Hating on the G train has become something of a New York pastime over the past few years. Even people who have no reason to ride the IND Crosstown deride it as an unreliable train. “The G sucks” is a common refrain, if only because it’s what we’re supposed to say.
Lately, with the Riders Alliance (full disclosure: I’m a board member) pushing for necessary and important G train improvements — a full line review, out-of-system transfers — that could boost ridership, G train derision has made a comeback, and the claims are perfectly outlandish. Apparently, on top of being allegedly unreliable, the G train also breaks up relationship. DNA Info’s Meredith Hoffman has this dispatch from some borough-crossed lovers:
Former Park Slope resident Christie Walsh remembers in detail the night she made a trip to Greenpoint and ended up going home with a guy she’d met at a bar. He became her boyfriend — but after a couple of early treks to his place she learned never to venture there during their six-month relationship.
“I always refused to go there,” said Walsh, 26, who now lives in Sunset Park. “After a couple of punishing rides on the G train I decided I wouldn’t do it… Eventually he moved to California. The funny thing is, I’d date someone in California, because I’d like to go to California. I’d never like to ride the G train.”
Walsh and some other Brooklynites say the G train’s slow and unpredictable service has sabotaged relationships — and some have even sworn off G-train dating altogether. “I had to make a rule that was, literally, if you live off the G you’re not for me,” said Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Mutale Nkonde, 26, who lives off the A and C trains, and said getting anywhere off the G involved a nightmarish array of transfers and usually getting lost. “To get to the G is such a monumental hike, it’s two buses plus a long walk.”
The story is replete with other tales of woe. A couple who splits their time between Clinton Hill and Greenpoint claim the G keeps the pair apart more often than they’d prefer. “He lives 3 miles away and it takes 45 minutes, at a minimum, to get there,” one half of the pair said. “So that takes nearly two hours just to see each other. I’m glad it’s there but it’s still a huge pain.”
Others still bemoan the state of the G line’s infrastructure and the problem with short trains. “The thing about the G is it comes middle of platform so if you’re dressed in high heels you have to run what feels like 7 miles to catch the train,” one woman said. “When you get there it looks ‘Law and Order’-ish.”
I have to wonder though if the G train is to blame or if the city’s Manhattan-centric transit options are the real culprits. The G train isn’t that bad. As long as it’s not short-running to Bedford/Nostrand or suffering some other GO service change, it runs regularly and on schedule. I find it to be one of the more reliable lines in that if I miss a train, I know the next one will come after the allotted headway has elapsed and no sooner. The trains are short, and rush hour rides are crowded. But these complaints focus around night time, off-peak service.
As far as cross-borough (or even cross-neighborhood) coupling goes, I’d rather be stuck with the G train than, say, the R or the C. I find waits for those lines to be interminable and less reliable than the Crosstown local train. Plus, once the G arrives, the trip from one end to the other is reasonably speedy whereas the R and C tend to crawl.
But as silly as these relationship complaints are — a strong relationship with two committed partners should withstand no matter the subway line — the story highlights the problem of intra-borough travel. Some areas of the city just aren’t well connected via subway, and the north Brooklyn-to-south Brooklyn transit options are limited. Cross-Bronx travel and many intra-Queens trips suffer the same fate.
Fixing this problem isn’t easy. We’re not going to see new subway lines provide these connections, and buses carry their own sets of reliability issues. The upcoming CitiBike program will solve a lot of problems, notably those Clinton Hill/Greenpoint rides that would take 20 minutes of pedaling. But otherwise, we’re left with the subway system we have until someone is willing to spend the time, money and political capital on expanding it. As long as the city can provide those last-mile modes of transit though, even the shakiest of relationships shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of the G train.