The reopening of a long-shuttered entrance at the Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street station promises Park Slopers greater subway access — but it also marks the beginning of the end of an extension of the G train that provides a crucial transit link between North and Brownstone Brooklyns.
Commuters will no longer need to cross six busy lanes of traffic to hop the train after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wrapped up a station facelift last Thursday, ticking off another part of the agency’s massive renovation of the F train line between the Carroll Street and the Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street stations.
Yet with every bit of progress in the agency’s $257.5 million rehabilitation of the so-called Culver Viaduct, the G train extension — which two and a half years ago brought service to the Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street, Seventh Avenue, Prospect Park-15th Street, Fort Hamilton Parkway and Church Avenue stations — inches closer to its last stop.
The agency lengthened the G train’s route when it started work at the line’s terminus at Smith-Ninth Street, connecting the borough from Greenpoint to Kensington with one-seat service fitting of the nickname “The Brooklyn Local.”
But the MTA is only obligated to keep the train running at those stations until the project is finished next winter.
MTA Spokesman Charles Seaton told The Brooklyn Paper that “a decision hasn’t been made” about whether the agency would keep the G train running at those five stations come next fall, declining to comment further until reviewing a feasibility report. The agency initially said it would make the G train extension permanent, but later backtracked amid budgetary woes.
MTA brass and politicians cheered the $3.6 million entrance revamp, which Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) called “historic” and Borough President Markowitz — who contributed $2 million to the project — described as an example of “government doing good things.”
But many straphangers said the addition of the staircase is no consolation if the MTA plans to eliminate the G train extension.
“It’s a pain,” said Matt Flammer, a Fort Greene resident who commutes to Park Slope. “It means you have to wake up half an hour earlier. And that makes you that much more grumpy in the morning.”
Thankfully for commuters along the G line, transit insiders say there’s still hope for the train.
Gene Russianoff, a spokesman for the transportation advocacy group the Straphangers Campaign, said the city will likely consider how much use the G train gets at those five stations before deciding whether to make the temporary service permanent.
“I can tell you from private meetings with [city officials], they’ve been impressed by the amount of ridership at those locations,” Russianoff said. “I’d like to see it continue.”
Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.