Subway ridership has surged over the past three years at stations serviced by the at-risk G train extension, MTA figures reveal.
More than 4,700 additional riders used the Church Avenue, Seventh Avenue–Ninth Street, and Fourth Avenue–Ninth Street stations on average weekdays in 2011 compared to 2008 — the year before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority extended the G line past its recent terminus at Smith–Ninth Street, bringing the Brooklyn Local to Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington.
The popular route extension is rolling toward its last stop unless the Metropolitan Transportation Authority changes direction before wrapping up a $257.5-million Culver Viaduct renovation next winter. But figures show that ridership across the entire G train line has increased by about seven percent between 2007 to 2011 with the most dramatic increases coming at the newly added stations on the southern end of the route.
Weekday transit use increased 17.3 percent at the G and F train stations at Seventh Avenue–Ninth Street, 15.7 percent at the Fourth Avenue–Ninth Street, and 12.4 percent at the Church Avenue since 2008, according to MTA ridership figures released last week.
Meanwhile at the Ditmas Avenue F train station — the stop after Church Avenue and the first station along the viaduct not serviced by the G train — ridership decreased 3.8 percent.
An MTA spokesman said the increase in riders at Seventh Avenue–Ninth Street and Church Avenue is due to commuters shifting their habits in the wake of station closures at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Prospect Park West–15th Street — stops that observed drops in ridership of 12.6 and 27 percent amid a five-month service disruption and several weekend shutdowns between 2010 and 2011.
But public officials say the uptick in riders proves the single-seat link between North and Brownstone Brooklyns should be saved.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Public Advocate and Park Slope resident Bill de Blasio. “It comes as no surprise that ridership is way up at these stations and that means more customers walking into local mom and pop shops, and a faster ride for thousands of straphangers.”
Transit activists are optimistic that the authority will maintain the G train’s current route — which is actually a renewal of the crosstown local’s original path when it first rumbled through Brooklyn in 1937.
“I do not believe a day of reckoning is approaching,” said Gene Russianoff of the transit-advocacy group Straphangers Campaign. “It’s more accessible, it makes travelling much more convenient and useful for people in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington, and I think it’s a success story that should continue.”
But rank-and-file commuters aren’t taking any chances.
More than one-eighth of the G train line’s total daily ridership filled out online petitions in a furious campaign to save their line this year.
Democratic District Leader Lincoln Restler (D–Greenpoint), who gathered 5,000 signatures in his petition alone, hopes the public outcry will force the MTA to keep the G train running to Kensington — and better its service.
“Instead of cutting back Brooklyn’s only dedicated train line, the MTA should be improving wait times, lengthening trains, and facilitating transfers to meet the needs of Brooklyn strap-hangers,” he said.
Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.