Straphangers commuting along the R in Brooklyn are enjoying quicker trips and brighter, cleaner, more modern trains thanks to the closure of the line’s link to Manhattan — but it won’t last, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
The agency said that its 14-month shutdown of the Montague Street tunnel — the tube connecting the Court Street stop in Brooklyn to the Whitehall-South Ferry station in the city — for repairs related to Hurricane Sandy has meant Kings County commuters can move about in their own borough without having to deal with slowdowns related to problems in the Manhattan and Queens section of the line.
“That means trains aren’t being held back and you’re seeing more seamless service in Brooklyn,” said Transit spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
Bay Ridge commuters are also riding in much newer cars than before. The agency services the older R46 model cars that usually run on the R line — which have been in the system since the Koch Administration — at a maintenance facility in Queens, so Ortiz said the MTA would be unlikely to transfer them back to Brooklyn while the Montague Tunnel is closed.
As a result, R riders are getting a taste of the newer R160 trains normally reserved for J, Z, L, M, E, F, N, and Q line commuters.
But the convenience for those who both live and work on the Brooklyn side of the line will come to an end once the tunnel re-opens next fall. Ortiz defended the agency’s plan to again stick the Bay Ridge to Forest Hills local with the nearly 40-year-old trains, pointing out that the length of the cars makes them only compatible with a handful of lines, the R among them. He also argued that the R46s still run fine.
“While they are older cars, they operate admirably,” Ortiz said.