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August 4, 2009 / Brooklyn news / Politics / Election Coverage

Mayor wants F train on fast track — but he doesn’t control the MTA

The Brooklyn Paper

Mayor Bloomberg called for the creation of express subway service on the F line, one of the most crowded routes, as part of a larger campaign announcement calling for a multitude of mass transit improvements — and maybe even the return of trolleys! — for Brooklyn.

“Now is the time to act,” the third-term-seeking mayor said in a statement on Monday.

The multi-pronged package borrowed many old ideas from mass transit advocates that could improve travel in Brooklyn, including:

• Subsidized ferry service in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

• A car-pool lane on the inbound Gowanus Expressway.

• The possible return of trolley-cars to Red Hook and other underserved neighborhoods.

Physically, the mayor’s F-line call could be enacted relatively simply by the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority because there’s an unused track for a zippier ride through stations in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope en route to Coney Island. Bloomberg also called for the extension of the V train, which terminates in Manhattan, to run on the F line out to Coney Island for a one-two punch that Brooklyn hasn’t seen since Jim Gilliam and Pee Wee Reese were at the top of the World Series-winning Dodgers lineup in 1955.

Express trains could stop at currently an unused platform at Bergen Street beneath the existing one, but they would skip Carroll Street, Smith-Ninth Streets and Fourth Avenue before stopping again at Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. From there, they would bypass the Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway stations en route to Church Avenue in Kensington.

But implementing the straphanger-supported proposal for the Culver Line however is off-track until the MTA completes a major renovation of elevated tracks in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens as early as 2012.

The transit authority’s chronic financial woes have squelched many attempts at service improvements in the past, and the mayor’s lack of control over the state body is an obvious hurdle, but an MTA spokesman said that the agency values Bloomberg’s advice, though he refused to address any of his specific proposals.

Instituting the changes is one thing, but the mayor clearly latched onto an already popular idea in Brownstone Brooklyn where up to 89,430 riders board the frequently thronged and off-schedule train every day, up from 83,500 daily riders in 2004. (That tally is imperfect, because New York City Transit can’t separate riders who hop on the G-train at the stations the two lines share.)

Straphangers said the mayor has the right idea.

“I am absolutely in favor,” said Sylvia Musella, at the Jay Street station on Monday. “It is one of the most crowded trains especially in the morning.”

State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Carroll Gardens) heard so many complaints from constituents this spring that he requested a full review of the line by the MTA. That report is due this month.

Other proponents of enhanced service think commuters could shave lots of time off their trips to work and also have some much-needed breathing room.

“Closer to Downtown, you’re talking about a couple of minutes. As you get farther out towards Coney Island you’re talking about potentially saving 20 minutes — that’s huge. But it’s also about the possible alleviation of crowding everywhere,” said Gary Reilly, a Democratic candidate for City Council in Carroll Gardens, who has advocated for years on behalf of the F line. “We need this and we deserve it. It’s a low–hanging piece of fruit.”

But Bloomberg’s overall prescription for Brooklyn gets a mixed review from mass transit mavens.

The Regional Plan Association endorsed the F-train idea, as well as the creation of a high-occupancy vehicle lane on the Gowanus Expressway. But the venerable planning group shied away from the streetcar proposition.

“[It’s] probably unworkable and not cost effective,” the scorecard said. “We should not support this.”

The East River ferry service also got the thumbs down.

“Too optimistic, too soon,” the group noted. “Who will pay for it?”

— with Shannon Geis

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sid from Boerum Hill says:
I am fairly sure there is no second stop at Carroll Street and the one below Bergen Street will need extensive modification(they built something on the old platform). I remember when it was still open and the express running and that was way after 1955- when I was 7......
Aug. 4, 2009, 1:39 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
Bloomberg still favors Manhattan. the city is paying 100% for the extension of the number 7 to the west side. He could offer to pay for the F but won't. Its just campaign pablum.
Aug. 4, 2009, 1:41 am
Eazy D from Sheepshead Bay. says:
How do I switch from the F to the U?
Aug. 4, 2009, 4:19 am
No Hand Grab from Dope Slope says:
Just keep the line out of the neighborhood. Bad enough we have the Ratner Local
Aug. 4, 2009, 4:21 am
Phil from ex-Red Hook Resident says:
Long overdue and discussed to death for years... Bergen St lower level station needs work, Carrol St does not have express stop (bypassed) ..critical path to make this work efficiently is extension of "G" to Church Ave terminus (not Smith 9th St) thereby providing BMT transfer at Fourth Ave stop (very imp and active trf point)..this was right thing to do from 1950's when I lived there and no one could answer why it was never done..and still cannot answer why ignored .. the neighborhood is fantastic (visit frequently) & ridership is very high, the strategy is dead on ..guess that is why it did not get done ?
Good Luck Brooklynites .. really hope you get this upgrade to better future! If so, I will envy you all the years I lived there and did not have the convenience...Bergen St Rocks !
Aug. 4, 2009, 8:52 am
joseph from carroll gardens says:
The morning commute on the F train is ridiculous and the overcrowding is unbearable...I can't remember how many times I've had to wait for the 2nd or 3rd F trains to come down the track b/c there literally was no room to fit on the train - and I'm super skinny! I feel bad for the ladies who have to ride the train as everyone is pressed very tightly together...plus in the summer, its like being caught in a sauna.
Aug. 4, 2009, 11:09 am
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
The downtown platform on Bergen was used occasionally in the 80's and 90's until the MTA renovated Bergen St and sealed it off. It was used in the movie 'Jacob's ladder'.

As far as the Mayor - he does not set policy for the MTA. This is nothing but empty promises to reel in suckers to vote him in for a third term. Don't fall for it! Send the King back to Boston. He is a disgrace. It is time for change.
Aug. 4, 2009, 5:51 pm
Tony G from Cobble Hill says:
There are NO UNUSED Platforms at Carroll St on the express tracks. Only Bergen Street has a lower level with platforms.

Hey, Mike McLaughlin !
Take a ride on the F/G past Carroll towards Smith/9th. You will see the express tracks are ALL TORN UP for major repair work to last a few years.
Aug. 4, 2009, 10:18 pm
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
Mayor Mike is blowing hot air to get his votes lined up. It's all bullterd, if he really wants to do something good he should call for a light rail system to connect the Hook with downtown Brooklyn and use some of his green for this green project!
Aug. 5, 2009, 3:04 am
Jack from WT says:
We don't need an F-express... that doesn't solve anything. Just run more G-trains, and extend the distance they go in Brooklyn past Church (and, if necessary, have the G "skip stops" once it is past Church). Everyone Manhattan-bound will switch at Jay Street/Borough Hall... and there are plenty of A/C trains. Great thing is that we could enact such a proposal today.
Aug. 5, 2009, 8:29 am
chef from Park Slope says:
Why in the world would the F Express skip 4th Avenue? And dont tell me it's because there is no dedicated platform.
There is a switch track before and after the station.
I know because it is used for the G line switches.
The Fourth Avenue Stop is a connecting stop for the R Train?
All Express Trains in the whole of the MTA system make stops where there is a connecting line???
Very stupid way to make a transfer for people living in Sunset Park and Beyond.
Makes no sense at all.

chef
Aug. 5, 2009, 11:52 am
Tony G from Cobble Hill says:
Hey chef.....
Um, NO !!!
On the Coney Island side there is only a switch FROM local to express
On the side heading towards Manhattan there is a switch FROM express to local
Go look on google maps !!!

When the G used to switch at 4th Ave it would cross from the local to the express, reverse on the express track, then cross back to the Manhattanbound express then BACK to the Manhattanbound local.

Um, at 4th ave the D and N bypass the F/G at 4th Ave 9th Street.

Maybe if you go read a history book (or, I dunno, SEARCH THE INTERNET) as to why that part of the subway system is designed like that you would understand.

But its safe to say ITS NOT THE FAULT of the MTA
Aug. 5, 2009, 6:17 pm
anon. from Kensington says:
I have one thing to say to Bloomy and the MTA: we'll drive until you fix the F. Don't like cars? Fix the F. Don't like traffic congestion and aggressive drivers speeding through the Slope and surrounding neighborhoods? Fix the F. Until we have a dependable train line out here, we'll drive.
Nov. 15, 2009, 8:45 am

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