehab was probably designed when high crime was still a major concern and one of the solutions was to close off relatively lightly used entrances.

I’d love to see that entrance reopened.

Kid Twist April 10, 2012 - 11:27 am

I think they should close the Hewes and Lorimer streets stations on the Broadway El and replace them with one stop in between at Union Avenue to facilite transfers between the G and the J, M and Z trains. I also think this is politically impossible.

Eric April 10, 2012 - 3:07 pm

“Politically impossible”? Why?

Benjamin Kabak April 10, 2012 - 3:11 pm

You try proposing closing a subway station in New York City and watch what happens now. No one with a modicum of oversight over the process will allow it.

Eric April 10, 2012 - 3:18 pm

But we’re not talking about closing a subway station, we’re talking about replacing two subway stations that are a five-minute walk about with a new station in the middle.

Kai B April 10, 2012 - 3:51 pm

I believe the “impossibility” would be that there would be vocal residents wouldn’t want to walk the extra three blocks or so.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 11:18 pm

And why should they? Even ignoring the costs of building a new station (and transfer connection), do you have any reason to believe that the benefits of the transfer outweigh the increased access time for existing users of the two stations?

How many people would use this transfer who can’t already get where they’re going by transferring elsewhere?

Eric April 11, 2012 - 10:10 am

You could build a replacement station with entrances/exits on both ends that would make the walk for former Hewes/Lorimer riders about a block and a half longer. The trip would be a little faster as well, as the train would no longer have to make two stops.

I’m not saying this is any kind of priority, but it’s not a crazy idea.

Andrew April 11, 2012 - 7:29 pm

The distance from the existing entrances at Hewes and Lorimer to the closest possible entrances at this proposed station is greater than a block and a half.

Again, who would use this transfer who doesn’t already have other similar transfer opportunities? And are there so many of them that it’s worth increasing access time for existing riders AND spending money to build a station and close Hewes and Lorimer?

Feel free to prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

Eric April 12, 2012 - 2:04 pm

It’s not greater than a block and a half, I checked. Did you?

I imagine that many G riders from stops south and north of a proposed Union Ave/Broadway complex would use the connection to transfer to a Manhattan-bound M instead of transferring to the E/M at Court Sq or the A/C at Hoyt.

If the G ridership continues to increase at the 2011 pace, Manhattan-bound trains are going to become more overcrowded than they already are. And there’s a lot of slack on the M.

Andrew April 12, 2012 - 6:54 pm

It’s four blocks along Broadway from Hooper to Union and three blocks from Lorimer to Union.

What’s wrong with the existing transfers at Court Sq and Hoyt that the people who use them need a new way to get to the same place they already go?

There’s no such thing as a Manhattan-bound G.

Eric April 12, 2012 - 9:31 pm

I meant the Manhattan-bound transfers. All except for the M are currently at crush capacity. And yes, G riders can transfer to the M at Court Square, but it’s a horrible transfer and the crowds there are getting out-of-control.

I think you should look at a map again, taking into consideration the current exits of Hewes and Lorimer and possible configurations of a new elevated Union Avenue station.

Andrew April 15, 2012 - 12:16 pm

The distance between exits at Hewes and Lorimer is 7 blocks. The length of a station is about 2 blocks. Placing the new station midway between these two exits still leaves each end 2.5 blocks from an old exit. Shifting it closer to one old station brings it further away from the other. There is no way to situate a 2-block-long station so that each end is no more than 1.5 blocks from an existing station exit when those existing station exits are 7 blocks apart. It’s mathematically impossible.

“Crush capacity” is a technical term – it means that it’s physically impossible for a single additional person to board. It’s not synonymous with “crowded.” No subway line operates at crush capacity for any sustained period of time. Crush loads occur – on some lines more than other – for short periods of time following service disruptions.

The guideline capacity of a subway car is 110 for IRT cars, 145 for 60 foot IND/BMT cars, and 175 for 75 foot IND/BMT cars. At those levels, trains are crowded but far from crush loaded.

The L is overloaded by this standard, but more service is being added to the L this summer to bring it back within the guideline. The E is close but has a bit of capacity of spare. The other lines all have plenty of capacity to absorb G riders, even with substantial G growth.

There are some interesting tables at – look at pages 65-72.

Eric April 15, 2012 - 12:50 pm

Yes, I am aware what crush capacity means, which is why I used the term. I have been at Court Square and at Hoyt many times in the mornings and literally one more person cannot board the A/C or E trains. It is not as consistently bad as the L (at least not on the A/C), but the problem does exist.

But okay, maybe I meant “crush load” instead.

We’ll have to agree to disagree on a Union Avenue station, because you’re not telling me what placement you’re having this station at, or what exits at Hewes and Lorimer you’re using to base this on. At any rate, 1.5 or 2.5 blocks really isn’t a significant difference.

Andrew April 17, 2012 - 7:25 pm

No, you don’t understand what crush capacity means. Click on the link in my last post – you can see that, in 2010, virtually all lines carried loads well below guideline, and the guideline is well below crush capacity. Unless ridership has doubled since 2010 (and it hasn’t), there’s simply no way the A or C or E is actually crush loaded. They’re crowded, and it’s difficult to fit onto a train if people are blocking the doors, but they’re not crush loaded. If there’s a severe service disruption, the first train to come in may be legitimately crush loaded, but there’s probably an emptier one right behind it. (If the trains were all really, truly crush loaded, why would anybody bother waiting for them, knowing that it would be impossible to fit onto any of them?)

I’m basing my Union discussion on the actual exits at Hewes and Lorimer that exist today. The only exit currently open at Hewes (despite the name) is at Hooper, and the only exit currently open at Lorimer is at Lorimer. It’s 7 blocks from Hooper to Lorimer.

Analyses of potential new transit facilities or services often yield results measured in seconds. An increase in station access time of about 3 minutes for many current users of the two stations you propose to be closed would certainly weigh quite heavily in the analysis.

Eric April 18, 2012 - 10:52 am

I’m sure if we were grabbing a beer we’d continue to have a great conversation about this, but we’re not, so I’m going to bow out.

Matthias April 10, 2012 - 3:51 pm

You need to use the word “consolidate” instead of “close”. Still, this would certainly inconvenience some passengers.

Frank B April 10, 2012 - 4:19 pm

The closest example of closing two stations relatively close to one another, and replacing them with a new, centralized station would be in Staten Island, where they are eliminating Nassau and Atlantic stations and replacing them with a new “Arthur Kill Road” Station. Different since its Staten Island and all, and ridership is low, but it would be interesting to see what happens there. Apparently the people have no objections, but again, it is Staten Island.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 11:23 pm

Almost everybody in Staten Island (especially that far south) has a car, and the proposed Arthur Kill Road has a 150-car parking lot.

Williamsburg is a different world.

Al D April 10, 2012 - 4:26 pm

Lorimer St is central to Lindsay Park Houses and is a critical stop for the Chinese-Americans going back and forth to Chinatown. Can you say John Liu?

Hewes is kind of a throw away stop because it is so close to Marcy, and considering that only the M stops there peak direction rush hours. STILL, I agree with the others, ain’t gonna happen. Plenty of people still use Hewes for their own reasons.

Rick April 10, 2012 - 3:09 pm

The G train should enter Manhattan at 60th St, which would relieve crowding on the L train. This could be accomplished without new construction (except for a switch track north of Queens Plaza) by bringing the G into Queens Plaza and then reversing its direction down the R line into Manhattan. The existing R would enter Manhattan through the 63rd tunnel, along with the F. The Manhattan-bound M would cross onto the E track north of Queens Plaza.

BoerumBum April 10, 2012 - 3:19 pm

An interesting idea… where would the N & R lines zipper back together? (Not a devil’s advocate question, just curious)

Eric April 10, 2012 - 4:30 pm

If you ran the R via the 63rd Street tunnel, I don’t think there would be a way to get the N/R on the same trackage again until Brooklyn. So you’d have to switch the N to service lower Manhattan and run the R across the bridge.

If the G went into Manhattan via the 60th Street tunnel, it would have to run down Broadway–where would you turn it around? 57th Street?

Evan April 10, 2012 - 4:51 pm

The R could meet back up with the Broadway Line after 63rd and Lex. There’s a track connection to 57th and 7th (NRQ stop).

Eric Brasure April 10, 2012 - 6:40 pm

Ah, good point. I forgot about that track connection. Running the G/N/Q/R might make the Broadway line too crowded, though.

Eric April 10, 2012 - 3:20 pm

Unfeasible. The driver would have to walk the length of the train back to the now-front. It would cause chaos.

Rick April 10, 2012 - 9:54 pm

No, the driver would walk to the back of the Queens Plaza station for the NEXT G train. A new motorman would be waiting in the front to board each G train that entered Queens Plaza.

The G and N trains would run down the Broadway local track. (The G would turn north at Whitehall St, the N woukd enter Brooklyn in the Montagye St tunnel.) The R and Q trains would run down the Broadway express tracks — the Q (hopefully) feeding in from the new Second Av line. The R and the Q would enter Brooklyn over the Manhattan Bridge.

Al D April 10, 2012 - 4:31 pm

What’s really needed is a 23 St crosstown subway. And hey, it can even go to NJ! Now, we can have it all in 1 big mega project! Get the G to Manhattan, have it go left after Greenpoint, who cares about Van Alst anyway. And Court Sq? Serves Citi right for trusting the MTA! Cancel the M23, Schleppy of the Decade, to hey with +SBS+ on 23 St, that tired ol’ Limited on ‘roids. Send it to Secaucus via the NJ Palisades, stops on Kennedy/Bergenline, hook it up with the trolley, too!

(Yes, it’s been a long day…) 😉

Eric April 10, 2012 - 4:37 pm

Hey, a 23rd Street Crosstown that connects to the G right before Greenpoint Avenue and splits off to run down Metropolitan and the Van Wyck out to JFK is my bad idea! 😉

BoerumBum April 10, 2012 - 4:49 pm

Ooh, bad capital plan game! This could be fun!

Extend the G train to the northwest in Queens (yes, new linkages and burrowing down under a thousand other lines… how hard could it be?), then continue up 21st Street to 20th Ave, turn left, throw a stop on Randall’s Island for fun, and cross Manhattan on 110th St.

Joe Steindam April 11, 2012 - 7:18 am

My unrealistic idea map originally had a 23rd street subway (although it didn’t have a direct connection to the G). My new unrealistic idea map has a 34th street subway (I can dream right?) but it does have a track connection to the G. It’s always fun seeing that we all have a lot of the same ideas that will never come true.

Eric April 10, 2012 - 4:36 pm

The more I think about this, the less sense it makes. You’re just transferring the load to the Broadway corridor. It wouldn’t take any load off the L– people would take it in lieu of transferring to the E/M at Court Sq.

Unless you can find somewhere to turn the G around after Union Square. But then people are making a big loop for no real reason.

Andrew April 10, 2012 - 11:39 pm

What you call a “switch track” is actually known as a crossover. It requires two switches and a short piece of connecting track. Adding a new crossover involves lots of very expensive and disruptive track work, lots of very expensive and disruptive signal work, and lots of very expensive and disruptive structural work (to remove columns to make space for the crossover).

And you’d need two crossovers, one for each direction.

Your plan would also require new signaling for the reverse direction on the two tracks between Court Square and Queens Plaza – another major expense. Northbound and southbound G’s would have to cross paths south of Court Square, which would lead to delays. And it takes a few minutes to reverse a train. Riders would very quickly find that they were better off transferring at Court Square. The service would be unattractive, and all of the crossing and reversing and merging would make it unreliable. And it would bounce R riders out of the tunnel they prefer, cutting them off from a major transfer point.

In other words, this would be a very expensive way to give a lot of people much worse service than they have today. (How could it even possibly have any effect on L crowding? The L is nowhere near Queens Plaza. If you want to relieve L crowding, run more L trains.)

And what do you do when SAS opens and the W comes back?

If there’s anywhere that we need new crossovers, it’s north of Broadway-Lafayette.

Lee April 11, 2012 - 1:03 am

No folks….what we really need is a new station to serve the edge of Greenpoint, a transfer at Vernon Jackson to the 7, and a new terminal station at Queens Plaza. There is abundant land to do this. The new G station would be adjacent to Queens Plaza. If you wanted to do a build out, consider having the G link with the LIRR tracks that go LIC to Jamaica to form the long awaited “super express” (I can’t see this happening, as people want a one seat fast trip, not a two-train fast trip.) Suppose you were able to link the tracks to the Queens Blvd lines, or, if as suggested, tunnel under the existing tracks, link it to the 63rd street line.

As much as I’d like to see a new J/M transfer, the G at Broadway is in between the two J/M stations, so how would that work? Or would you use the existing station shells for a transfer?

Eric April 11, 2012 - 10:25 am

By the “edge of Greenpoint”, do you mean the northern end of Manhattan Avenue? The only way that could really work would be a new station north of Greenpoint Avenue with an entrance at, what, Ash Street, and a connection to Vernon-Jackson.

Then what, you just scrap 21st Street and Court Square?

Lee April 12, 2012 - 5:28 pm

I would indeed scrap 21st Van Alst. I would venture to say – and I have been taking the G for 20+ years – that it is one of the least-used stops in the system. I would say, yes, Ash Street is perfect place for a stop. The problem is that the area might qualify for EPA funds (or so it is rumored). V-Jax might be out of the question due to Court Square. But I am in favor of a new station at Queens Plaza. There is plenty of land to do it, and there would be minimum disruptions to businesses. Think the ghost station at 74/Roosevelt. A new G station would give direct access to the R as well as the E and M. As anyone can tell you, when 23rd/Ely gets crowded, its scary. The station has narrow platforms and was not built to handle that amount of people. Think what a new station could do for the area; think what a new station could mean in terms of future expansion: the Queens Super Express; maybe an extension to LGA; and it would put people to work.

Eric April 12, 2012 - 6:39 pm

Well if you believe Andrew, all those people at 23rd/Ely don’t exist, because no one rides the G train, so you must be hallucinating.

At any rate, a new station at Ash Street would mean a pretty long transfer to the 7 at Vernon-Jackson. Even if you positioned a station with one end right at Ash Street, the distance from the end of that platform (away from the entrance) to Vernon-Jackson would be something like 800′.

If you were going to do this, building a new G station in Long Island City with a direct transfer to the 7 and Vernon-Jackson and a new station at Queens Plaza, closing 21st Street and Court Square, would be the way to go.

But if you just want to expand the system, I think leaving things the way they are south of Court Square and tying the G into Sunnyside Yards with a new segment to LGA makes more sense.

But if we do ever get a subway to LGA, it’s not going to be the G, because it doesn’t enter Manhattan.

Andrew April 12, 2012 - 6:58 pm

Where did I say that no one rides the G train?

I said that the G is not “constantly way over capacity.” Capacity is 700 people per train.

Building a new G station in Long Island City would be a phenomenally wasteful expenditure of scarce capital funds.

Eric April 12, 2012 - 9:32 pm

“Building a new G station in Long Island City would be a phenomenally wasteful expenditure of scarce capital funds.”

We agree on something!

Lee April 20, 2012 - 3:47 pm

I’m sorry. What I meant to say is we need a new G station at the other end of the water – the edge of Greenpoint.

Juan Castillo April 11, 2012 - 3:17 pm

Don’t you all worry, ladies and gentlemen, we have not lost hope for the (G) Train extension just yet. The MTA may not have any more support and the money for keeping the (G) Trains running to/from Church Av, but there is still one more thing you have not been able to try out in a while. Make that two. I want you all to go to this website: http://www.change.org/petitions#search/G Train extension, in this site are two petitions that are related to the topic of “Preserving the (G) Train extension”. 1 petition on top is in need of 7500 online signatures for the MTA headquarters, the petition on the bottom just needs 500 for Joe Lhota. If you can sign your name and location in each petition then spread the word about them by January 2013, we’ll be able to save the (G) Train extension and hopefully extend it back to Forest Hills-71st Av, Queens. Anybody agree with that?

Andrew April 11, 2012 - 8:30 pm

Sign a petition if it makes you happy, but it’s not going to have any impact on the G. The G will remain at Church if the MTA can find the operating funds to run it there (until the Culver project ends, it’s being capitally funded). If not, it won’t.

And the G won’t be going back to Forest Hills. Sorry. On weekdays there isn’t enough capacity, and on weekends it would be knocked out by GO’s most of the time anyway (as it was from 2001 to 2010).


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