Home Asides Promised line review a small step forward for the G train

Promised line review a small step forward for the G train

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the past few years, as G train ridership has grown, calls to improve service have as well. Lately, the Riders Alliance — an organization for which I sit on the board — with the support of State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malavé Dilan has urged politicians and the MTA to improve G train service, and after Squadron and Dilan requested that the transit agency at least give the line the courtesy of a review, the MTA will oblige.

As Reuven Blau of The Daily News reports today, the MTA has promised to conduct an examination of the G train. As it did with the F and L trains before, the MTA will try to assess the G experience while looking for ways to improve the line and attract more riders. While the station infrastructure along the IND Crosstown line leaves much to be desired, even some small fixes — such as free out-of-system transfers — could ease rider complaints. The MTA anticipates releasing the results of the line review at the end of June.

“G train riders spoke. Now, this Full Line Review will give us real answers to lead to real changes,” Squadron, an influential voice in Albany for transit, said. “Working together in the past, we’ve made dramatic improvements throughout the system — including first-of-their-kind Full Line Reviews that led to better F and L train service. The MTA deserves great credit for its willingness to continue working together toward the reliable service G train riders deserve. Thank you to Senator Dilan, our colleagues, and the Riders Alliance for their continued advocacy.”

Of course, as I’ve noted before, the G train suffers from a chicken-and-egg problem. By not investing in G train service, the MTA stifles ridership, but then, the agency points to low ridership as a reason for not investing in the service. If a study finds demand warrants more frequent trains, longer train sets or even these out-of-system transfers, hopefully, the MTA can find the money needed to improve service. As John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance said, “The MTA is severely underfunded and we know that. In the meantime, we want to identify common-sense solutions to make the train-riding experience better.” And if there’s one thing lacking from New York’s transit planning approach these days, it is common sense.

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41 comments

Alex C February 22, 2013 - 12:57 am

The one thing that would help the most is stable headways. As is, the F (rightfully so) taking priority means that headways vary vastly on the G, resulting in the subway equivalent of bus bunching being the scheduled norm; and then the pattern of packed-empty-empty G trains.

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Gorski February 22, 2013 - 9:06 am

Also, I’d be satisfied if, late nights, they managed to stagger the G a little better with the L so I wouldn’t always get to the Canarsie-bound platform right after the last L had left (with 20 minutes until the next one).

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John February 22, 2013 - 11:31 am

I agree. I find this happening to me a lot during midday service. Every single time the G arrives at Metropolitan, the L is pulling out of the station Rockaway Pkwy-bound and another one doesn’t come for 7 minutes. Not nearly as big of a deal as waiting 20 minutes late night, but I wish they could make these two trains sync up better.

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John-2 February 22, 2013 - 9:30 am

The one positive thing I will say about the TA’s old IND bias that started in the 1930s and lasted into the 1970s (and foisted a mindset that believed, for example, that Brighton riders really longed the Sixth Avenue line and didn’t want Broadway express service, post-Christie opening) is that the city’s favoritism towards lines built by the city meant the G train was decently serviced and maintained. Everything fell apart during the deferred maintenance period of the 70s and early 80s, but when restoration began, the focus was on the Manhattan trunk lines and the G was at the bottom of the “Things to Do” list.

At the very least, a Metrocard transfer at Broadway should be put in place, expecially since the MTA itself is complaining about overcrowding on the Canarsie line.

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Theorem Ox February 22, 2013 - 9:49 am

One of the easier improvements that the MTA can do immediately for the G train? Reposition the (four cars) train stop markers!

Why are trains stopping so far away from stairs & entrances in lighter used stations while stopping directly in front of staircases in heavily trafficked stations?

Reduce the ire of straphangers for the former and spread out the crowds for the latter.

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Someone February 22, 2013 - 9:50 am

Something that would help is adding more cars to the trains during peak hours (i.e. 8-car trains instead of 4-car trains.)

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BBnet3000 February 22, 2013 - 10:28 am

Bunching is a problem the MTA should try to deal with on every line.

I saw an awful cascade of bunches yesterday at Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave. The first F train of a bunch and the first E train of a bunch dropped off tons of people for the first M train of a bunch (only 8 cars). I actually couldnt get on and had to wait for an (empty, obviously) R train.

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LLQBTT February 22, 2013 - 10:53 am

Making the transfer at 4th Ave permanent was a good move.

The Atlantic Ave/Fulton St transfer would do wonders, and figuring out a way to at least get the G to Queens Blvd would be a boon.

Making the G five or six 75′ cars (at least during peak periods) is probably the best and easiest way to improve service. And the current schedule could probably be kept, too.

And, how about a little marketing campaign promoting the G. For example, the Williamsburgers could be encouraged to take the G north for connecting service to Midtown, thus helping out the L and 4 5 6 a little bit.

The G has a really bad rep, and changing its image is a big part of growing ridership on the line.

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al February 22, 2013 - 4:11 pm

More riders for Lex in East Midtown is still a problem. Phase 3 2nd Ave subway needs to get started. They should had bored the Phase 3 tunnels when the TBM (ADI) was down there. It saves on mobilization cost and the need for starter tunnels. Now its in…Indianapolis? And we need another launch box. GENIUS! Where the hell is the foresight and Project Management?!?!?!?

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AlexB February 22, 2013 - 12:49 pm

I still don’t see why the G can’t extend to the Queens Blvd local every time the M doesn’t. It just makes sense. Or extend the R to 179th so the G can turn around at Forest Hills all the time. If the N, R and Q can share the 60th St tunnel, the G, R, and M can share the Queens Blvd.

Transfer at Broadway is a no brainer, as well as opening the exist on Grand St at the Metropolitan/Lorimer station.

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Someone February 22, 2013 - 3:39 pm

It’s not the problem with the terminals. Forest Hills can turn up to 40 trains per hour, and you can still leave the F as the local along Queens Boulevard to 179 St. It’s the passenger fumigation that poses the problem, because with the 3-minute fumigation periods on the trains, Forest Hills can only turn 20 trains an hour. Extending the R to 179th wouldn’t help even then.

Although, I have to admit, the QB line has the shittiest weekend local service out of any major express line.

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al February 22, 2013 - 4:05 pm

Maybe we need to address fumigation with the TWU contract. In an age of multitasking and jobs with multiple responsibilities, its time we create positions that combine train fumigation with train cleaning or track flagging. These individuals will work on train fumigation during AM peak, then shift to cleaning or maintenance/inspection crews. A PM shift would come in in the afternoon to handle the PM rush, and afternoon and evening track work.

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Alex C February 22, 2013 - 4:13 pm

The problem is, some idiot will fall asleep on a train and then panic when it goes east of Forest Hills to turn around. Said idiot will then try and escape, then successfully sue the MTA for millions, and fumigation will return. In theory, fumigation shouldn’t be needed. In practice, the human race never ceases to amaze in terms of blatant stupidity, so fumigation is needed.

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Phantom February 23, 2013 - 11:04 am

Pardon my ignorance but what exactly is this ” fumigation ” that you speak of here?

Someone February 23, 2013 - 1:35 pm

Cleaning out trains of passengers.

Phantom February 23, 2013 - 6:11 pm

Why is such an ugly word used?

This is what they think of the passengers?

Alex C February 23, 2013 - 6:33 pm

It’s just a word. It doesn’t mean they think you’re scum.

To be fair, the folks usually being removed are drunks and homeless guys who smell, so…

Bolwerk February 23, 2013 - 8:43 pm

IIRC, it also refers to cleaning up after them.

al February 23, 2013 - 1:03 pm

That is precisely the point of jobs that combine part time jobs.

al February 22, 2013 - 3:55 pm

If Queens Blvd weekend ridership warrants a second local service, then G extension makes sense. Until then, it won’t.

Extending R to 179 requires more manpower and equipment. The demand isn’t that heavy between Queens Blvd and Brooklyn compared to Midtown and Queens or Brooklyn and Manhattan. What would make the case is if the Hillside Ave demands more service. Even then it would be M (8 car) rather than R (10 cars).

The Broadway transfer might be a good spot for a pilot for 2 swipe transfers. You swipe your card at a machine within fare control to obtain a transfer (good for 15 min), go to the other station, and swipe in at the other station’s fare control.

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Someone February 22, 2013 - 4:52 pm

The R is only 8 cars. The cars are just 120 feet longer.

Anyway, the MTA should close Hewes Street and Lorimer Street and make a new station in between, with an in-system transfer to the G at Brodaway.

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Benjamin Kabak February 22, 2013 - 4:54 pm

Anyway, the MTA should close Hewes Street and Lorimer Street and make a new station in between, with an in-system transfer to the G at Brodaway.

And money should grow on trees.

Considering the politics behind closing subway stations and the costs of building a new one — in mid-air around an active line — I think this is a non-starter and unnecessary idea. Great if we’re rebuilding the subway system from scratch but not so great if we want to talk about things that could actually happen in reality.

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Someone February 22, 2013 - 5:02 pm

Without this rebuilding, however, someone might get lost and sue the MTA because they couldn’t find the station that they were supposed to make the MetroCard transfer to. This is assuming, of course, a MetroCard transfer between the J/M and the G is ever built.

Benjamin Kabak February 22, 2013 - 5:04 pm

Are you just making stuff up now? When was the last time someone sued the MTA because they couldn’t find a station? Seriously.

Bolwerk February 22, 2013 - 6:53 pm

I’m starting to wonder if he’s just an unusually skillful troll.

al February 23, 2013 - 10:46 am

Or a foamer without experience with how MTA and construction works.

Someone February 23, 2013 - 1:37 pm

I have experience with the MTA. Besides, I never said that this should actually be carried out.

BTW, this idea isn’t mine. It was actually planned a while back.

Alon Levy February 23, 2013 - 11:38 pm

At inflated American costs (in DC), it’s about $60 million.

llqbtt February 22, 2013 - 5:05 pm

Lorimer serves the entire development at Linsday Park and environs. It ain’t gunna move. Besides it appears that more people transfer to/from the B46 to the G than from the J M which always starts me dreaming on the IND Second System…

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Rhia February 22, 2013 - 1:16 pm

Not to point any fingers, but could the G’s stigma be a class issue as well?

Let’s face it, in the last 10 years, there has been a considerable amount of gentrification in the G’s path (W’burg, Bed Stuy, Fort Greene, LIC). Black or white, people with money have considerable clout in this city, and the more money is invested into these neighborhoods, the more demand there will be from “first-class” residents to improve this “second-class” subway line.

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Someone February 22, 2013 - 5:15 pm

And yet, the result would be the same. The residents got their improved subway line, and then they complain of too much noise/crowding.

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Bolwerk February 22, 2013 - 4:37 pm

Sometimes I feel like the G Train should just be treated a little more like a bus. Post schedules, prominently, and people can know when to arrive to meet their train.

Ya gotta admit, a lot of the problem with the G is guesswork.

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llqbtt February 22, 2013 - 5:08 pm

glad you mentioned this because what use really does subtime have on the Lex, except maybe for late night. there are so many trains, who can possibly meet the next 4 5 6 anyway or even think that way? and if there’s a delay, it’s already posted anyway

but the G, subtime could actually serve a purpose there.

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Someone February 23, 2013 - 8:47 pm

Yeah, if you put track sensors, cameras, or CBTC in every single station between Court Square and Church Avenue

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Bolwerk February 24, 2013 - 1:23 pm

Or they could just post a schedule and adhere to it. Like railroads have done with great success for over a century.

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BlackSuperSonic February 22, 2013 - 7:43 pm

It may be a decent idea to extend the G off Queens Boulevard to LaGuardia. But I won’t hold my breath for the MTA becoming responsible enough to pull that off.

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Someone February 23, 2013 - 1:38 pm

And a horrible idea in practicality, because of NIMBYism. That’s the reason that a similar extension of the N to LaGuardia had failed.

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David Brown February 22, 2013 - 9:35 pm

I basically do not get why the free transfer is needed at Broadway. I have made that connection to the “J” twice and used my Unlimited Metro Card and it worked fine (I wonder how many people would use this connection who do not use the Unlimited already?). I do agree on the need to add cars, and if they really wanted to do something for “G” (As well as “A” & “C” riders) they would fix up that disgusting pit of a station called Hoyt-Schermerhorn. I was passing through there today (I was on the “C” from Nostrand Ave (I was coming back from Long Island on the LIRR), and I saw just how awful it is. Basically Chambers St on the “J” this time in Brooklyn. Oops I forgot they spent $258m at 72nd st so they cannot afford it.

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BlackSuperSonic February 23, 2013 - 12:07 am

It’s a second option for people on the L line trying to get into Manhattan. It also makes crosstown travel from Downtown Brooklyn to Bushwick or Ridgewood much more convenient.

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Eric Brasure February 24, 2013 - 12:15 pm

Just on a cursory look, it seems that ridership growth at Hewes St. has outpaced the average for that line in Brooklyn. I feel like more people might be utilizing that transfer to get into midtown more easily–especially since the transfer to the E and M at Court Sq is such a mess.

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Someone March 3, 2013 - 4:40 pm

What I think is that the G should have 8-car trains instead of 4. Also, if you extend the G, M, Or the R to Jamaica Center Or 179th, then u can put the G back on QB. There was is a plan to extend the R to howard beach via the old rockaway line. If this plan goes through, them the G will be brought back into QB. the countdown clocks will also help anybody waiting for the G.

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