What the F: Locals and officials fed up with lack of F express service

Local elected officials and community leaders banded together on Wednesday, March 2 to press the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) on why, after more than 30 years, Brooklyn still has not seen express F train service restored.

“Taxpayers in my district deserve fair and equitable access to transportation,” said Councilmember David Greenfield whose district spans Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Midwood and who held a press conference with colleagues and transportation advocates on the steps of City Hall , prior to a Transportation Committee budget hearing in Council chambers. “I receive regular calls from constituents who want the F express to be restored.”

The issue is one that previously had  Councilmember Mark Treyger hold a similar rally last year – one that addressed a slew of issues South Brooklyn commuters face.

“The time has come to restore the transportation options that our communities have lost,” said Treyger at a rally to restore F express service in November. “Southern Brooklyn deserves its fair share. The ridership on the F-train continues to grow, yet service has not improved.”

“We are not asking for luxury items or ‘high in the sky’ things,” Treyger told this paper. “We are asking for things that were taken away from our community. We used to have the F express, we used to have the x28 on Saturday, we used to have the x29.

“With all this talk of investments and building new lines, which of course, we support,” he continued, “quite frankly, the people of Southern Brooklyn were robbed. The transportation is still very much inadequate. The F express used to be able to transport people to lower Manhattan in 30 to 40 minutes. Now we’re hearing it’s about an hour and 20 minutes, sometimes more.”

According to NYCsubway.org, the F Line, also known as the Culver Line, was originally built in 1933 with both express and local service in mind. Express trains were to ride along the center tracks between the (now-vacant) lower level of the Bergen Street station and Seventh Avenue, before continuing to Church Avenue.

According to Ben Umanov, a Gowanus-based writer and resident, “For those coming from the deeper regions of South Brooklyn, or even from Park Slope, an F express would be a huge time-saver.”

The MTA, however, only ran express service on those tracks roughly between 1968 and 1976. The middle tracks remain unused and are periodically utilized for work trains.

“The infrastructure already exists,” Greenfield added. “The tracks are there.”

In addition to the loss of F express service, Greenfield pointed out that the cancellation of B23 bus service was “a very significant loss” as well.

Greenfield also mentioned a feasibility study that he says the MTA “repeatedly promised” but has not yet delivered.

“I check my email every day looking for the study,” he said. “In all fairness, we were promised the study a couple of years ago [and] it has not been shared with us. It’s not really fair to keep coming here year after year without delivering on the promise.”

MTA officials responded to Greenfield by saying that, while the study is complete, it is awaiting review from new New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim.

MTA Spokesperson Kevin Ortiz elaborated on that statement.

“We have studied the pros and cons but have not yet had a chance to present the issue to our new Transit President, Ronnie Hakim,” Ortiz told this paper. “Once finalized, we will be happy to meet with all stakeholders.”

MTA officials plan to meet with Greenfield in the near future to discuss further the possibility of restoring F express service.

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