We were a bit surprised by the enthusiasm with which Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill residents — and their elected officials — took up the crusade for an express version of the F train through their neighborhoods.
True, all of us have been frustrated by the, how shall we call it?, deliberate speed and packed conditions of the orange-hued local train for years. But an F express would neither improve the train’s legendary tardiness nor its overcrowded conditions for residents of the very neighborhoods that have become its champion.
Indeed, an F express would speed right through most of Brownstone Brooklyn — quickly shuttling residents of such southern Brooklyn neighborhoods as Coney Island and Borough Park, while leaving everyone between Park Slope’s sole F-express stop and Downtown Brooklyn standing on the platform.
And those platforms will become even more crowded, if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fails to add new F trains into the proposed express/local mix. Because Manhattan-bound local and the express trains will be forced into the one-track bottleneck at York Street, there may not be enough capacity to add trains.
So why did so many Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens politicians — chief among them Councilman Bill DeBlasio — jump aboard? Simple populism.
It’s easy to call for express service when the very word “express” conjures up images of 20-minute commutes to Midtown, even if the reality is something different.
It’s much harder to do the actual work that will create better transit service for one’s constituents, though. Unsnarling Flatbush Avenue so that buses can move fluidly, or building new subway tracks so that trains can be added onto overcrowded lines, takes hard work, vision and money.
They don’t happen via press release.
So while residents of southern Brooklyn may get to enjoy a speedier commute, Brownstone Brooklynites will likely be facing the same overcrowded local trains as before.
Meanwhile, lost in the deal, is the previously announced extension of the G train into Park Slope that would have provided a direct mass transit link between Park Slope and Williamsburg, with Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in between. The G train currently terminates — unsatisfactorily — at Smith-Ninth Street.
Yes, the F express has merits, but the advocates in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill who are tooting its horn are actually pulling your chain.