Home F Express Plan The son of the return of the F express train

The son of the return of the F express train

by Benjamin Kabak

Nothing proves the old maxim “You get what you pay for” quite like watching a City Council Transportation Committee hearing. New York City dedicates a laughably low amount of money to public transit, but the Council still has the ability to haul in public officials for berating. Oversight without the power of the purse combined with reticent MTA officials facing off against Council members who clearly don’t understand MTA economics makes for hilarious and frustrating hearings.

Yesterday’s hearings followed that format. While some committee members came prepared with pointed and intelligent questions, committee chairman James Vacca screeched about station cleaners while ignoring costs and Peter Koo railed against some conditions at his nearest station. These council members weren’t out there to protect constituent interests; they just wanted to lord over public agency officials.

David Greenfield, a representatives from Brooklyn, was one council member who wanted answers on specific projects. With the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation set to wrap up before the Apocalypse in the near future, Greenfield asked the MTA about the state of the dormant F express plans. As long-time readers may recall, the calls for an F express study grew in 2007 as a way to improve service along the Culver line and perhaps alleviate crowding at some high-traffic stations with express service. The MTA said that work along the viaduct would preclude implementing any F express service and that the agency would revisit the matter when the rehab wrapped.

Now that the rehab is coming down the homestretch, Greenfield urged the MTA to act now. His constituents out in Borough Park and Midwood suffer slow rides along the F, and he wants the MTA to speed up commutes. He says his office fields more complaints concerning F train service than anything else.

In response, Aaron Stern, the director of Transit’s Office of Management and Budget, vowed a study. Now, promising a study doesn’t mean much. So the question is: What should we expect from the study? Despite my support for this project, I believe the answer is “not much.”

Already, The Daily News has thrown cold water on the idea but without supplying details. Basically, the concerns are two-fold. First, the MTA doesn’t necessarily have the rolling stock to add F express service (but that’s a problem that can be addressed). The second and more valid concern though focuses around service to local stations. By adding express service, and coordinating with, at different spots, the G, M and E trains, the MTA would reduce local service, and considering how many of the most popular F stops in Brooklyn are local, this idea just won’t fly.

To make matters more complicated, Bergen St. — one of the busier local stops — has express tracks that need millions of dollars of work. The lower level at Bergen St. was effectively destroyed in a fire a bunch of years ago, and although the MTA stores runs bypass trains through that station, it cannot be used for revenue service. F express service without stops at Bergen, Carroll, Smith/9th or 4th Ave. would leave many, many riders with reduced service.

Still, despite the forces aligning against F express service, the MTA may try to find a limited way to add some express service. During a September meeting of the Transit Riders Council, MTA officials spoke about potential F options. The minutes are available online, but I can summarize.

Essentially, Transit operations officials believe the impact at local stops would outweigh the benefits to express riders. If any express service is implemented, it would likely be limited to weekday peak hours only and would not involve Bergen St. as it would be too expensive to repair the station for only limited service. That’s not a rosy picture.

Eventually, the MTA will release an official study on F express service, and the conclusions will likely weigh against express service. It’s a shame to underutilize preexisting infrastructure, but sometimes, from both cost and operations perspectives, such service just doesn’t make sense.

You may also like


Marc Shepherd March 6, 2013 - 10:52 am

Given the popularity of Bergen Street, it appears to me that this cannot work unless that station is restored as an express stop.

You’d also need real-time train arrival information, to avoid the old problem of people waiting in the stairwell to grab whichever train arrives first.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 3:49 pm

You don’t need that. You just need to have F locals and F expresses have differently-shaped bullets.

Against Someone March 7, 2013 - 3:34 am

Yes, you do need that. Stop your foolness inaccurate commenting. It’s degrading the quality of the comment boards of this forum.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 9:34 am

First of all, Against Someone, it looks like your grammar is wrong. Second of all you just added “Against” to my screen name…

BenW March 7, 2013 - 10:49 am

Unfortunately, it is only his grammar that is incorrect.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 2:11 pm

Not just that- it’s the ignorance that gets me.

VLM March 7, 2013 - 2:15 pm

Irony so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 4:37 pm

Nah, not really.

Bolwerk March 7, 2013 - 10:52 am

Well, it would be nice but you don’t need it, so Someone is technically correct.

At 14 TPH during peak time (see page 39), more trains could certainly fit through the Rutgers Street Tunnel, though it might disrupt the M. Still, even six expresses each hour on top of present service could probably do the trick; the major problem is that’s an express train every 10 minutes, probably with some bunching due to interlining with the M and G, so there should be some way to make the schedules prominent.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 11:17 am

As some commenters have said before, the merge with the E train in Queens prevents the running of more than 14 tph on the F. So any other trains that come from Rutgers St can’t come from the F.

huh? January 11, 2014 - 3:10 pm

Yeah, but it looks like A division is the only one that has diamond express service. Having a diamond bullet on a B division line would be weird.

John-2 March 6, 2013 - 11:24 am

Restoring Culver express service basically pits Park Slope against either Carroll Gardens and/or Ridgewood, Bushwick and Middle Village, because the only way to provide it is to either go back to the 1968-76 pattern of alternate F express trains, or you’ve got to take the alternate Sixth Avenue/Queens Blvd. service away from the M, banish it back to Chambers and restore an extended V train to Church Avenue.

Neither option is likely to fly. Park Slope and McDonald Avenue passengers are probably going to have to wait for Phase III of the SAS to be built between 63rd and Houston before there will be any spare track capacity at all for a Culver express that could tie into a Midtown Manhattan trunk line.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 3:48 pm

Or you can extend G trains to Kings Highway.

John-2 March 6, 2013 - 4:16 pm

Doesn’t solve the problem.

You can run 20 G trains an hour that are all 600 feet long and people in Carroll Gardens and even those on the local stops in Park Slope are going to complain about not having enough one-seat rides into Manhattan, just like they did 40 years ago when the F expresses ran to/from Coney Island and the F locals to KH. Adding G trains isn’t going to mollify the local station passengers.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 7:20 pm

What else are we going to do in the meantime? Some G train riders are going to want to get to KH or CI as well.

Or we can do your idea, re-activate the V and extend it from 71 Avenue to KH.

John-2 March 6, 2013 - 9:53 pm

But if you add the V, now you’ve got to squeeze three lines on Sixth Avenue (F/M/V) between B’way-Lafayette and 47th-50th and also the M/R/V combo between 36th and Forest Hills. Which can be done. If you cut M service to Brooklyn and R service on Broadway and Fourth Avenue, because of the bottleneck turning trains at Continental. And sending the M back to Chambers with all the Williamsburgh development wouldn’t be warmly received in northern Kings County.

You can squash three lines onto a route, but it’s never optimal and normally it’s got to be for a higher volume passenger need than to add 3-4 express stops on the Culver.

Henry March 7, 2013 - 1:30 am

The amount of riders on Culver who want to go to Manhattan far outnumber those who want to go along the Crosstown line. This logic was used to cut the G and replace it with the V many years back.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2013 - 12:33 pm

The most interesting part is that the head of OMB testified, not the head of Operations Planning. Just let’s you know who really runs NYCT. Stern is a very smart guy, but he is a budget person, not a planner. Planners need to have more say in what is best for the riders, not the budget people.

Benjamin Kabak March 6, 2013 - 12:37 pm

OMB testified because the purpose of the hearing was to discuss the MTA’s budget. Had City Council said they wanted to discuss operations, operations folks would have been behind the mic instead. As it stood, he had input from ops, but I’m not sure who.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2013 - 1:46 pm

Thanks for the explanation. Now let me explain something too.

I think I know who from OP would have attended, but that really doesn’t matter. The fact is that OMB still runs the show, not Ops Planning. They are only allowed to do what they are told. It has been that way since around 1980 when Rapid Transit Operations Planning (RTOP) was moved out of Rapid Transit Operations, but only the Planning function, not the Schedules function which remained in RTO.

In July 1981, RTOP absorbed Bus Planning which was its own department in Surface (which I headed) but did not incorporate Schedules (which was under Surface Transportation). The name was then changed from Rapid Transit Operations Planning to just Operations Planning. In 1982 it was placed in the Department of “Budget and Planning.” (Notice which came first.)

After 1984, under David Gunn, the department was greatly expanded from about 40 people to between 300 and 500 when it took over both Subway and bus Schedules from Operations and added several hundred part-time traffic checkers. That greatly increased their power from merely being advisory to Operations.

However, somewhere along the line, instead of Operations being considered a partner of budget as in “Planning and Budget”, a separate Office of Management and Budget was created and Operations Planning, which had previously been considered an unequal partner or budget, now became a subsidiary of Budget.

As it stands today, OMB calls the shots, makes the rules, and OPs Planning must follow along. Yes, they are consulted, but OMB is not required to listen. As I stated previously, there needs to be more of a partnership between budgeting and planning for more positive changes for the riders to occur without budget being the overriding factor.

Much more attention needs to be paid to latent demand, i.e. looking for where demand exists but is not served such as running for example express bus routes between major centers where direct subway access does not exist, such as between Flushing and Jamaica along highways that is quick, and affordable, and utilizing underutilized or non-utilized rights of way for light rail. (The popularity of the Chinese buses proves there is a market for low cost fast bus operations.)

But new express bus routes and light rail will never happen as long as budget people do the real planning instead of planners. Budget people have their own way of thinking which leads them to emphasize construction and operating costs while giving less importance to the benefits and the long range effects of positive changes that occur to entire neighborhoods. If I was not instrumental in the extension of the B11 in 1978, it is doubtful that today Midwood would ever have become Borough Park East.

Positive growth in certain neighborhoods is still stymied by inadequate transportation. Changes that were needed 50 years ago, still have not been made because of the MTA’s budget people being pennywise and pound foolish by refusing to make adequate investments in our transit system. They will deny a positive change for an annual additional expense of $50,000 without estimating any increase in ridership which may offset that cost or other positive benefits to the neighborhood that may occur.

You can’t plan adequately when OMB is providing the constraints as to what planners can and cannot propose.

Benjamin Kabak March 6, 2013 - 1:51 pm

You can’t plan adequately when OMB is providing the constraints as to what planners can and cannot propose.

You buried the lead. As you noted, that’s been the case for a while. But what’s a solution?

BrooklynBus March 6, 2013 - 3:02 pm

The solution is to be a little less cost conscious and be willing to experiment more by giving planners more say. The MTA wastes tons of money doing things they should not be doing but is overly cautious with their funds when it comes to trying new services. For example, trying new bus services at 30 minute intervals is ridiculous. You will never learn if there is demand that way. They need to be tried at 20 minute intervals, then increased or decreased accordingly.

You do that by stating a new route is experimental and has been given at trial period of one year to see if it works. Otherwise it will be discontinued. You set up what is expected beforehand and if the goals are not clearly met, the route is discontinued without any further hearings. That’s how planning should be done.

The MTA instead makes changes, assuming that if the new route is a dud, once implemented, the public will not allow them to discontinue it, and they will be stuck with it. So they study it forever before implementing it, and institute very poor headways to minimize their losses when the communities refuse to let them discontinue it. They decide as they go along what constitutes success, when that should be determined beforehand.

If when a change is made, it is clearly labeled experimental, and the communities know they are being treated fairly, because they agreed the terms set for discontinuation beforehand, they will not have a problem in letting the route go if it fails. There is also another possibility. After the route starts, the communities realize what is wrong with the route and knows a small change that could be made that will increase usage and the MTA agrees to try it and it works. That requires the that the MTA is willing to work with and listen to community suggestions.

That is not what would currently happen because the MTA does not believe that the communities actually could be helpful. They view them as necessary evils that have to be dealt with and are very unwilling to try a suggestion from the public by not fairly evaluating it, but more often just looks for an excuse to dismiss it because of their arrogance that they know what is best for everyone, when in fact there are certain things that the community may understand better than the MTA why passengers may behave in a certain manner.

I once asked someone very high in Operations Planning why they do such little experimentation when it comes to bus routes.

(There is little you can experiment with when it comes to rapid transit, but the possibilities are endless for bus transportation. But we have a system where the bus system is almost as inflexible as the rapid transit system. In fact, during the early days of buses in the 1930s, there were major changes to bus routes all the time. Even the trolley with fixed rails were very flexible with many routes operating only during the summers. We have no summer bus routes today.)

This is how he answered me. We would love to make major changes and try things but the executives on top won’t let us. They get paid the same high salaries whether we make worthwhile changes or not. If we try something and it doesn’t work, they are afraid that the political fall out will cost them their job since they are not protected by civil service. So why take a chance? If we do propose something major that we like we often get a response back saying “Are you sure you really want to do that?” We are smart enough to know, that means just drop the idea and we do, so we just have to be content by making little changes.

So as you see many changes need to be made for the system to work. This idea of cost neutrality imposed on Operations Planning when making changes is the first thing that has to be changed. Investments in the system must be made. Second, communities must not be viewed as adversaries and nuisances to be dealt with, but as partners. That change in attitude would do a great deal in changing the image of the MTA. If their image improves, it will be easier for them to obtain necessary funding. Everything works together.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2013 - 3:18 pm

I forgot to mention what happened when I was in Operations Planning about the fear of taking risks because of the fear of punishment in case of failure.

I had an idea to change the run on and run off of a route to provide more service. I was about to propose it to my superior when one of my employees suggested I don’t because he would oppose it because he would be too afraid to make the suggestion. He advised me to go directly to Schedules, bypassing the boss. I did and the idea was implemented. The result was 11 extra trips at a lower cost. It meant less crowded buses and more frequent service at a cost savings. When the boss found out about it, rather than giving me an argument for bypassing him, he congratulated me for a job well done because he saw it was a success.

My employee was right. Had I gone about it the “correct procedural way” it never would have been tried. This just proves the need to experiment with the removal of the fear of reprisals if an experiment turns out not to be a success. I knew enough about the system to know my idea would succeed.

The problem with OP today is that they are not sure of themselves, because especially in bus planning they don’t have people who understand passenger travel habits. They don’t realize for example, the number of riders who will make the trip one way in one direction, but use another route for the reverse direction and the high number of discretionary trips. They think everyone makes the same trips the same way all the time.

You have to put yourself in the place of the passenger and have a feel for what you are doing. You can’t just look at a bunch of numbers and know what you are doing without actually riding the system you are planning for.

This is why you have to hire competent people and be willing to listen to others and always learn more. There are no easy answers.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2013 - 3:31 pm

Just one more point, while there was always punishment if someone tried something and failed, there were no rewards when you tried something and it succeeded. I hope that has changed somewhat in the past 30 years. There are rewards today I assume when you save money. If you just improve service and there is no financial savings, that might not merit any reward because it is not viewed as important as saving money.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2013 - 5:25 pm

One mistake. It was called the “Department of Planning and Budget” not “Budget and Planning” as i stated, but budget still was a major influence in Planning and the first time the two were directly linked as a single department.

Nathanael March 9, 2013 - 12:45 am

Interesting. This is confirming the evidence I’ve seen from multiple directions that David Gunn was consistently bad with issues which relate to personnel and people-management, at NYC Transit, at WMATA, at TTC, and at Amtrak. Of those, Amtrak is the only one where someone who is good at such things has succeeded Gunn, so far. All the others have persistent management problems which date to the Gunn era (or earlier, to be fair).

BrooklynBus March 9, 2013 - 9:24 am

Actually the linking of Planning and Budget occurred in 1982, two years before Gunn. He is only guilty of not changing that and neither did any of his successors.

Andrew March 6, 2013 - 11:53 pm

Nice history lesson, but in fact Operations Planning reports directly to the EVP, not to OMB.

That doesn’t mean that planners can ignore budgets. They can (and certainly should) fight for funding for projects that they deem particularly worthwhile, but simply drawing lines on a map and ignoring funding issues is a waste of everybody’s time.

Aaron Stern was at the hearing because it was a budget hearing. Planning issues weren’t on the agenda.

BrooklynBus March 7, 2013 - 11:41 am

Correct. Both OP and OMB report directly to the Executive Vice President. But do you think that means they both have equal say? Of course not. OMB still sets the rules that OP must follow and one of them is cost neutrality for operational changes. And I wouldn’t be so sure that their so called initiatives involve extra investments. I heard that the B6 Limited was recently cut back from New Lots Avenue to Rockaway Parkway and I bet that is what is paying for the new B84.

No one is saying that planners should ignore budgets and funding issues or merely draw lines on a map. Again you insist on putting words in my mouth. Before cost neutrality, for years (like about 30) bus service was just cut without the money saved even being reinvested in the system. I’m sure the planners weren’t the ones making those decisions.

You need to be cost conscious, but as I stated, the MTA is overly frugal when it comes to investing in new services. They also expect immediate return on their investment. Any businessman will tell you that it usually takes three years to see a positive return. You must be willing to make those investments, and you don’t do that with initial 30 minute headways because you will not see the demand. It’s a little like opening a supermarket and carrying only one or two brands. People won’t shop there if they can help it because they want more choices.

They need to look for latent demand through data analyses, origin destination studies, and passenger surveys which they don’t do. If they did, they would realize that a new Rockaway ferry service demands analysis of the bus routes to see which ones need to be changed to serve that ferry which doesn’t involve unnecessarily hurting others by taking away their bus service.

Instead, they do all their planning from passenger traffic counts which should only be used to schedule existing services, and by responding to political pressures. That’s no way to adequately plan. Too many problems fall between the cracks resulting in outdated bus routes which necessitate unnecessary indirect connections involving time-consuming travel. That’s what discourages bus usage.

The only other surveys they do are to measure the satisfaction of existing services. They never ask their passengers for their opinions regarding new services they would want. They do their own planning and make their recommendations on a take it or leave it basis when sometimes some modifications to their plan would greatly improve it. That’s exactly what happened with their Northeast Bronx bus study in 1993. The community demanded some modifications and the MTA response was to make no changes at all. The result? A quarter million dollar study for nothing because the MTA refused to compromise. Again, no way to plan.

Andrew March 9, 2013 - 9:40 pm

If you agree that “Both OP and OMB report directly to the Executive Vice President,” why did you say a day and a half earlier that “Operations Planning, which had previously been considered an unequal partner or budget, now became a subsidiary of Budget”?

OP, like every other department, is expected to be cognizant of costs. It’s called basic fiscal responsibility.

BrooklynBus March 10, 2013 - 11:16 am

I said that because in a conversation I once had with someone very high in Operations Planning who was interviewing me for a job there, he tolld me that OP would like very much to propose many more extensive changes to the system but are prevented from doing so by executives above Operations Planning. He did not specifically mention OMB, but did indicate others outside Operations Planning were controlling their proposals. That’s why I made the statement I did.

If you knew anything about the theory of bureaucracy (which I took an undergraduate course in) you would know that it is not only the formal lines of bureaucracy that matter. There are also informal lines of communication that control how any agency operates.

Andrew March 10, 2013 - 5:54 pm

That’s exactly right. As I said: “OP, like every other department, is expected to be cognizant of costs. It’s called basic fiscal responsibility.” That means that they can’t do everything that they wish they could do.

BrooklynBus March 10, 2013 - 6:43 pm

What’s exactly right? I am not agreeing with you.

You asked me why I stated that OP is an unequal partner of OMB with OMB having the greater say. You stated that OP must show fiscal responsibility and that is why they are being so conservative in proposing new services.

I stated that fiscal responsibility was not the reason OP is being so conservative, and I cited a conversation with a high OP official who told me that they were conservative not because of fiscal responsibility but because they were being forced to be conservative by their superiors, mainly the Executive VP.

That means that the Executive VP was listening more to OMB than to OP by denying many of OP’s proposed routes.

So it’s not that OP sees the need for fiscal responsibility as you state, but they are being forced to limit their proposals against their better judgment.

I stand by my original statement that OMB controls OP, regardless if OP reports to OMB or not.

Andrew March 11, 2013 - 10:24 pm

And my point is that what’s holding OP back from making “many more extensive changes to the system” is not a group of evil demons in OMB; it’s simple budgetary realities. Those same budgetary realities constrain every other department at NYCT. All departments have to prioritize their wishlists and fight for the projects they deem most worthwhile, because there isn’t enough funding for everything.

Don’t like it? Neither do I, but it’s reality. If the MTA had an adequate, stable funding stream, one not under constant attack, there could be a lot more money for improvements.

BrooklynBus March 12, 2013 - 12:34 am

“And my point is that what’s holding OP back from making “many more extensive changes to the system” is not a group of evil demons in OMB; it’s simple budgetary realities”

But that is totally contrary to what that high level OP official told me. He said it WAS the Executive VP who was telling them not to make more extensive changes that they wanted to make. It was not the budgetary concerns that stopped them.

Where so you think the Executive VP was getting her information from if not from those “evil demons” from OMB who also reported to her and was advising her to reject those more ambitious plans from OP?

You can repeat the same thing as many times as you wish, but that does not change the facts. OMB places limitations on what OP can propose and what they cannot propose, whether directly or indorectly.

Andrew March 12, 2013 - 10:32 pm

So you’re saying that OP had enough money budgeted to carry out a particular improvement, but the EVP told them not to, in the interest of saving money?

I don’t believe it for a minute.

Those evil demons at OMB set the operating budget. If there isn’t enough money budgeted for a desired improvement, then that desired improvement isn’t happening, because the agency can’t afford it. State law requires the MTA to have a balanced budget.

BrooklynBus March 13, 2013 - 12:00 am

No that’s not what I said at all.

I said that OP wants to make more changes than they are permitted to do because the Executive VP places limits on what they can propose and can’t propose and she or he is probably influenced by OMB.

There is also the issue how you determine if there is enough money in the first place. Every change I have seen proposed shows the cost in terms of increased operational costs. I have never seen a gross cost and then a net cost accounting for new riders using the service. Have you?

I believe they overestimate the costs of new services which is why they are so conservative. Where is the analysis that compares the costs and revenue for a 30 minute service verses a 20 minute service? Do they even do that analysis? Of course no one has a right to ask those questions because we all know the “experts” know exactly what they are doing.

David Brown March 6, 2013 - 12:36 pm

I know it is a lot for politicians to do so, but maybe the City needs to start putting their transit money where their mouths are as far as the “F” is concerned. From my perspective (As a regular “F” rider), the “F” is simply too long and slow. A lot of the new development in NYC: Roosevelt Island and Cornell, NYU (The Village AND Brooklyn), Brooklyn Navy Yard (Great article in today’s Wall Street Journal about it (The City put $250m on upgrading the water, sewer, electrical systems and roads there)), Dumbo, SPURA, Second Ave Subway, Coney Island, the expected new aquarium, and I am sure a few others that I missed, are tied directly to the performance of the “F” Train. It would make a lot of sense to do something about Bergen St (I wonder how much it would cost to renovate it, and add the “F” Express?). While at it, maybe make the “B” Train a Local and have the “F” be a weekday Express and skip 14th & 23rd Streets. I know fixing up West 4th is too much to ask for. But the others would be a nice start.

Andrew March 7, 2013 - 12:15 am

Aside from causing major congestion and severely reducing capacity, what purpose would it serve for the B and F to cross paths at 34th, as you suggest?

Someone March 7, 2013 - 10:44 am

Um… switching the B to the Culver line and the F to the West End Line? Which doesn’t seem logical.

Tower18 March 6, 2013 - 12:37 pm

As a daily F rider from Church Av, I don’t think F express makes sense. The ridership that would benefit is so small vs. the ridership that would be hurt. Imagine the waits and crowded conditions at 4th Av, Carroll, and Bergen if F trains only came every 7-9 minutes during rush hour, vs. every ~4 minutes now. An “every other train” express beginning at Church Av wouldn’t siphon off enough riders to reduce crowding significantly, and the wait times would be bordering on intolerable. The benefit would be even less if trains went express from Kings Hwy or Avenue X, since even fewer riders are out that far.

I would love it, but the way the tracks are set up at Bergen (not allowing a local/express transfer without stairs) and the TPH limits necessitated by the E in Queens, means it’s just not feasible.

If we’re throwing out pie in the sky ideas, a major reconfiguration of the Flocal/Fexpress/G junction at Bergen would help a lot, even without express service. Winding through that stupid junction costs at least 90 seconds right there. But 90 seconds isn’t enough for the hundreds of millions that would be required to fix it.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 4:10 pm

the TPH limits necessitated by the E in Queens

The F still has 14 TPH. The minimum limit per service (local/express) is 6 TPH. So you can have 8 TPH on one service and 6 TPH on another, or 7 TPH on both services.

Tower18 March 6, 2013 - 4:43 pm

Which is exactly what I said, which would be terrible at the local stops (6-8 TPH = 7.5-10 minute headways, vs 14 TPH/4.5 minute headways.)

F Rider March 8, 2013 - 7:43 am

I totally agree re: the junction of G, F express and F local tracks north of Bergen — every morning the wild jerking as F trains pass over those switches (even at slower speeds) causes countless commuters to go flying and fall all over each other, and every morning everyone seems so surprised by the phenomenon that you’d hardly believe they’re regular riders.

Henry March 9, 2013 - 2:13 am

That’s mostly because the original plan was to have the (F) express and the (G) local on Culver, but the original planners never expected the industrial developments around the (G) to close. That switch was never meant to be used for regular service.

Caelestor March 6, 2013 - 2:25 pm

Express service only makes sense if there’s high demand for it at the stops closer to the terminal (here, Coney Island). In this case, the stops from Church Ave onwards are considerably busier than the ones in South Brooklyn, so running express would increase travel times for a majority of the riders, which defeats the point. Note that the E/F on Queens Blvd can run express because of high demand at the stations in Jamaica.

David Brown March 6, 2013 - 5:09 pm

The “F” is almost always an express between Queensbridge and 71st st, and the “E” is a local late nites. In addition, the “E” skips Van Wyck and 75th Ave part time (Earlier Manhattan Bound Rush Hour, Later, Queens Bound Rush Hour). A good part of the “E” demand is because of JFK Airport and (To a lesser extent) the LIRR (Although both are offset by the “J” which is a faster ride to lower Manhattan). Back to the “F”, a major loss to NYC (And “F” Commuters) was when Vornado decided to keep the Pennsylvania Hotel, and thus not reopening the “Gimbels Passage” A faster commute in midtown would have been a major improvement for all New Yorkers, and I hope the City makes it a priority to get it rebuilt and opened. I would make this the number one issue when it comes to Vornado being allowed to expand in the City.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 7:15 pm

Actually, the E runs express in both directions to Briarwood-Van Wyck at all times, except for times that the M does not run to 71 Avenue. The F runs express at all times from 21 St to 71 Avenue. The J/Z actually is faster but only during rush hours when they have an A/B skip-stop pattern.

Anyway, back to the E/F in Queens. If a local service is sent to Jamaica, then the people in Jamaica will go nuts over having a longer commute.

About the Gimbels Passage, Vornado should reopen it because crime isn’t as high nowadays as it was when the passageway was closed. Even then, it’s still going to be an out-of-system transfer.

Ron March 6, 2013 - 9:33 pm

Actually, David is right. The E runs express between 71st and Jamaica just as he described, until 7:30am-7:30pm in the Jamaica direction and 6am-6pm (I think) in the Manhattan direction.

I used to live off 75th Ave. BTW, there are also select E trains that go to 179th St during rush hour that run local as well.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 8:05 am

I know, I live along the Queens Blvd. Line.

The E runs express in both directions east of Forest Hills-71 Avenue between 7 AM and 7 PM. BTW, the few rush hour E trains that originate in 179 Street always run express.

David said “only” in the peak direction, so that’s not the right wording.

Eric Brasure March 6, 2013 - 2:34 pm

I’m not very familiar with the IND Culver line’s history, but is the problem here that the population centers and ridership have shifted to local stations and away from express stations?

Frank B March 6, 2013 - 3:13 pm

They had IND/BMT Culver express service for about a decade from the 60’s to the 70’s; everyone complained about it in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens (Before it became Yuppietown) because you had to grab the G and then transfer to the F at Bergen Street (Which was still operating then).

Here’s a link to a map from 1972 (Back when we had an 8 train via the 3rd Avenue El in The Bronx).
Any and all express stops are in bold; though looking at the current frequency of F trains and current track maps, any reiteration of the Culver Express would likely require the F to stop at West 8th, Van Sicklen, and Avenue X as well; I’m also recommending it switch back to the local tracks at Smith-9th Street for ease of service for Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill; as well as ease of transfers to the G, and uptown-downtown transfers.


Eric Brasure March 6, 2013 - 3:40 pm

Thanks for the history and the map. Judging based solely on that map, I can’t see what point reimplementing F express service would serve.

Frank B March 6, 2013 - 4:46 pm

I see you’re new here; (please correct me if I’m wrong) if so, then welcome. I’m going to be using layman’s nomenclature here to explain this.

It is absolutely 100% wise to implement some Culver express service in some form or another. Let’s use a real world example.

The IRT Flushing Line (You likely know it as the 7 train) runs between Flushing, Queens and Times Square – 42nd Street. The Flushing Line has three tracks; One Manhattan Bound Local, One Queens Bound Local, and a reversible peak-direction express track, meant to move passengers into Manhattan in the morning, and into Queens in the evening.

Running local, a morning train into Manhattan from end to end will take approximately 35 minutes; an express will take 28 minutes. On the surface, this doesn’t mean much; that just means a rider is losing 14 minutes per day in travel; assuming a man works 5 days per week and there’s 4 weeks in a month (For the sake of argument) that means he’s losing 4 hours and 40 minutes per month; this is 56 hours per year; which means if he takes a local over an express, he’s essentially working an additional 2 1/3 days a year without additional pay; a hardship easily shrugged off by those who live Middle Class lifestyles or are Wealthy; however, to the working poor, such as a widowed mother struggling to raise children whilst working, or college students trying to better themselves whilst supporting their families, it is a very undue hardship; 14 minutes a day in time savings leads to an additional 2 1/3 days in waking hours for these individuals.

Keep in mind, these individuals’ commutes do not end at either end; they don’t live in the subway station; in the instance of the 7 train, the large majority of the riders come from eastern Queens and commute on a plethora of bus lines to the terminal. By implementing a limited bus service in conjunction with an express subway service, we can cut these individuals’ commutes by 30 minutes; providing them with a entire working weeks’ worth of free time.

Keep in mind, these savings are merely based a schedule; the truth is, that each local station brings more and more people trying to hold open the doors, crowding in, etc. These things slow down service; there is reduced opportunity for slowed trains using express services.

That’s the point the Culver express service can serve. Helping the working poor; and moreover, everyone and anyone who rides the train. If the infrastructure wasn’t already there, do you think I’d support $3 billion pissed down the drain to build express tracks on an area with a train, albeit slow? No way. But the express infrastructure already exists; its even already used occasionally during train reroutes. Why not use it?

To let the infrastructure sit there and rust would be a waste of resources that can be easily be utilized for virtually no cost. Improving service and reducing travel times is the goal.

And that, Mr. Brasure, is the point.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 7:26 pm

Mr. Brasure is not new. He’s commented here before…

Andrew March 6, 2013 - 11:59 pm

The Flushing line is a poor comparison, because the last stop on that line is an incredibly busy station – the busiest outside Manhattan – while the bulk of the Culver line’s ridership is at the inner end.

The 7 also has nearly 30 trains per hour, split between local and express. The G has only 14. Instead of waiting up to 4 minutes for an F train, riders at the local stations would have to wait up to 8.

Express service is a good tool, and there are places where it makes a lot of sense, but there are other places where it doesn’t. This is one of those places where it doesn’t.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 8:08 am

The 7 runs at a frequency of 27 TPH during peak hours. The G runs at about 10 TPH. Local F train riders can transfer at Bergen St.

pete March 8, 2013 - 9:53 pm

The longer the commute, the less people will use it. Imagine if the LIRR had subway stop frequency and the subway 35 mph speed limit.

Andrew March 9, 2013 - 9:43 pm

Running alternate F’s express would lengthen commutes for riders at six stops, two of which are extremely busy and all of which are busier than the stations on the southern portion of the line.

Henry March 9, 2013 - 9:53 pm

I’m sorry, but where did you hear about a 35MPH speed limit? The official speed limit on most sections is 55MPH, trains going through the 60th St tube regularly hit 60+MPH, and the R46 cars on the (A) have been tested for speeds up to 75-80 MPH.

Also, high speed service is not what matters – it is acceleration and deceleration that make/break a transit line. It’s why a train stopping at Woodside, Kew Gardens, and Forest Hills on the LIRR is only two or three minutes slower than a nonstop Penn-Jamaica train.

Not to mention, Queens riders put up with 60+ min commutes. Mine is 90+ minutes on a good day and 120 on a bad day, and I live on the outer end of a bus line that runs every 2 minutes and still skips waiting passengers at stops. If we can put up with longer commutes, than surely (F) train riders can deal with losing the 5 or so minutes that an express run would give them.

Eric Brasure March 7, 2013 - 10:33 am

But the Flushing line is a bad example, for the reasons Andrew identified below. The bulk of the ridership of the F is primarily at local stops (leaving Bergen St out of this equation as reimplementing express service at that station seems to be out of the question) and so you would be running express F trains below capacity and leaving fewer local F trains to service the same ridership. It makes no sense.

And Someone is correct (for once), I am not new here. 🙂

Someone March 7, 2013 - 11:13 am

Correct for once? I’m correct other times, too… 😉

Anon256 March 7, 2013 - 10:50 am

If anything this seems backwards. If we want to help the working poor there are much cheaper ways to do it (including giving them cash). They make little money per hour and therefore it is more effective to give them money than to give them time. By contrast, middle-class riders may have an after-tax value of time of $40/hour or more, so saving them 14 minutes a weekday is $200+ a month, which adds significantly to the city’s economy.

Eric Brasure March 6, 2013 - 3:42 pm

I’m curious about that shuttle running between 9th Ave and Ditmas Ave. I’m assuming it was scuttled because of low ridership?

Benjamin Kabak March 6, 2013 - 3:43 pm

Eric, a history lesson, if you will: When It Was A Train: The Culver Shuttle

Eric Brasure March 7, 2013 - 10:29 am

Very interesting, thanks!

Frank B March 6, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Well, considering that below Church Avenue, where the IND ends and the BMT Begins, there’s only 3 tracks for peak express service anyway, rush-hour only peak direction F train service throughout the entire Culver Line might be the best option regardless.

From Coney Island Terminal, presuming that the F would stop at 7th Avenue in Park Slope, skip 4th Avenue, then again join the Culver local tracks at Smith-9th Streets for local service throughout Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, the number of stops throughout the service would go from 26 to 17 stops; a significant time savings, particularly for those living in the swarth of high-rises around Coney Island.

This scenario would still allow for significant time savings for those living along the Culver Line, while still providing service to the most rapidly growing neighborhoods; transfers to the G could continue to be made at Bergen Street; for an in-system downtown-uptown transfer, it could be done at Carroll Street, as it is now.

I applaud the fact that peak express Culver service is still even on the table; these politicians promise the moon 6 years ago, and still even remember they said it? I’d always presumed Bloomberg would have forgotten by now… we’re lucky these politicians are even discussing this!

Jimmy March 6, 2013 - 8:22 pm

This would also encourage more people to use the Culver Line to get to Coney Island.

Michael K March 6, 2013 - 9:01 pm

If the goal is to get to Coney Island quickly, The Sea Beach Express (NX) would be best suited for that task.

Until Disneyland NYC opens in Coney Island, there will be no need for such a service.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 3:45 pm

NO, NO, MAYBE and MAYBE on all counts. This is a waste of the 14 trains per hour that run on the F.

Unless you add express service to the F in Queens east of 71 Avenue as well, and unless you have the majority of service run local, then this isn’t gong to fly.

There’s also no high demand for the express service.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 3:47 pm

I meant “some demand”.

Michael K March 6, 2013 - 6:20 pm

Is it feasible to send all the E trains to the culver line instead of terminating at the WTC?

Jimmy March 6, 2013 - 6:34 pm

No, not exactly. (E) trains, which run at approximately 14 trains per hour, would not be able to merge with the (A) and (C). The maximum per track is 30 train per hour per track.

Jimmy March 6, 2013 - 6:34 pm

By the way, the (A) is about 15TPH and the C is about 6TPH.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 7:23 pm

Minor correction:

The (A) is 16 TPH, I think, and the (C) is 7-8 TPH.

The (E) is 16 TPH.

Justin Samuels March 9, 2013 - 6:17 pm

So then perhaps some runs on the E train could go down the Culver Line as the Culver Express (using the Cranberry Street tunnel) while others runs could terminate at the WTC.

If the A is 16 trains per hour, and the C is 7 trains per hour, that leaves 7 per hour E trains that could be used for limited express service on the Culver Line. This wouldn’t have to disrupt the local service on the F to Manhattan at all.

Michael K March 6, 2013 - 8:49 pm

I was wondering about using the flying junctions at W 4th to route the E towards the Rutgers Tunnel.

John-2 March 6, 2013 - 10:07 pm

For speed of operation, it works best if all Eighth Avenue trains go to the same place south of West Fourth and all Sixth Avenue trains do the same. If you mix and match, then if two locals arrive at West Fourth southbound on the upper and lower levels, and both need to go to Spring Street, one train’s got to hold in the station, possibly delaying one right behind.

If you did flip them, you’d end up with something like the F to Chambers and the E to Coney Island via B’way-Lafayette. while the M would end up replacing the C north of West Fourth and going to at 168th Street via Eighth Avenue and the C would run from Euclid to Continental local, via it’s current route south of West Fourth.

While this would probably benefit Fulton Street riders in Brooklyn, who’d now have Sixth and Eighth Avenue service, it would be bad for passengers coming in on the Culver or over the Willie B, who want to be closer to the center of Manhattan and are now over on Eighth Avenue. And either way, there’s still not enough capacity for Culver Express service.

Michael K March 7, 2013 - 12:21 am

Why do have flying junctions at west 4th for then? lol ;P

John-2 March 7, 2013 - 1:27 am

It does hypothetically allow the MTA to shift its downtown local track destinations without requiring the locals to cross over south of West Fourth. So they could just as easily send Sixth Avenue trains to Spring and Eighth Avenue trains to B’way-Lafayette if they desired without forcing one line to wait for the signals to clear to proceed. And the D for a while in the early years did go to Hudson Terminal while the F went to Church via Houston Street, so they have split routes before. It’s just not the most efficient way to do it, and swapping them now would simply irk a lot of people using the F and M lines.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 11:29 am

For service reroutes. It used to be to reroute E trains tot eh Culver line until the 1940s, when the Sixth Avenue line opened.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 11:29 am

*To the

Someone March 7, 2013 - 8:10 am

The F can be split into two services, just like the Q was split from 2001-2004…

Someone March 6, 2013 - 7:23 pm

Nope, not exactly. The problem is how you are going to fit another 16 trains to the 24 TPH already in the Cranberry St tunnel.

Also a problem is: are you going to keep WTC open, or have another service serve it?

Jimmy March 6, 2013 - 8:18 pm

You’d keep WTC open, I guess. Weekends and other times trains would have to terminate there. Or, you could send some (E)’s to Culver and others to WTC. The problem is the merging, at Canal and at Jay-Metrotech.

Justin Samuels March 9, 2013 - 6:20 pm

Well, in Queens, there’s limited express service on the E train to 179th Street. They could do something similar in Brooklyn, like send 7 E trains per hour to the F line to service as the Culver Express.

Jimmy March 6, 2013 - 6:32 pm

I’d propose F local trains only running to Church, making all stops, and expresses skipping all stops from Jay-Metrotech to Church Ave. This is all day, due to the 2 express tracks on the IND culver line. Boost up TPH to around 16-18 trains per hour on the F. This would be slightly evenly split, with a little more TPH to express, due to the (G) running local. Here is what I’m talking about:

Jay-Metrotech: Local and express
Bergen: Local, unless the lower level is rehabbed
Caroll: Local
Smith-9th: Local
4th Ave: Local
7th Ave: Local, express midday only.
15th St-Prospect Park: Local
Ft Hamilton Parkway: Local
Church Ave: Local and Express
Ditmas Ave and farther south: Express, stopping at all stops to Coney Island.
This would make more sense, rather than having the express skip all those local stops. That express would be empty.

Someone March 6, 2013 - 7:26 pm

Nice idea.

You can also have the F expresses serve Smith-9th Street, Carroll St, and Bergen St using the switches at Smith-9th. That, however, may cause bottlenecks for the F and G.

Jimmy March 6, 2013 - 8:15 pm

You’d keep WTC open, I guess. Weekends and other times trains would have to terminate there. Or, you could send some (E)’s to Culver and others to WTC. The problem is the merging, at Canal and at Jay-Metrotech.

Jimmy March 6, 2013 - 8:18 pm

Oops, this was for another coment

Andrew March 7, 2013 - 12:05 am

Your proposal would double wait times at all stations except Church. Stations south of Church would have an offsetting benefit in the shorter run time, but stations north of Church would have no offsetting benefit. And the four busiest stops on the line are Bergen, Carroll, 7th, and Church – three of them north of Church. Not only would local riders have longer commutes, their trains would also be overcrowded

By the way, there’s no room for more than 15 tph on the F, because the F has to merge with the 15 tph E in Queens.

ajedrez March 9, 2013 - 3:37 pm

I don’t think they would be overcrowded, because riders north of Church wouldn’t have to share a train with those south of Church. If north of Church (excluding 7th Avenue, since express trains would stop there) still has more ridership, you can schedule slightly more trains starting at Church (say, 8TPH local to Church, 6TPH express to CI).

Plus, you have to consider that there are some riders who can switch off between stations if they live halfway between two of them. They may live marginally closer to Fort Hamilton Parkway than Church Avenue, but if Church has the express service, they’ll walk to Church instead.

Also remember that riders often think the express is automatically faster (that may or may not be true), and will let the local go, so at Church & 7th, you’ll still have more people wait for the express over the local.

Nobody May 30, 2013 - 1:27 pm

How many TPH could you have if an F express stopped before merging with the E? Is there a place for it to turn around?

Alex C March 6, 2013 - 8:57 pm

I’d like to see it, but I’ll be realistic. You can’t squeeze in any more F trains on the IND Queens Boulevard unless you cut some E train runs. From the current 15 tph, you can’t really send more than 3 of those trains per hour express before folks at busy Carroll, Bergen, 4 Ave and Prospect Park get annoyed at losing service. Actually, they’d get annoyed anyways. If the MTA wants to get the E/F balance back to 12/18, then they can add those 3 express runs. Otherwise, just not a very workable idea.

Mike August 15, 2013 - 12:16 pm

Going back to the old 12/18 E/F split and limiting the M to 8 tph is really the only way an F express can work. Split the 18 F trains into 12 F local trains running to/from Church and 6 V express trains running to/from Stillwell.

AlexB March 6, 2013 - 9:13 pm

Four points I think are very important to keep in mind when discussing the Culver express options:

1) CAPACITY One of the reasons the MTA claims it can’t run the service is because they don’t have enough trains. The inverse of this, which I’m surprised no one has brought up, is that using express tracks (even just a third track) increases capacity by increasing speed. For a line that is very crowded, one would think increasing capacity would be an MTA goal, not an excuse to not provide a service!! In other words, express stations soak up riders that would otherwise be on local trains, increasing the local’s reliability and decreasing crowding. Local stations do benefit from express routes!

2) SPEED Between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 7th Avenue, the express tracks take a slight shortcut under Prospect Park while the local tracks operate under streets. I’ve read that the F has to slow down significantly on the local because of its proximity to building foundations. If the train could use the express tracks here, it could save some serious time by maintaining faster speeds over a shorter distance.

3) STATIONS & RIDERSHIP As was just noted by Someone, there are switches between Smith-9th and 4th Ave that would allow trains operating over the express to switch to the local right before three of the line’s busiest stops – Smith-9th, Carroll and Bergen. The express would still use the “extra” express between Fort Hamilton and 7th Avenue that serve South Brooklyn so well. Using the Smith-9th switch, the express would serve stations totaling 60,000 current customers instead of the 35,000 served by only stopping at express stations. 60,000 is a huge chunk of the F’s ridership south of Jay St. Faster service would also draw more riders who currently drive, take a bus or use a different subway.

4) FREQUENCY Everyone is assuming half the trains would run express and half would continue to run local. The MTA could run as few as 10% of the trains express for an hour or two in the morning and evening, inflicting minimal pain on local station riders. Better service would be provided to many customers in South Brooklyn who would likely be willing to show up for specifically scheduled faster trains.

Andrew March 7, 2013 - 12:12 am

1) Capacity on the F is limited to 15 tph, by the merge with the 15 tph E in Queens. The F currently runs out of Brooklyn at 14 tph in the morning. There’s room for 1 tph more. From a capacity perspective, it makes no difference whether there’s express service or not.

2) The express tracks pass underneath buildings. There is a speed advantage, but it’s a small one.

3) So you’re suggesting an express run that bypasses two stations and then makes a slow crossing move back to the local track? I’d be surprised if the total savings were as much as a minute. What’s the point?

4) Running 1-2 expresses per hour would be pointless. Nobody would plan around a highly infrequent service that, if they happened to catch it perfectly, would save them a minute (or even ~4, for the full express run from Church to Jay). And the local behind each of those expresses would be overcrowded, as it would have to pick up a double-size load at each of the local stations.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 8:16 am

The F actually operates at 14 tph limit. Had the Queens Blvd bypass been built, the F could have operated at up to 25 tph, with 14 tph local and 11 tph express in Brooklyn.

And as for your point 4), the MTA prohibits any service to run less than 6 tph (one train every 10 minutes) during rush hours. So, “minimal” service is not possible.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 9:04 am

You can’t run less than 6 tph on any given service during rush hours. That’s a non-starter for your point 4).

Duke March 6, 2013 - 10:25 pm

One wonders what the thought process was behind making 7th Ave an express stop but 4th Ave not. It’s almost as if they were intentionally trying to minimize the convenience of the transfer to the BMT.

Frank B March 6, 2013 - 11:24 pm

More likely had to do with the fact that Park Slope was built up and thriving, and had a major Brooklyn hospital nearby; the 4th Avenue-9th Street Station would’ve served the far less populated Gowanus and its warehouses.

Andrew March 7, 2013 - 12:06 am

7th Avenue is in the heart of Park Slope. 4th is not. From a ridership perspective, the express station is in the correct place.

dkupf March 7, 2013 - 8:41 pm

I think that OP should be transferred to the Dept of Transit Operations. Does anybody agree with me?

Someone March 7, 2013 - 9:26 pm

No. Why?

dkupf March 8, 2013 - 12:59 pm

OP likes to tell people who bring various bus routing proposals to the table, especially people from their own department, that there are budget constraints, yet they are planning five new bus routes throughout NYC.

The problem is that OP reports to the Office of Management & Budget.

Bear in mind that there’s only one other mass transit agency in the USA that reports to the bean counters: the LA County MTA.

If OP was tranferred to the Dept. of Transit Operations, they would be more responsive to the people’s, as well as their own, ideas.

dkupf March 8, 2013 - 1:01 pm

I meant to state “…in the USA where the service planners report to the bean counters: the LA County MTA.”

Nathanael March 9, 2013 - 12:53 am

LA County MTA also works a bit differently in that there, the board *consists of* the county supervisor, the mayor of LA, and a bunch of other directly-elected officials. Among the not-directly-elected officials, two are agents of the mayor of LA.

The mayor has STRONG OPINIONS about service planning; so do a bunch of the other elected officials. As directly elected officials, they listen to what their constituents want. The accountability means that the internal administrative structure is less important; service planning is really being done directly by the politicos.

The MTA board, by contrast, is designed as a layer of insulation so that Mayor Bloomberg does not have to show up and personally vote on what to do. (Mayor Villagairosa DOES have to.) This is unhealthy and allows for unaccountability.

dkupf March 10, 2013 - 1:43 am

I agree.

Having their board comprised of locally-elected officials is the only way they are able to keep the bean counters in check.

BrooklynBus March 8, 2013 - 1:35 pm

Actually OP does not report to OMB. Both OMB and OP report to the Exec VP, but that still does not make them equal partners.

Bus Operations and Subway Operations are two separate departments. There is no Department of Transit Operations. If OP were broken up, then bus Planning and Subway Planning would have to be divided into two separate departments. I don’t see how that would improve anything.

The culture just has to change at the top so that the bean counters don’t have the upper hand. I/m not quite sure how to accomplish that. Some feel that if the City had control of bus and subway operations, that would make the difference. I’m also not sure if that is the answer. It has also been suggested that if the City does gets control, something like the old Board of Transportation would make transit more accountable to the people. Perhaps that is the answer.

dkupf March 8, 2013 - 7:06 pm

I saw the chart a while back, but it’s not on the MTA website. The VP of OP reports to the Senior VP of OMB, who then reports to the Executive VP.

If the subways and buses are returned to the city, they would no longer be able to have the windfall from the Bridges & Tunnels operating budget surplus. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s not a good idea.

Henry March 8, 2013 - 7:27 pm

Personally, I’m of the opinion that DOT should absorb responsibility for the city’s parkways, expressways, bridges, and tunnels, as well as the subway and bus services.

BrooklynBus March 8, 2013 - 10:15 pm

I heard that parkways and expressways were under the control of State DOT, but if that is the case why would City DOT be rebuilding te Belt Parkway Bridges? Does anyone know if State DOT controls anything in the City?

Duke March 8, 2013 - 10:54 pm

The relationship between NYCDOT and NYSDOT is a little complicated. The state owns all of the expressways and parkways in the city… but a lot of the maintenance is left up to the city, as is some of the capital improvement. The two agencies essentially share responsibility for everything. The idea, of course, is that the state can skimp out and force the city to pay for things.

Meanwhile, the numbered highways along local streets (25 on Queens Blvd, US 1 on Boston Rd, etc.) are all entirely city maintained – which is typical for cities throughout the state.

BrooklynBus March 8, 2013 - 11:07 pm


Do you know who is responsible for signage, painting of lanes, and fixing lights so I know who to blame when the job is not done?

Duke March 9, 2013 - 12:11 pm

Either or both. There is a mix of city and state signage out there. Today most of the new signage is state on expressways and city on parkways but this trend is not historically true and won’t necessarily be going forward. You can tell the difference because city signs say “dept of transportation” in small text at the bottom and usually also have some sort of alphanumeric identifier in small text on the sign. State signs have neither.
I’ve seen the city replacing lights on the BRP but I wouldn’t assume it’s always their responsibility.
As for painting the lines, I don’t know but I’d guess it’s also a shared responsibility.

BrooklynBus March 9, 2013 - 2:14 pm


That partially explains why lane markings are not repainted until they virtually all disappear and why some stretches of highway remain dark for six months or more. The lines of responsibility are so muddied that each agency can always blame the other and it may not even be clear to them what their responsibilities are.

Henry March 9, 2013 - 2:04 am

Exactly – it’s the reason why NYC had to go to the Legislature to approve congestion pricing, and why every plan to toll East River crossings has been torn apart in Albany.

I’m not exactly sure why the Legislature has authority when it comes to red-light cameras, speed cameras, and bus lane cameras, though.

BrooklynBus March 8, 2013 - 10:12 pm

Unless control of the bridges and tunnels is also returned to the city. But if that happens you can forget about any state funding at all. And I wouldn’t trust the City. They could just put the transportation revenue into the general fund. Who would stop them?

Henry March 9, 2013 - 2:07 am

It’s a lot easier to push a Council member than it is to push a state legislator to action – they’re generally more receptive and less beholden to a political machine, and there are already scores of pro-transit and pro-alternative transportation Council members.

In contrast, I can’t remember the last time someone was able to correctly name their representative in the state senate or assembly. Most people probably won’t be able to tell you what Assembly or Senate district they’re in, either.

Andrew March 9, 2013 - 9:52 pm

Then the chart you saw was either outdated or wrong. I don’t think OP even has a VP.

BrooklynBus March 10, 2013 - 11:07 am

You are only guessing that the chart is outdated or wrong. You have presented no proof.

OP has a Chief of Operations Planning, not a Vice President. He could easily report to the VP of OMB and the way OP behaves, it is likely that he does, but he may not.

BoerumBum March 8, 2013 - 11:16 am

What are the end points of the Culver line express tracks?

Could service be added as a new train between those two terminals without having to worry about shuffling in with the existing F & G schedules, or does the layout not allow for this?

Ned March 8, 2013 - 2:40 pm

There are two sets of tracks running from lower level of Bergen St in Cobble Hill to Church Ave. Then it’s a single express track in the center from Ditmas Ave to Ave X, where the train would have to be on the local tracks again for the rest all the way to CI. Not so sure there’s a real need or demand for what we might call an “express shuttle” between Bergen and Ave X because most will want a one-seat ride to Manhattan and having to transfer at Bergen back to the F would probably negate the time saved on the express…

Someone March 8, 2013 - 4:24 pm

Or you can use the express tracks in the peak direction during peak hours only (and you can use both express tracks from Bergen to Church).

Ned March 8, 2013 - 5:21 pm

Right, that was what I meant. Sorry I wasn’t clearer. My point is because the express tracks end in Brooklyn (and not at a significant transfer station with multiple options to Manhattan, as Jay St. might be) an express shuttle that ends at Bergen still can’t solve the problem of a two-seat ride to Manhattan with only limited options (getting back on the F local).

Other posters here are making the very valid point that because of coordination with the M from B’way-Lafayette to Rockefeller Center, and the E along Queens Blvd, options aren’t great. Personally, I kind of like the idea of reviving the V, extending it from 2nd Ave to Church as an express, and returning the M back to the “brown” lines. But some Williamsburgers who have a one-seat ride to work in midtown might be unhappy. And of course Domino would only exacerbate this.

Okay, another idea: what if the switching area between Jay St. and Bergen was modified so that 8th Ave/Cranberry St. tunnel trains could have the option of going directly to the Culver express? Then you could run the E into Brooklyn (not sure what to do about WTC) along the C line to Jay St. but then it would continue on Culver Exp. to Church. This would also fix the ridiculously jarring moment every single morning that sends F riders flying into each other, where the express and local Culver tracks meet before heading to Jay St. (why does no one come to expect this, day after day?)

Someone March 8, 2013 - 4:25 pm

Track map 1

Track map 2

FIgure it out.

Jeff March 8, 2013 - 4:53 pm

How about this:

M over 63rd Street – 6 Ave Express – Williamsburg Bridge (avoiding local track completely)
F over 53 Street – 6 Ave Local – Rutgers St – Culver Exp
E over 53 Street, 8th Ave Local until W4, switch to Broadway-Lafayette – Rutger St – Culver Lcl

During off-hours F can replace the M over 63rd St.

This solves the TPH problem in Brooklyn. Since M is on the express there’s no impact from merging of E and F at W4 to that train, plus we remove a bottleneck at Queens Plaza as well. And 6th Ave express has excess capacity to handle the M.

And E & F trains already merge with each other a bunch of times anyway, so once more at West 4 shouldn’t be a biggie.

Ned March 8, 2013 - 5:25 pm

or… Why not keep the E on 8th Ave until Jay Street in BK?

Personally, I think there’s already enough express service on 6th ave.

Henry March 8, 2013 - 7:33 pm

You’re forgetting that the B and D exist…

Ned March 8, 2013 - 5:22 pm

Right, that was what I meant. Sorry I wasn’t clearer. My point is because the express tracks end in Brooklyn (and not at a significant transfer station with multiple options to Manhattan, as Jay St. might be) an express shuttle that ends at Bergen still can’t solve the problem of a two-seat ride to Manhattan with only limited options (getting back on the F local).

Other posters here are making the very valid point that because of coordination with the M from B’way-Lafayette to Rockefeller Center, and the E along Queens Blvd, options aren’t great. Personally, I kind of like the idea of reviving the V, extending it from 2nd Ave to Church as an express, and returning the M back to the “brown” lines. But some Williamsburgers who have a one-seat ride to work in midtown might be unhappy. And of course Domino would only exacerbate this.

Okay, another idea: what if the switching area between Jay St. and Bergen was modified so that 8th Ave/Cranberry St. tunnel trains could have the option of going directly to the Culver express? Then you could run the E into Brooklyn (not sure what to do about WTC) along the C line to Jay St. but then it would continue on Culver Exp. to Church. This would also fix the ridiculously jarring moment every single morning that sends F riders flying into each other, where the express and local Culver tracks meet before heading to Jay St. (why does no one come to expect this, day after day?)

Ned March 8, 2013 - 5:26 pm

double-post: ignore, sorry.

Justin Samuels March 9, 2013 - 6:23 pm

Well, from what other posters are saying, you’d only be able to run limited E service via the cranberry street line. You’d be able to run 7 trains per hour or so. I’m not sure this is worth massive reconstruction efforts, with that level of service they could simply use the switches at Jay Street.

liam May 15, 2013 - 6:12 pm

2 questions:

1: Couldn’t the F run express during rush hours at Stillwell – KH – 18th Avenue – Church – 7th – Jay then back out of Jay and switch over to the local and run back to Stillwell (and vice versa). This would negate the implications down the line and improve service only where it’s needed, and it wouldn’t reduce local service.

2: have we tried plugging in all the ridership data to see what IBM’s Watson or some similar supercomputer would recommend? I’m sure it would need fine tuning, but at least it would be interesting to see what solutions the data would point to (and then you could have fun with the variables).


Leave a Comment