G-train riders could get used to this.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority made it free to transfer between the Lorimer Street J and M station and the Broadway G station in late July when repairs to Hurricane Sandy damage closed the tunnel below Newtown Creek, and riders say they do not want to go back to dropping an extra $2.50 to change trains when work is done on Sept. 1.
“It should be free forever,” said college student Emiljana Gjikolaj. “It is very expensive for us to ride and it is bad enough when you just have to pay one fare.”
Gjikolaj lives in Bushwick and attends the New York City College of Technology Downtown, so she regularly transfers from the M to the Downtown-bound G in Williamsburg. She said saving the extra fare each way has been great on her wallet.
“The MTA has a lot of money,” said Gjikolaj. “They should share it with us.”
Straphanger activist group Riders Alliance has been pushing for that free transfer, as well as a free transfer between the Fulton Street G station and the Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center hub, for more than a year. Now they say the time is ripe to let this free transfer ride.
“We are not asking for an underground tunnel or anything that would cost any real money,” said Riders Alliance senior organizer Rebecca Bailin.
A rep for the transit agency said the change is not in the MetroCards.
“We provided the free transfer to mitigate the impact of the Greenpoint Tube shutdown on customers,” Kevin Ortiz said. “We have no plans to make the free transfer permanent at this time.”
Riders of the Brooklyn Local are more than four times as likely as riders of other lines to make a transfer, many people who depend on the train are poor, and slightly fewer than half pay per ride, according to transit agency statistics.
“These are people who cannot afford unlimited MetroCards, so it affects them twice as much,” Bailin said.
Two thousand three hundred straphangers make the Broadway–Lorimer transfer per weekday and four thousand might make the Fulton–Atlantic one daily if it were free, according to agency data.
But those numbers aren’t enough to justify the train-sition, an agency rep said.
An Authority report on the G also frets that the concentration of businesses and transit options around the Fulton stop means that people might stop off to pick up a few things in Fort Greene, then “take advantage” of the free transfer, rather than hustling directly to the next station.
The transit agency’s 2014 budget is $13.5 billion. The agency said in a 2012 report that it stands to lose $770,000 annually by keeping the Broadway–Lorimer transfer free and $1.34 million annually from opening up the Fulton–Atlantic connection.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) said he plans to help transit bean counters analyze ridership and transfer behavior once again when the G train connection to Queens reopens in September.