F train riders, rejoice!
After a feasibility study, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has decided to reinstate express F train service along Brooklyn’s Culver Line – an amenity commuters haven’t experienced since 1987 – beginning this summer.
According to Councilmember David Greenfield, who lobbied heavily in support of the express line’s return, the program will begin on a “limited basis” in the coming summer months, with more regular express service expected to follow next summer.
“In my very first campaign over six years ago, I literally ran on this issue,” said Greenfield. “I will never forget standing at F train stations, asking people for their votes so I could fight to restore the F express. This is a huge victory for Brooklyn’s commuters, who for years have had to endure lengthy commutes and overcrowded trains.”
The F express service was suspended almost 30 years ago because of track work. According to Greenfield, however, the service was never reinstated after the work was complete. In the early ’90s, plans were in the works for restoring the express service, but, none came to fruition because of budget constraints.
The express service will run during rush hour between Church Avenue and Jay Street-MetroTech when fully implemented and will save commuters as much as 15 minutes per trip, according to the MTA.
Councilmember Mark Treyger, also a big advocate for express F train service, is happy with the news as well.
“Quite frankly, this is a long time coming,” said Treyger. “The residents of Southern Brooklyn in particular have been waiting nearly three decades for the return of the F express, and I am happy to see that the MTA has finally made positive progress. Residents of Coney Island, Gravesend, Midwood and Borough Park who rely on the F line will see a much-needed reduction in travel time for what has been a sluggish commute. This is just the first step in addressing very real transportation concerns throughout these communities.”
The feasibility study was conducted during peak periods in both directions when trains were traveling between Church Avenue and Jay St-MetroTech with half of the F trains operating express during rush hours, and the other half – along with G trains – operating local, according to the MTA.
“The report recommends that due to the overall net passenger travel time savings and potential operational benefits, an F express service should be implemented after the end of the Culver station project in early Fall 2017,” the MTA released in the feasibility report. “While there are admittedly disbenefits to F local riders who would face longer wait times, those riders with access to F express service would see reduced travel times, and this would be a net improvement in service.”
The news, however, has seen some criticism from elected officials, worried about the frequency of local trains declining in order to make way for the express service.
“The F train is a subway line that links communities from Coney Island to DUMBO, and riders along the route have been unified in their shared desire for improved commutes, including the restoration of express service,” said Borough President Eric Adams. However, he added, “It has been clear from the beginning that bringing back express trains could not and should not come at the expense of existing local train frequencies and the growing communities that depend upon them.
“It is time for the MTA to come to the table with stakeholders along the F line and devise a comprehensive community vision for the restoration of express service,” Adams continued, “one that protects the interests of commuters who rely on local service as well.”
Councilmember Brad Lander concurred.
“I am extremely dismayed by [the] atrocious MTA process regarding proposed new F-express service,” Lander wrote in a series of tweets. “It pits Brooklyn residents against each other, creating “winners” and “losers” without sufficient information or dialogue. We made clear we could only support skipping local stops (as part of F express service) if overall service were increased on the F line. The MTA promised to share info before making a decision, including what service increase would be necessary to prevent diminished local service. Instead, the MTA blindsided us, announcing a decision in the newspaper, before providing any information.”
Treyger, stressing that the service is not meant to cause a divide, said, “This is about residents in Southern and Central Brooklyn receiving their fair share, not pitting residents of different neighborhoods against each other.
“We are not asking for pie in the sky items like streetcars, for example; we are simply asking the MTA to restore services that were taken away from this community,” he continued. “We will be meeting with MTA officials and representatives from Governor Cuomo’s office in the near future to address these issues.”