For New Yorkers and the MTA, an inconvenient truth is looming ever larger. On August 3, the R train’s Montague Tube will close for 14 months as MTA contractors rebuild the tunnel from the ground up in order to repair damage from Sandy. Meanwhile, in three weeks, the G train tunnel will begin its summer of shutdowns, and that work is set to stretch into next year. We’re only just getting started.
Ultimately, there’s an end in sight for this inconvenience, but it’s years into the future. The L train’s Canarsie Tube has run into problems lately, and other East River crossings are not well off. It’s easy to close the R train as nearby stations and more reliable subway lines provide redundancies, but as we’ll see in a few weeks, nearly every other train line is tougher to replace. The G train, in particular, poses some problems as it is the only subway link between Long Island City and Brooklyn that doesn’t involve a circuitous trip through Manhattan.
As the MTA gears up for the G train shutdowns and extended service changes, the agency is trying to assess alternate service. Greenpointers are resigned to the fate of a shuttle bus, but politicians are already angling for a different solution. As ridership north of Nassau Ave. isn’t overwhelming, the latest craze sweeping the city’s transportation system could help. The solution may lie in bike share.
I haven’t written too much about Citi Bike since the program started a few weeks ago, but last May, I examined how it can solve the first mile/last mile problem. With the successful launch of Citi Bikes, New York’s officials have called upon anyone listening to fund an expansion into areas impacted by Sandy, and the Daily News reports that the MTA may oblige. We could have MTA bikes soon enough.
Pete Donohue has the story:
The first expansion of Citi Bike could be to Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods that are facing extensive subway outages to allow post-Sandy repairs on the G train.
MTA and Bloomberg administration officials are exploring an accelerated Citi Bike expansion to Long Island City, Queens, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, sources said. The possibility of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority picking up some or all of the cost is one focus of the talks, sources said.
“It’s an active discussion,” a transit source said. “We recognize the G train serves an area without other subway options.”
Details are, of course, scarce at this early stage, but Donohue notes that Greenpoint and Long Island City were originally part of the initial bike share roll out before Sandy destroyed some of the equipment. Still, this is a nearly ideal situation for the area. Since ridership at these G train stations isn’t overwhelming, bike share could make a significant dent in bridging the gap between Court Sq. and Nassau Ave. It is, in fact, that first mile/last mile problem laid bare for all to see.
A MTA-funded portion of bike share would raise a number of questions — including those surrounding its future once the Greenpoint Tube is repaired and branding discussions — but these are problems that can be overcome. Already areas of the city without bike share are clamoring for it, and with numerous transit shutdowns on tap, it’s time to ramp up expansion.