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The honeymoon is over: Revamped R train panned for poor service

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You can’t spell erratic without a double dose of “R.”

Two months after R-train service to Manhattan resumed, straphangers are complaining that service along the line has gotten worse, with trains bunching in stations and long delays at other times.

“For the first couple weeks it was pretty good, but it’s gotten pretty erratic,” said rider Lou Camporeale, who said he saw two Bay Ridge-bound trains enter the Jay Street–MetroTech station back-to-back before a 15-minute lull during a Friday rush hour.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority closed the tunnels connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan for 13 months of repair work following Hurricane Sandy. Shortly after the tunnels re-opened, riders began seeing delays on the Ridge’s only train.

The seemingly unwarranted delays are more infuriating during off-hours, one straphanger said.

“After rush hour, its bad,” said Michael Higgins. “You wait 10, 15 minutes for a train, and then once you’re on, they tell you there’s train traffic ahead. The line should be clear all the way to Downtown Brooklyn.”

Riders say such delays and long waits on the platform are more common now than when the truncated R line ran as a Bay Ridge local.

Another complaint is that R trains now have more of the grimy older-model cars than they did before the tunnels reopened, when straphangers enjoyed riding some of the system’s newest train cars

The dingy, 1970s-era cars aren’t just a throwback, they’re a morale issue, said one elected official.

“From a psychological point of view, it’s just a downer,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “You work all day and this old train is taking you home.”

The announcement and climate-control systems on the old trains are in bad shape, making a rough ride even more stressful, Gentile said.

The erratic service also affects lines adjacent to the R, Camporeale said aboard a Ridge-bound train on Oct. 24.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it is looking into the erratic R-train service now that the full line is functioning again.

“We have ... been engaged in a system-wide look at running times, but held off on the R until the Montague Tube was reopened to begin to collect that data,” said Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “That process is ongoing.”

But the transit agency has a communication problem that runs deeper than late trains, according to another Bay Ridge politician’s office.

“In our view, the MTA failed to communicate effectively with the community on tunnel repairs, the challenges it faced in terms of scheduling once service was resumed, as well as changes supposedly made by the agency over the last week to resolve the issue,” said Paul Marrone, a spokesman for Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge).

Not all Ridgites were quick to slam the neighborhood train, but boosters are few and far between.

“I got no problems with the R,” said Judy Natt, the lone R Train defender out of about a dozen folks this report spoke with.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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