The MTA will run limited service on the F line most weekends this summer as work continues on a signal upgrade project, leaving Coney Island residents frustrated.
While the project is underway, service to the last 12 stops on the line will be cut nearly every weekend beginning April 28 until September 11. On the affected dates, F trains will not run from Ditmas Avenue to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue from 9:30 p.m. on Friday until 4:30 a.m on Monday. Regular service will continue between 179th Street and Church Avenue.
The agency started the initiative to improve delays caused by old signals from Church Avenue to West 8th Street early this year, and plan to wrap it up this fall. Service on that stretch of track is among the least reliable in the city, according to the MTA, mostly due to the 70-year-old signals.
Lucy Diaz, chairperson for Community Board 13, said Coney residents already do not have enough transit options and “are always experiencing extreme service cuts,” so removing one line for an extended time could be detrimental.
“We’re obviously concerned,” she told Brooklyn Paper. “Now to have additional cuts, it’s unbearable for us.”
Diaz said she is taking the situation to the community board, and the team will draft a letter to the MTA, explaining how stations are already overcrowded and residents still need to get around in the summer.
Micheal Silverman, president of the board of directors at Warbasse Houses in Coney Island, said the change will make it increasingly difficult for the older residents in the area to travel.
“That would be very difficult for our residents as far as going to doctors appointments or just going to visit a friend or going to the city,” Silverman told Brooklyn Paper. “As far as this summer, another line not going into Coney Island – our seniors without question are being affected.”
As alternatives to the F, the MTA recommends traveling on the D, N and Q lines or local buses, however Silverman says these other stations are further for the community which is home to a large senior citizen population.
“To walk to Brighton [Beach] station is quite a walk on good days. Now picture that if you have a walker or what have you. To be able to walk that distance never mind hopefully you’re able to navigate the steps as well there,” Silverman said.
Unlike other instances where pre-planned maintenance causes significant changes to service, the MTA will not offer any free shuttle services along the restricted stations – a “myopic” decision in Silverman’s opinion.
“It’s foolish to even think of not offering the bus service to be able to get to where you need to go. While we have a couple of bus stops here, they don’t go in the same direction and as directly as the transportable buses would be able to to make up for the F train loss,” he said.
The department, which is controlled by the state government, will be monitoring ridership throughout the outage to determine if changes need to be made, according to a MTA spokesperson.
“The weekend service changes on the F line is part of the MTA’s most ambitious signal modernization in the history of the NYC subway which will provide major benefits to riders,” the rep said. “As with all track work projects, the MTA is monitoring ridership during the outages to determine if adjustments are necessary and/or possible, including implementation of service alternatives.”
Council Member Ari Kagan said he shares residents’ frustrations and blasted the agency for failing to implement a shuttle alternative.
“The F train service cuts happening this summer are absolutely horrible. The MTA must stop this nonsense of constantly cutting service to Coney Island,” he said in a statement. “At the very least, a shuttle bus must be provided during the service disruptions so people are not stranded.”
Silverman says that, while locals will appreciate a more reliable service, MTA may need to reassess their plan of action.
“I know that the work needs to be done but there are ways to help our people get to where they need to go and to not have that bus service would just be ridiculous,” Silverman said.