Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) delivered the signatures to transit head Andy Byford at the MTA’s monthly board meeting on Monday — arguing that the scheme throws commuters living between Cobble Hill and Windsor Terrace under the proverbial train in an effort to shorten ride times for southern Brooklynites.
“The current proposal adds no train service whatsoever. It simply eliminates service during rush hour at six local stations — some of the busiest and most used ones on the line, stations that already experience severe overcrowding,” Lander said at the July 22 meeting.
The Transit Authority says adding additional trains to make the arrangement work is impossible due to signal constraints that require long spaces in between trains.
Instead, the plan calls for four existing local trains — two Manhattan-bound trains in the morning, and two Coney Island-bound trains in the evening — to be converted to run express between Jay Street-Metrotech and Church Avenue stations during weekdays. Between those stations, the express F train would stop at Seventh Avenue only, while bypassing six other stations in a service expected to debut this September.
Lander said the potential benefit to commuters would be minuscule, arguing that catching the limited express trains would come down to luck.
“You’d have to be like a lottery winner — more than a lottery winner — to get the benefits,” he said. “You don’t really know which days that you’ll be able to save the up-to six minutes.”
Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D-Cobble Hill) joined Lander in criticizing the Transit Authority at Monday’s meeting, echoing his claim that the MTA is not adding service, but reducing it.
“Getting on those trains now is next to impossible. It will be even more difficult if we are skipping two trains in the morning, and two trains in the afternoon,” she said. “We should be adding service, not reducing service — anywhere in the system.”
Even the Transit Authority agrees that the F express would hurt more riders than it would help, according to Lander, who pointed to a 2016 study published by the MTA that concluded 52 percent of riders would face longer commutes under the new plan.
However, the Authority’s report notes that riders who do benefit from the new express service will save more time on average — about 3.4 minutes — as compared to other commuters, who will only lose 1.3 minutes.
As much as Lander and Simon opposed the new service swap, southern Brooklyn politicians defended the express F train, claiming uptown straphangers can wait the extra minute to ensure their long-suffering southern neighbors get to work on time.
“We’re asking some people in New York City to wait on a platform for approximately a minute more — those who live closest to Manhattan,” said Kalman Yeger (D-Borough Park). “In exchange, those who live further away will see their commutes reduced.”
Coney Island residents, who live on the farthest reaches of the F line, currently travel the longest stretch of exclusively local service in the city — 26 uninterrupted stops between Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue and Broadway-Lafayette Street, where straphangers can transfer to express B and D trains, which run parallel to the F.
In discussing the plight of transit-dense brownstone Brooklyn residents, Lander’s Coney Island counterpart suggested the subway’s shortest busker would play the world’s smallest violin in their honor.
“When I hear other parts of the city complain about commuters that are dragging out to an hour and a half of more — that’s daily life for residents of the west-end of Coney Island,” said Councilman Mark Treyger.