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Save the G train

History shows it’s not the G train ‘extension’ — it’s the G train renewal

The Brooklyn Paper
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Saving an at-risk extension of the G train won’t just make straphangers happy — it will preserve the beloved train’s historic role as the line for Brooklyn’s working populace, historians and transportation advocates say.

When the crosstown local first rumbled through Brooklyn in 1937 as the “GG,” it traversed the borough between Greenpoint and Kensington, giving factory workers a much-needed transportation link between North and Brownstone Brooklyns that ran late into the night.

The crosstown line served Fourth Avenue–Ninth Street, Seventh Avenue–Ninth Street, 15th Street–Prospect Park West, Fort Hamilton Parkway, and Church Avenue — it’s current, but temporary, terminus — on and off until 1976, when officials nixed the train’s five southernmost stops as factories closed, ridership dwindled, and the city struggled financially, transit historians said.

The current renewal of service, which brings the so-called “Brooklyn Local” back to Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington, has once again made it a train for laborers, this time in the borough’s burgeoning creative workforce — and severing it again could stop Brooklyn’s boom in its tracks, activists claim.

“Cutting five stops on the G train would hurt thousands of residents and small business owners,” said Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party, a group circulating a petition to save the added stops.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority extended G train service to Church Avenue when it started a $257.5-million renovation of the Culver Viaduct in 2009. When that rehabilitation project wraps up next winter, the line is slated to be cut, despite widespread outcry.

Many Brooklynites rely on the G train for life, work, and love — but to save the renewed service, they’ll need to prove it to the MTA, said transit historian Peter Derrick.

“The service makes sense,” said Derrick. “When a service is heavily used, you can justify it.”

Straphangers and politicians are now fighting to save the extension — and some 15,000 people have signed petitions supporting the cause.

“The population along this line is only growing,” wrote Briana Campbell, who signed a petition circulated by Williamsburg Democratic District Leader Lincoln Restler. “It seems ludicrous that the MTA would want to cut service.”

MTA spokesman Charles Seaton said the agency has not yet made up its mind about whether it will maintain the G train extension, but he did say officials will take note of the voice of working Brooklynites before making a final ruling.

“Everything will be considered,” he said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 3:15 pm, April 16, 2012
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