The G has been caged once more.
On Monday the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ended the free transfer between the Broadway G station and the nearby Lorimer Street J and M station as it completed repairs to a Hurricane Sandy-damaged tunnel below Newtown Creek. The transit agency has no plans to bring back the free transfer anytime soon, said Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz. The move comes despite protests by activists, pols, and forward-thinking articles by this paper.
The return of the charge for the above-ground transfer is insufficiently fair, straphanger activists said at a protest the week before the other shoe dropped.
“The G always has to beg for minor improvements,” said David Estrada, a member of the transit advocacy group the Riders Alliance who lives off of the 15th Street–Prospect Park G stop. “The MTA seems to be just grudgingly giving it little concessions.”
Transit honchos instituted a free transfer between the two stations for the duration of the five-week outage of G service to Queens to allow for the repair work. Riders Alliance members, pols, and this paper have long called for the transfer to be made permanent along with a similar over-land transfer between the Fulton G and the Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center hub.
G riders transfer to other lines at a higher rate than riders of any other subway line and twice the rate of the average straphanger, according to authority data. In 2013, 2,300 Brooklyn Local riders made the move between the Broadway and Lorimer stops on weekdays, even though they had to pay, the data shows. A transit rep said his office could not provide numbers on how many people availed themselves of the transfer while it was free.
One pol suggested that the train, which is also the only route that doesn’t suffer the indignity of entering Manhattan, is meant to feed the other lines and that the Williamsburg transfer is a logical addition.
“The G is really all about connectivity. And connectivity between the G and J–M would fundamentally change what the G train means,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Williamsburg). “Let’s take a good thing and make it last longer.”
A spokeswoman for the state-controlled authority said the switch was only a stopgap measure to lighten the inconvenience of the Queens disconnect and that it’d be too expensive to keep.
The agency’s 2014 budget is $13.5 billion. It said in a 2013 report that it stands to lose $770,000 annually by keeping the Broadway–Lorimer transfer free.