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W-w-what!? W trains mysteriously appearing in Brooklyn

W stands for what?: Patrick Gooney was puzzled by the Manhattan-to-Queens W train’s appearance in Bay Ridge during his morning commute on Jan. 9.
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack

W-elcome to Brooklyn.

Rogue W trains are moonlighting on the R line in Brooklyn, and puzzled straphangers aren’t sure what to make of it.

“Yeah W stands for ‘What the hell is going on?’ because this is the second time I’ve seen a W train on the R line and both times I’m confused,” said Sunset Parker Alex Li, who was hesitant to get on the W at 59th Street. “I just want to make sure when I get on the train, I don’t wind up in the wrong part of the town. It’s not a huge deal, but come on — how hard is it to put up the right letter or a sign or something so people aren’t confused?”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority revived the W ahead of the opening of the long-awaited Second Avenue subway. It moved the Q train to the new Manhattan line and brought the W back in November to fill in for the Q by ferrying riders from Queens to lower Manhattan.

But detours into Brooklyn are no mistake — the authority stores some W trains in Brooklyn, and uses them to supplement R trains in a pinch, said a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman.

“W’s only go to Bay Ridge if there’s a problem with R service,” said Kevin Ortiz. “Supplementing R’s with W trains is a good thing as it helps to mitigate the impact of service issues on the R on customers.”

The three local locomotives roll out of their home in the Coney Island Yard (technically in Gravesend) just after 6:20 am. Two of the three shuttles head back to the train yard at the end of morning rush hour, but the third treks on into Manhattan and eventually Queens, according to Ortiz.

The W recently caught one unsuspecting straphanger by surprise — because he did not see any service announcements — but no one turns down an open train, he said.

“I thought it was weird to see the W here and I didn’t see any posters saying it’d be running,” said Dyker Heights resident Patrick Gooney. “But I just got on anyway.”

Others got a kick out of the unusual sight and really welcomed the W to the borough, according to one rider who is just happy to have more service.

“I think it’s pretty funny. I saw it pull up into the station and I was like, ‘Well, that’s something you don’t usually see,’” said Bay Ridgite Whitney Williams, who got on the dubious W at the 86th Street station in Bay Ridge. “The trains can be so cockamamy, but maybe they’re just trying to use every train they can to give us better service. If that’s the case then more power to the W.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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