Home Abandoned Stations A few thoughts on the drumbeat for F express service

A few thoughts on the drumbeat for F express service

by Benjamin Kabak

It's a bit dark but the ghosts of Bergen St are visible this weekend as Manhattan-bound F trains run express.

A video posted by Second Ave. Sagas (@secondavesagas) on

Every now and then, due, at times, to the never-ending rehabilitation of the Culver Viaduct or other track work in the vicinity, the F train in Brooklyn runs express between Jay St.-MetroTech and some station farther south. The transit cognoscenti know to look out for glimpses of a ghost station once that F train nears or leaves Jay St., and over the weekend, as the F went express, an eagle-eyed observer could catch the the abandoned lower level at Bergen St.

As ghost stations go, the Bergen St. lower level is hardly a secret. Multiple doors that are often kept unlocked dot the upper level at Bergen St., and the 1999 fire at that station earned headlines. For those in Brooklyn fighting for the restoration of the F express service, the Bergen St. station may or may not be the lynchpin. Trains can bypass the Bergen St. station, but as you can barely see from the video I shot over the weekend, there’s not much there. The station is an abandoned mess of darkness, and the MTA has used parts of it for storage. Yet, it’s future is as intriguing as its mere existence, a shadow of subway past.

The idea behind the F express service is one I have explored at length in the past, and it’s one that has garnered recent attention. The MTA apparently has a report on the idea sitting in a proverbial drawer, and this report has possibly been sitting in this drawer for three years. Yet, no one has seen the report, and politicians have again been agitating for F express service. The idea is an obvious one: The MTA could use dormant and pre-existing infrastructure — in this case, express tracks along the Culver Line to improve service to those more remote areas of Brooklyn. For some commuters, rides could be shortened by 5-10 minutes.

But there is a rub; there is always a rub. As currently configured, F express service would lead to reduced service for some of the F’s busiest Brooklyn stations. Carroll St., Smith-9th Sts., 4th-9th Sts., and 15th St.-Prospect Park, to name a few, would see less frequent F train service, and the ridership from those stations far outpaces the number of riders who would gain a few minutes from the express service. If the MTA can’t rehabilitate the lower level at Bergen St. to permit passenger service — an undertaking that would be quite expensive, according to 2012 comments from one Transit official, another 11,000 riders would see F service slashed. Simply put, based on current load guidelines, the MTA cannot add F express service while maintaining local service frequencies that handle customer demand.

So why not, you may ask, just run more F local trains? It seems like a simple solution, but it’s not quite that easy. Most importantly, the MTA would need additional Manhattan and East River capacity to run more F trains, and based on various F service patterns — interlining with the G in Brooklyn, the M in Manhattan and the E in Queens — the route cannot support additional trains. Second, the MTA doesn’t have the rolling stock to add F express trains. That’s a more solvable, albeit an expensive one, for a solution that seems to create more problems than it solves. Of course, with an additional East River crossing — perhaps a Phase 5 of the Second Ave. Subway were we all to live that long — the problem would be resolved, but now we’re talking in decades rather than years.

Word is that the MTA’s own studies on the F express plan show little to no net travel gains from the F express plan, but the idea is a political hot potato that the agency isn’t comfortable quashing quite yet. So the idea percolates every few months or years as that idea that will save Midwood from its schleppy F train service. I can’t blame anyone from hoping, but that lower level at Bergen St. seems more like a taunt that a promise of future service. Every now and then, we get a glimpse of a different plan, but it remains out of reach, perhaps for good reason.

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Brian H May 16, 2016 - 12:41 am

As I have understood it for years, the only practical way to add F-express service would be to break apart the M-line into something resembling its pre-2010 routing, so that the M ran over the Williamsburg Bridge to the Financial District like the J does, and that a restored V ran from Queens and down the Sixth Avenue line, but instead of stopping at Second Avenue or getting routed over the Williamsburg Bridge, it would continue to the Rutgers Tunnel and onto the Culver line’s express tracks. This way, there wouldn’t be any capacity constraints that don’t already exist where the F and M currently share the same track. (Right?)

The conceit of this idea would be that subway riders along the Brooklyn Broadway elevated are not deserving of a single-seat ride to Midtown. Before the current M route was introduced, a transfer was necessary at Delancey-Essex, and that transfer was some kind of awful, owing to the number of riders making the transfer, the low capacity of the station to handle large numbers of transfers at the staircase chokepoints, and the number of F-trains that were already packed to capacity by the time they reached that station. I would be hard-pressed to tell those riders that they have to go back to such a dark experience just so riders in Midwood and Bensonhurst – at least the ones travelling all the way through to Manhattan – could shave a couple of minutes off their commute.

bigbellymon4 May 16, 2016 - 12:57 am

F express has no affect on the Manhattan section. The only reason your idea of restoring the V and sending it to Brooklyn is to increase service through the Rutgers tube. All F express is doing here is using the current service level and sending it express instead of local through Brooklyn. No effect on the M or E (except for scheduling adjustments on the combined segments: 6 Av lcl tracks and QB Express tracks, and depending on the decreased travel time, only the F will need to be adjusted).

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 11:57 am

With current F frequencies, F express is unsustainable because of either low frequencies on the expresses or overly high crowding on the locals. Increasing F service is difficult because of the capacity crunch in Queens. However, a Church to 96th Street local could be operated, running ~6tph which would allow it, the F, and the M to all operate along 6th Av.

bigbellymon4 May 16, 2016 - 12:49 am

But the real issue is that the F can be express even with the G train being the only service serving the local stops. Church Av and 7 Av only have 2 stops between them, and Bergen Street and 7 Av have 3 stops. How crowded will G trains be when most people will get off at the next express stop? They will need to extend the length of the G trains and run more trains anyway when the L is shut. However, Bergen Street lower level re-opened is a MUST.

1. De-interlining, making service more reliable (F has separate tracks from the G)
2. Commute times reduced
3. G train service can be increased when necessary, especially since it will be sharing it’s tracks with NO ONE (more track space, whenever the R179s come and for the L shutdown)
4. Depending on the decrease in train round trip travel time (via the express), they may reduce the amount of cars for F and apply those elsewhere (the G).

1. Increased wait times (Waiting for the G, then waiting for the F)

Bergen Street lower level repairs will be expensive, but the benefits out weigh the cons here.

Tower18 May 16, 2016 - 9:43 am

All of your pros, except de-interlining, are possible today without a major realignment in service. There is plenty of room for F or G service to be increased (well maybe not the F due to Queens Blvd, but if more service is needed, there is room for more G between Bergen and Church). Commute times would be reduced for say 10 people and lengthened for 50. That’s a con.

F express, without something like SAS or a Manhattan-bound route, is a loser.

F ridership between W 8th and Ditmas Av: 9,275,934 (11 stops)
F ridership at Ft Hamilton, 15th, Fourth Av, Smith-9th, Carroll: 13,311,607 (5 stops)
F ridership at those local stops PLUS Bergen: 17,019,907 (6 stops)

This would make commutes worse for 13 or 17 million people, to make them 5 minutes better for 9 million. The numbers are significantly worse if the F Express is express from Kings Hwy. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

Frank B. May 16, 2016 - 1:09 am

First, Extend the G to Kings Highway, at all times.

During rush-hours, run it express. Problem solved. (Or at least as good as it will get) People get an express train that will help people far down the Culver Line, which still shave a good amount of time off their trip, while still allowing them to easily transfer to the F, A or C trains. Those along the Culver Line will now have more frequent service, (at the express stations at least) and the F train riders in the trendy neighborhoods get to hop on their local F.

Problem solved. (Or at least as well as it could possibly be.)

Tower18 May 16, 2016 - 9:30 am

The G cannot be the express because the express tracks cannot connect to the Crosstown Line. Besides, I don’t think Kings Hwy has the ability to turn enough trains to run a full service.

nbwylcl June 26, 2016 - 9:30 am

frank b. i like this idea, because it at least stop people from complaining. besides, i’m sure most of them could live without the ‘g’.

Eric May 16, 2016 - 4:21 am

– De-interlining is not a big deal here, because the combined frequency of F+G is pretty low.

– Running the F express would end the F/R transfer, which would be bad.

– If the F were express, there would need to be frequent G service to serve the local stops. G service is planned to be frequent for a couple years while the L is repaired, but not otherwise.

Bottom line, this is not justified, except maybe one way for some trains in rush hour, like the 6 or 7 do nowadays.

Larry Littlefield May 16, 2016 - 7:14 am

I suppose they could try turning 8 local F trains and 6 G trains at Church, leaving just 6-7 trains for the rest of the line. But I still think that would lead to crush loading on the F local. They could run 18 F trains and 12 E trains, but they don’t have the money or trains to increase service because it all goes to Generation Greed.

The transfer on two levels never really worked. Those advocating for F express service are really advocating for G only service for inner local stations, 6-8 tph. To get to the 6th Avenue line in Manhattan riders would have to cross over at Hoyt-Schmerhorn, and then transfer again at Jay.

Stephen Bauman May 16, 2016 - 7:49 am

“They could run 18 F trains and 12 E trains…”

That tweak should be avoided.

Headways have to be uniform for schedules to be maintained. A 15/15 E/F permits uniform 4 minute headways on the separate sections and 2 minute headways on the merged section.

There will still be 2 minute headways on the merged section with an 18/12 mix. However, the 18 tph will mean 3:20 headways and 12 tph will mean 5 minute headways.

What happens at the merge with 18F/12E mix? The trains arrive as follows: 0:00(F); 2:00(E); 3:20(F)(1); 6:40(F)(2); 7:00(E)(3)…

1. That 3:20 F has to wait 40 seconds until 4:00 for the track to clear
2. That 6:40 F is 40 seconds late. It’s headway is 2:40 from the previous train. Platforms have 33% more people wanting to get into the train. Dwell times are longer.
3. That 7:00 E must wait 1 minute for the track to clear at the merge point. After the merge delay, it will lose more time because its F leader faces excessive dwell times.

Fbfree May 16, 2016 - 9:56 am

At peak times, the lines already run with an 18/12 split to 179th/Jamaica Center. Jamaica center apparently can’t handle 15 trains per hour.

JE May 16, 2016 - 10:03 am

Just curious: Why is Jamaica Center unable to handle 15 TPH but the WTC terminus can?

Tower18 May 16, 2016 - 10:24 am

I think I remember reading that the X crossover is too far from the station, because it wasn’t meant to be a terminal…something like that.

John Doe Smith May 16, 2016 - 10:28 am

Why can’t they just rebuild the crossover closer to the station?
Or better yet, the trackbed extends east of Jamaica Center. Build tracks there?

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 11:55 am

Costs money and would cause disruption. This is deemed unnecessary when the system’s best terminal, Jamaica/179, is so close by.

John Doe Smith May 17, 2016 - 8:30 am

Dont all improvements necessitate both?

Brooklynite May 17, 2016 - 9:44 am

Almost all improvements do. The point is that in this case the improvement does not justify the disruption.

Stephen Bauman May 16, 2016 - 10:38 am

The crossover is too far away from the station platform. The extra time spent traveling between the crossover and the platform at slow speed reduces the terminal’s capacity.

Larry Littlefield May 16, 2016 - 1:08 pm

I might add that it was built that way because it wasn’t supposed to be a terminal. The plan was for the subway to take over one of the two SE Queens LIRR spurs.

SE Queens NIMBY’s killed it. They didn’t want the “subway people” from near Jamaica coming to their neighborhood, per former Councilcreature Juanita Watkins.

To get around that, one could make the case that instead of connecting to the easternmost LIRR spur, the subway should be connected to the westernmost spur, through the York College Campus. The existing tracks could be hooked up to the J, so BMT Eastern Division would be connected to the rest of the system by something other than the Willie B. But again, its money.

Stephen Bauman May 16, 2016 - 1:55 pm

I might add that it was built that way because it wasn’t supposed to be a terminal.

Neither were Rockaway Ave on the Fulton St Line, Parsons and 169th St on the Queens Blv Line. All managed 15 tph before the Fulton St and Queens Blv Lines were extended to their present terminals.

John-2 May 16, 2016 - 9:04 am

Odds are F express service is never going to happen until Phase III of the Second Avenue Subway is completed, and only them if the MTA opts to tie part of the SAS into the Rutgers tunnel so trains on Seconnd Avenue could run to Brooklyn (and even then, if Phase IV south of Houston was ever built, you’d be back to the same problem of having no capacity north of 63rd Street for a terminal for a Culver Express via Second Avenue, since the T to Hanover Square and the Q via Broadway would take up all the capacity north of 63rd).

John Doe Smith May 16, 2016 - 10:30 am

Simple – phase 3 of SAS contains a track connection to the 63rd line into Queens. You can add another Queens Blvd local. If terminating at Forest Hills is a problem, terminate it at 179 Jamaica.

John-2 May 16, 2016 - 3:13 pm

Might be workable, but your TPH is going to be limited by the number of TPH totals for the M and R lines, combined with the current back-up of trains in evening rush coming into Continental.

You’d need enough trains running Culver express (or local) via Second Avenue during rush hours to convince people to use it instead of the F train, (though I suppose on the Queens Blvd., proble, if they ever reactivated the Rockaway Branch so the M could run to Howard Beach that would clear up part of the jam at Continental).

Kirby F. September 28, 2016 - 9:52 pm

Adding extra TPH to the Queens Blvd Local track isn’t as simple as it seems. If it was that simple, the G Train would still be running to either Forest Hills or 179th Street at all times to this day, but it does not. In fact, when the V Train was being introduced, rush hour service was stimulated on a Saturday with G, R, and V (marked as special), but this test was a failure. When in a second test, but with the G Train removed this time, it was a success because the problem with the first test was too many TPH.

LordDeucey May 16, 2016 - 9:46 am

Is there a way to switch the F to express on 6th Av, the B to local on 6th Av and not change Rutger’s terminal?

Could make an F express more plausible.

Tower18 May 16, 2016 - 9:59 am

6th Av local tracks cannot access CPW

LordDeucey May 16, 2016 - 10:47 am

I’ve been on D trains that ran local on 6th Ave. Iirc, there are switches after 34th and Rockefeller Center. Would using those be too dis tree uptivr for through-goimg M and D trains?

Tower18 May 16, 2016 - 11:00 am

Yes, you can’t use those switches during peak periods. The switching would hold everything up, and the B D and F combined on the express track between 34th and Rock Center are probably too many trains.

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 11:59 am

Exactly. The extra train crossings would make the service pattern unsustainable. An F or B would disallow any other train movements in its direction as it went over the crossover.

aestrivex May 19, 2016 - 4:18 pm

The express tracks between 34 and Rock on 6th avenue held up with BDQ service throughout the 1990s. That was nearly the same tph as the current BDF schedule (swap out the brighton local with the culver local), and wasnt interlined with the 6 av local.

R2 May 16, 2016 - 10:27 am

Like fetch, stop trying to make the F express happen!

John Doe Smith May 16, 2016 - 10:43 am

Why not just run a limited amount of F express trains? The way a limited amount of E’s run express from 179 Jamaica during rush hour.

They could do 4 or 5 TPH during rush hour.

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 11:59 am

By that point, riders south of Church would spend more time waiting for it than they would save by riding it.

Astoria rider May 17, 2016 - 8:27 am

Install countdown clocks.
No one is forcing anyone on an express train.

Brooklynite May 17, 2016 - 9:47 am

But what’s the point of running the service if half the section’s riders are better off not waiting for it?

Michael549 May 16, 2016 - 11:06 am

Here’s the basic problem with F-Express service in Brooklyn,

There are the technological issues of trains – tracks – stations and switches. There’s also the political argument – and it is the political argument that actually happens to be most important. It is the elephant in the room that does not get talked about.

During the rush hours the F-train runs 15 trains per hour from Kings Highway to 179th Street, Queens – that’s a train every 4 minutes. For the riders in Midwood and Park Slope, Brooklyn, that means direct trains to Manhattan every 4 minutes with additional service from G-trains.

Train service every 4 minutes at “outer borough” local stations direct to Manhattan would be a dream in and for many city neighborhoods. The majority of Brooklyn F-train riders have had such service for DECADES!! Plenty of neighborhoods in NYC simply do not have that frequency of service.

Now just what communities WOULD WILLINGLY EVER GIVE THAT UP?

Every few months to every few years on another transit forum that I belong to there are the usual debates about the providing Brooklyn F-train express service. There are periodic debates about the 79th Street station, and the Loch Ness monster.

Plenty of folks have tried, mightily tried to come up with various routing schemes and schedules to replace the “every 4 minutes train service to Manhattan”. Some folks have even “ripped up subway map” – re-arranging train routes all over the city to among other things provide F-train express service in Brooklyn. Others expected the Park Slope riders to change trains or simply wait longer for service. Replacing that “4 minutes between trains direct to Manhattan” is a very tall order. Attempting to simply add extra service on top of what’s already provided is a heck of a lot harder – many minds were fried in the effort.

This is basically a case of leaving well enough alone.

LordDeucey May 16, 2016 - 1:50 pm

So what about a peak period K express down 8th Av from 168th to Hoyt running express with the F to Kings Hwy? Would that overload 8th Av between Canal and Hoyt?

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 9:43 pm

That would overload the Cranberry tubes (between Fulton and High St), and the switches at Jay Street. There’s no way to get from the A/C to the G at Hoyt, or for a G to go express at Bergen, so I assume that’s what you meant.

Track maps: http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/.....Track_Maps

LordDeucey May 17, 2016 - 8:31 am

Looking at the track maps, I meant Jay St, since the AC run via the F during construction. But in order for that trip to work (K express) it would either switch at West 4th or Jay St, which I think is a cumbersome process.

Guess there’s no good way to make an Culver express happen.

Tom May 16, 2016 - 11:10 am

I’m a Church Ave customer, and while I’d love the extra few minutes that the express F would give me, many of the arguments against it seem sensible.

I do think (maybe wishful thinking) that some of the potential capacity issues could be resolved by sending the F express elsewhere (like up the 6th Avenue express or 8th Avenue local or express- even from Jay Street).

But, if all that is moot, I’d vote have the G run express between Church Ave and Smith/9th Streets. In practice, have the G start/terminate on the same track as the F causes a fair amount of slowdowns that could be avoided, and there would hopefully be less push back from the few stations that would lose one-seat G service.

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 12:02 pm

Sending any Fs via anything except 6th Avenue Local in Manhattan would add switching on congested track, causing delays. Selected extra F’s could run to 96th/2nd, though…

The G going express would needlessly require a transfer for Fort Ham, 15th, and 4th Av riders, as well as remove the R train transfer. You’re right though, the reversing procedures at Church need to be improved.

Matthew May 16, 2016 - 11:29 am

The solution to the F Express is very simple. Run the F like the 6 runs in the Bronx.

Short-turn F trains at Church Ave, and run those local from Church to Bergen. It will be slightly reduced service from currently, but those heavily used stations will get empty trains with seats available & direct service to Manhattan.

F trains from south of Church Ave are full already, and run express between Church Ave & Jay St. If a PM rush hour rider accidentally gets on an F instead of an , they can transfer at Jay St, 7th Ave or Church Ave.

This creates 2 “zones” like the 6. An additional benefit is that the riders south of Church Ave don’t have to wait in a conga-line at Church Ave for F & G local trains to dump their passengers.

Matthew May 16, 2016 - 11:31 am


“Accidentally gets on an F instead of an <F>”

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 12:04 pm

The segment north of Church has significantly more ridership than south of there, so it would get sufficiently more trains than the southern portion that the southern part would lose more time waiting for the train than they would save riding it.

David Brown May 16, 2016 - 12:08 pm

I have been away from NYC for 2.6 years, and it is shocking that Culver Viaduct work is not finished. I wonder what is still uncompleted? I happen to believe that Bergen St will be fixed up probably after the L Train work is done. Why? Because the MTA knows that stuff like the expanded G Train will not go away (same with the free connection to and from the J & M @ Broadway ( Brooklyn)), People will scream and shout once Rutgers Tunnel is shut down ( and having to transfer @ Jay Street to take the A, C or R to get to Manhattan) and the way that they will molify those people is a rebuilt East Broadway Station ( which is a toss up between that and West 4th Street as the most disgusting F strain stop), and F Express.

Tower18 May 16, 2016 - 2:15 pm

Why do you think Rutgers would be shut down? Why wouldn’t they do the inverse of the Cranberry Tunnel work (F via Cranberry nights and weekends)?

Michael549 May 16, 2016 - 3:44 pm

There have been G.O.’s – maintenance periods where the F-train (either to/from Brooklyn, or one side at a time) has been routed through the A & C train Cranberry Street tunnel, with shuttle buses servicing the by-passed Manhattan F-train stations. Those F-trains would simply re-join the Sixth Avenue line at the West 4th Street station.


Tower18 May 17, 2016 - 7:26 pm

I’m not even sure you need shuttle buses anymore, with the rerouting of the M and the creation of the M15 SBS.

Riders at East Broadway can take M15 to Delancey or Grand St D train station (granted it’s a short walk, but East Broadway is not accessible).
Riders at Delancey can take the M
Riders at 2 Av can walk to Delancey, Broadway-Lafayette, or take a bus
Riders at Bway-Lafayette can take D or M to W4.

And that’s if they go the full shutdown like with Cranberry. If they do one tube at a time, yes this is just like very frequent weekend GO work.

Michael549 May 18, 2016 - 1:43 pm

There have been G.O.’s – maintenance periods where the F-train (either to/from Brooklyn, or one side at a time) has been routed through the A & C train Cranberry Street tunnel.

By definition – these G.O.’s or maintenance periods occur during the late evenings (midnight hours), on weekends – and sometimes during the mid-day weekdays for some outer borough sections of trackage.

Meaning the M-train in your reply is simply not a factor! For the past few decades – M-train service on the weekends or the late evenings (midnight hours) was simply a shuttle operation servicing the M-line only stations in Bushwick Brooklyn. Only recently has the weekend M-train been extended to Delancey Street or Chambers Street during the day-time hours – which is of little help getting F-train riders along Sixth Avenue or Queens when the Rutgers Street Tunnel is out of service.

The Cranberry Tunnel which carries the A & C trains has not had a “full shut-down” – except during the period years ago when there was a fire at an important signal relay room. During the decades long construction of the Fulton Transit Center, and including the after-math of Hurricane Sandy – A & C have been regularly diverted for weeks and months at a time often to and from Brooklyn by the F-train’s Rutger’s Street Tunnel.

When the Rutger’s Street Tunnel has needed repair work, F-trains are diverted between Manhattan Brooklyn by the Cranberry Street (used by A & C trains), with shuttle buses covering the by-passed Manhattan stations.


Andrew May 16, 2016 - 12:20 pm

I live near the 15th Street/Prospect Park station. Why not have every third or fourth Manhattan-bound F train run express from Coney Island to Church Avenue, and then local from Church Ave to Jay Street? Stations closer to Manhattan (which Ben indicates have the most passengers) will maintain frequent service while more distant stations which have fewer passengers get a periodic express train. If every third or fourth F runs express to Church Ave, the reduction in service at local stops shouldn’t be too great.

Michael549 May 16, 2016 - 12:53 pm

As in return to the service pattern that existed on the Brooklyn F-line in the 1980’s because Park Slope residents complained about the express service that skipped their stations? Park Slope residents complained of the different frequencies of service between the local King-Highway F-trains and express Coney Island F-trains. At the time Park Slope politicians campaigned for making ALL F-trains local from Jay Street to Church Avenue at all times, and especially for the morning rush hours!! The politicians saw this as increasing train service for their residents aka voters. Which was done!!

In the 1990’s the current pattern of having all F-trains make all local stops was created. The removal of a very important switch on the Manhattan bound side of the approach to the Kings Highway station means that local F-trains that originate at Coney Island (or Avenue X) can NOT be switched to the center express track for the journey TO Manhattan. Journeys from Manhattan can run express in a variety of configurations, however there are fewer express configurations for the trips to Manhattan. This is a point that has been well discussed for years!

Please! The ideas of trying to revive an F-train Brooklyn express has been hashed over, rehashed, stirred and rehashed again repeatedly. Unless there are some major changes along the Manhattan and Queens trunk lines, an F-train Brooklyn express is not going to happen – while still retaining the 4-minutes between local trains on the F-train Brooklyn stations.

Again, what community actually ASKS for a REDUCTION in local train service?


Marc May 19, 2016 - 4:25 pm

Park Slopers who use 7th Avenue have been calling for the restoration of express service for years. They love the idea of being one stop from Jay Street and no longer having to compete with passenger who use Bergen to 4th for seats.

Brooklynite May 16, 2016 - 9:47 pm

What would this accomplish? The ridership (and frequency) of the stations south of Church (especially south of KH) is low enough, so having selected almost-empty trains saving two or three minutes by skipping Avs U, P, N, Bay Pkwy, and I just isn’t worth it for anybody. In general, running infrequent express services is a bad idea because people will spend longer waiting for them than they will save riding them.

Rick May 16, 2016 - 5:10 pm

Easy solution: During rush hours run the F train express and run a V train between Church Street and 2 nd Av. V train riders boring at 4th Av, Smith-9th, Carroll and Bergen could switch to the A at Jay Street, the tJ, Z or M at Delancey, and the F anywhere north of Jay on the same platform. The Rutgers St tunnel can easily handle the extra traffic and the G would share a track to Church only with the V.

Rick May 16, 2016 - 6:25 pm

BTW, this would require the installation of switch tracks east of Second Av, (where the middle tracks have tail tracks east of the false wall).

Michael549 May 17, 2016 - 2:10 am

The “express tracks” of the 2nd Avenue-Houston Street accepts and returns trains coming from the west side (to/from Broadway-Lafayette Streets) and not from Delancy or Essex Streets. Basically those “express – layup tracks” are pointed in the wrong direction for your purpose. Immediately west of the 2nd Avenue-Houston Street platforms is the trackage for the B, D & M tracks to join the Sixth Avenue line – meaning there’s no space to put another layup track even if the 2nd Avenue-Houston Street station could accept the proposed V-trains on the “express – layup tracks”.

Please note that as the F-train both enters and leaves the 2nd Avenue-Houston Street station both to/from the Delancey / Essex Street stations, it does so by passing UNDER those “express – layup tracks” – as simple observation and the posted track maps show. Those “express – layup tracks” were intended to become a part of the IND Second System and become a part of the South 4th Street station complex in Brooklyn. Those tracks are a remant of an un-built IND expansion where possibly Sixth Avenue express trains would service those lines, however instead the Sixth Avenue express trains were routed to south Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge to Coney Island.

In the debates over the removal of the V-train and the expansion of the brown M-train to its current orange version, plenty of online transit forum folk repeatedly described the 2nd Avenue-Houston Street station as “no where”. As in sending the V-train to “no where” in Manhattan in contrast to then new orange M-train being described connecting two well traveled major segments.

So just how useful would your proposed “V-train” that ends at 2nd Avenue-Houston Street be to the riders that would take it? The F-train and M-train are often described as very useful because these routes take riders directly to the heart of mid-town. Previous ideas of extending a proposed “V-train” to Brooklyn along with the F-train was seen as very useful because of the direct to midtown nature of the route.

Just some questions.

Rick May 18, 2016 - 3:20 am

Yes, Mike, those are fair points. Using the center tracks at 2nd Av to layup V trains from Church Avenue would require new construction – the installation of switch tracks east of the 2nd Av station. Would this limited “train to nowhere” be worth the trouble? I think so. Some passengers of this hypothetical V train are only trying to get to Jay Street. Some are headed to Williamsburg or Chinatown and only need to get to Delancey Street. The multitude that wish to continue up 6th Av would change to the F; they’d be served no fewer F trains than are running now. There would be no more crowding than there is today — actually less. Using the Rutgers Street tunnel for both F’s and V’s would greatly increase rider convenience and reduce crowding at the same time — all for the price of a couple of switch tracks.

Patrick May 17, 2016 - 11:05 am

Looks like the MTA just gave it the green light.

Tower18 May 17, 2016 - 7:35 pm

I have to imagine there are two options here:

(1) This will never make it past board review. Everyone will get to say they tried, but the issue is put to bed.

(2) It gets past board review and is implemented. Service is so terrible between Jay and Church that CB6 and CB7 lose their collective minds, plan is halted, “we told you so”, now the issue is put to bed.

Seriously, 50% reduction in service for the Church-Jay segment? Watch it burn.

Michael549 May 17, 2016 - 12:16 pm

From the article:

“The downside of the proposal is that riders at local stations in brownstone Brooklyn that will be skipped over by express trains will see a 50% reduction in service and have to wait longer for trains.”

Again I ask what community actually ASKS for a REDUCTION in local train service?

Anybody want to bet that the areas that will get LESS service will NOT complain and instead clamor for the existing arrangement? Especially since the “brownstone Brooklyn” section mentioned happens to be the more populated section.

The debate continues …


Flava_Nation May 17, 2016 - 12:56 pm

My guess is that there will be some kind of diamond F service, that will only have a few runs during the peak hour. I don’t know what the TPH of the F currently is during the peak hour, but I can’t imagine there being anymore than around 4-6 trains per hour that run express. I’m thinking this will be somewhat along the lines of the 4 express service along the Jerome Avenue Line in the Bronx a few years ago. That express operation only had a few select trains run down the center express track during rush hours.

Caelestor May 17, 2016 - 2:58 pm

The biggest benefit behind the express (F) service isn’t to save riders time; it’s to reduce the fleet requirement. As the press release states, only the (F) trains that are currently short-turning at Kings Highway will run express; all Coney Island trains are still running local to 179 St. By reducing the end-to-end times of the rush hour supplemental trains, some of the (F) cars can be reallocated to other lines. As a side benefit, the MTA wants to clear some congestion when the (G) merges with the (F) at Bergen St.

On that note, let’s take a look at how riders at local stations are impacted. It appears as if they will have 4 minute headways, with alternating (F) and (G) trains. The main issue involves the (G) train riders, who will have to transfer back to the (F) somehow. Since Hoyt-Schermerhorn won’t work, the lower level of Bergen St is the only alternative, and it has to be put back into service if this operating plan is to become permanent.

John-2 May 17, 2016 - 6:18 pm

The big losers here will be the passengers at Fourth Avenue, Smith-9th, Carroll and Bergen Street, if the lower Bergen express platform isn’t reopened.

Under the old express set-up during AM rush hour, passengers getting on at Fourth Avenue, Smith-9th or Carroll had the option to take the G to Bergen and then wait near the stairs for the next F train — either the local on that platform or the express downstairs. If the new F express runs non-stop from Seventh Avenue to Jay Street, there’s no possible benefit in taking the first train that comes along, because there’s no way past Seventh Avenue for the G to connect with anything but the F local behind it.

PM rush is just as bad. Passengers under the old system could take the first F that came along in Manhattan or at York or Jay and then if the first F was an express, change upstairs at Bergen for G train or F local, whichever came first. If the lower level remains closed, they’re stuck either waiting for the F local, or doing the roundabout transfer to the A/C at Jay and then the G at Hoyt. They’re not going to be happy campers about those options.

Larry Littlefield May 17, 2016 - 8:24 pm

“It appears as if they will have 4 minute headways, with alternating (F) and (G) trains.”

Who says? Seven F trains is an 8.6 minute headway to Manhattan. Add the 6 G trains and you have a 4.6 minute headway, with a second transfer.

My guess is the expectation is service will be bad enough to drive people off the line. Those at 7th Avenue can take the express, unless it will by bypassed too. Those at 4th Avenue can take the R. Some of those now riding at Bergen Street will walk farther or take the bus.

The rest are out of luck.

Astoria rider May 17, 2016 - 1:48 pm

All one needs to do is look at the queens blvd line.
Despite probably not being any faster (due to rush hour delays), despite not being able to get a seat, people at 74/roosevelt will take the E/F over the M/R to get to Manhattan just because it is express.

Point is people will wait for an express if they have the choice, leading to emptier fully local trains.

David Brown May 18, 2016 - 9:01 am

This is a good news. I wonder if it is the first step to something bigger? I know the City has big plans for Coney Island, and having an Express go to and from there during the Summer Months makes economic sense. Here is my question? If Bergen Street is reopened, can that add more F Trains to accomplish that? if see there are a lot of posters who are more technically advanced on the subject of F trains then me ( speed number of trains that can be run etc). Does anyone have the answer to that question?

Tower18 May 18, 2016 - 10:24 am

If that were the plan, the F is the worst of all the lines running to Coney Island. The N Express was already used as Coney Island super express years ago. Assume the D is out of the question because it’s only 3 tracks, so then you’re looking at a weekend B.

But no the F is the worst of all those options.

David Brown May 18, 2016 - 9:43 am

I was just reading more about this, and it looks like it will cost $75m to reopen Bergen Street, and people in Northern Brooklyn are not happy about the F Express return. The good news is they will be getting more G Service going forward ( due to the L Shurdown). Maybe the compromise solution is permanent extended G Service and Bergen Street reopening. As far as the R Transfer is concerned, cry me a river, People can still transfer at Jay Street and it is a quicker transfer ( I have done both).

Astoria rider May 18, 2016 - 1:53 pm

75 million just to slap in some new tiles.
Jebus christ.

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. May 18, 2016 - 11:29 am

Welcome to the world of George Orwell’s “Animal Farms” in this situation, where it benefits one particular group over another. If you want F Express Service, then add more permanent G Local Service with more subway cars. In addition, the signal system on the northern section of the IND Culver Line needs to be modernized with Communication Based Train Control.

lordgh May 23, 2016 - 4:16 am

That is what they are going to do anyway which would make the F local redundant(church to jay segment) Plus if bergen lower levels are put back in service then the F won’t even need to make local stops between jay and church as 7th and bergen are transfer points for local and express and the MTA can simply eliminate the choke point at carrol or when the G and F merge thus eliminating any sharing and interlining related delays between the G and F in brooklyn resulting in improved reliability for both G & F riders.

Matt May 19, 2016 - 2:57 pm

The whole reason this F Express is happening is probably because the MTA needs to run more G train service to compensate for the L train Shutdown that is going to happen. Once they do that, they will need to reduce the number of F trains on the local tracks because the interlining before Carroll Street probably will become a huge backlog/holdup with added local service, so they are going to maintain the same number of ‘local’ trains by adding more G service, and then running the rest ‘Express’. It’s a way for the MTA to spin this as an ‘add’ to service, when it’s really just a necessity caused by the L Train Shutdown. They are going to start it this summer to ease into any quirks/issues.

Matt May 19, 2016 - 2:57 pm

Apologies – i meant the interlining before Bergen St.

nbwylcl June 26, 2016 - 8:38 am

idea; Run all F train express to church avenue or jay st and local south from church street.

get riders use to hoyt schmerhorn transfer to the “A” or “C’

Increase the ‘G’ frequency for missing ‘f’ service.

do not open bergen, because it expensive.

nbwylcl June 26, 2016 - 8:44 am

idea; Run all F train express to church avenue or jay st and local south from church street.

get riders use to hoyt schmerhorn transfer to the “A” or “C’

Increase the ‘G’ frequency for missing ‘f’ service.

do not open bergen, because it expensive

nbwylcl June 26, 2016 - 9:19 am

the reason why i like this is because of simplification. when u split the same service, in return coordination is more difficult to maintain. for instance, what happens to some of those “f’ trains when they enter jay street? u have either bunching or large spaces (waits). that might not be a problem in Manhattan, but it will be a problem in queens. The ‘e’ must keep to schedule and with two competing ‘f’ services, it won’t. u will have one over crowded ‘f’ and useless ‘f’ behind it. and if the ta manages to hold the second ‘f’ for adequate spacing, u better hope it wasn’t an express ‘f’, because all your time savings is out the window!

i proposal only peak direction express. what difference does it make to run an express non peak if the traffic is going the opposite direction? besides, anything south of church must be in the peak direction.

also, what i heard, the ‘f’ is in a very bad place to have express south of church avenue. u have the ‘b’ and ‘q’ and the ‘n’. if someone should get an express, it should be the ‘westend” ‘d’. however, that would mean returning the ‘m’. no one likes the ‘m’ though. it was dependable according to schedule, but it did not go where people wanted to. a mild form ‘g’. it somewhat functioned like the ‘w’ or ‘r’ line, because it at least traveled to manhattan. but most people want midtown. on a brighter note, the ‘m’ line does have some of the best connections in lower manhattan. but getting to it is quite difficult in most stations.


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