Grassroots campaign for express R train service hits the ground

Taking a grassroots petition in support of an express R train to the streets of Bay Ridge, community activists braved the rain to get the message out there in the hopes of garnering support.

Even through the rainy weather, south Brooklyn commuters stopped at the 77th Street R station to sign the petition – which outlined the need for the express service on the oft-criticized line – which will later be sent to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).

“Part of this is exploratory,” said community activist and Brooklyn South Conservative Club President/64th Assembly District Leader for the Conservative Party Liam McCabe, who is spearheading the effort. “We’re out here trying to find out if there’s support for it. It’s one thing to call for it but it’s another thing to see if there’s a community response – and it’s been overwhelming. People [think] it’s a great idea.

“I’ve done a lot of petitions [working] in politics,” he continued, “and they usually walk right past you, but they heard the word ‘express,’ [and] they’re turning back.”

There to show her support, President of the Dyker Heights Civic Association Fran Vella-Marrone weighed in on the topic as well.

“We’re not necessarily in the business of making the policy,” said Vella-Marrone. “We’re in the business of bringing it to the attention of the agencies and making them look at it and come up with a resolution to the problem, and, let’s be frank about it, our communities – whether it’s Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights – have always been suffering when it comes to mass transit.”

While the MTA informed this paper that several steps would have to be taken in order for an R express to be plausible, like the N needing to provide local service along Fourth Avenue and tracks needing to merge south of 59th Street and again north of Pacific Street, McCabe is confident that a solution is possible.

“This is one of the best and most wonderfully structured cities in the world. I’m sure we can find a way to make it happen,” McCabe said. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but if we could put a man on the moon, we can fix the switch at Fourth Avenue and 59th street.”

McCabe said that in the next few days, he will be hitting other R train stops and spreading the word during the Fifth Avenue Festival.

In the meantime, some of our readers responded to the idea on social media.

“How about making the R train run more often and timing it so that the N train arrives at 59th Street and 36th Streets at the same time as the R?” Facebook user Michelle Paradies wrote.

“This seems like one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ scenarios,” added Ridgeite Tim Higbie. “If the commute time to Manhattan dropped significantly I think Bay Ridge would suddenly become much more attractive to Manhattanites and others looking to relocate. Rents would increase (as would property values I guess). I’ll take the longer commute.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.