‘The gain must match the pain’: Pols demand ‘full upgrade’ of G train during planned shutdown

g train at carroll street
Politicians say the MTA must make big improvements to the G line during a planned shutdown this summer.
Photo courtesy of GeneralPunger/Wikimedia Commons

Brooklyn and Queens elected officials say they want “the gain must match the pain” if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is going to proceed with plans to close the G train for improvements this summer. 

In a Jan. 25 letter to MTA chair and CEO Janno Lieber and president Richard Davey, a group of 22 elected officials representing neighborhoods along the G line said they want to see a “full upgrade” of the line along with the planned signal modernizations.

g train on tracks
In a letter, the pols said commuters deserve longer trains and extended service. Photo courtesy of Mtattrain/Wikimedia Commons

That would mean increasing the length of G trains from four or five cars to eight, increasing the frequency of service, and restoring service to Forest Hills, the pols said.

“The MTA must plan for the future and invest in the G line we deserve, with a full run of train cars and restored service in Queens,” the letter reads. “We urge you to seize this moment.”

The letter came after the MTA announced plans to close the G in sections throughout the summer as it works to replace the line’s aging signal technology with new communications-based train control, or CBTC.

Starting on June 28, the line would shut down between Court Square and Greenpoint Avenue until July 5 — then from Court Square and Bedford-Nostrand Avenues until Aug. 12 and from Bedford-Nostrand Avenues to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets until Sept. 2. 

The agency would offer free shuttle bus service between the closed stations throughout the summer, and the new CBTC technology would allow trains to run faster and more efficiently. 

But the ends don’t quite justify the means, the pols said in their letter, pointing out that the G serves some of the city’s fastest-growing neighborhoods — including Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Long Island City — and is a “vital connector” between Brooklyn and Queens, since most other subway lines between the boroughs first loop through Manhattan. 

“But with only four or five cars, the G is the shortest non-Shuttle train in the entire system, leading commuters to dangerously sprint down the platform to catch the train,” the pols wrote. “Every other line is served by eight cars, ten cars, or more.”

g train sign
The G train is the only train in the city with only four cars, and the trains do not stretch for the entire length of the platform. Photo courtesy of Tdorante10/Wikimedia Commons

They also want the MTA to restore service to Forest Hills-71st Street. The G ran all the way to Forest Hills until 2010, when the line was shortened due to budget cuts. 

“Now you need to take three different trains just to get from Astoria to Greenpoint,” said Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, who signed the letter, on X. “The MTA should restore this essential service.”

Back in 2022, Queens residents launched a petition urging the MTA to restore G service in Queens — saying that the cuts had left straphangers with longer and more complicated commutes. 

“While the planned multi-week shutdown of the G train this summer is highly distressing — and we urge the MTA to pursue a less disruptive schedule — New Yorkers understand that upgrades often mean inconvenience,” the letter reads. “But the pain must match the gain.” 

In a statement, MTA spox Eugene Resnick told Brooklyn Paper “The MTA is committed to delivering a world-class subway system for G train customers, including through upgrades to install modern, more reliable signals, and appreciates the perspectives of local leaders in Brooklyn and Queens on ways to improve the transit experience.”

According to the New York Post, the current shutdown schedule is the fastest and least expensive option. Performing the work on weekends only would cost the agency $20-$50 million more and would take nearly a year, officials told the Post.