MTA’s F line express proposal receives backlash

They’re giving it an ‘F.’

While many in southern Brooklyn are applauding the F express, elected officials and community members from the northern part of the borough are not looking to move forward just yet with the possibility of an F express line in Brooklyn.

After expressing concerns with the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA’s) F line express service proposal, Community Board 6 (which covers Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus and Red Hook) and Congressmember Nydia Velasquez cited problems with the proposed elimination of half of the stops at the six local F train stations between Church Avenue and Jay Street Metro Tech (namely Bergen Street, Carroll Street, Smith/Ninth Street, Fourth Avenue/Ninth Street, 15th Street/Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway).

After Velasquez wrote a letter to MTA President Veronique Hakim in July, CB 6 penned its own letter in the same month to Thomas Prendergast, the MTA’s chairperson and CEO, emphasizing that the proposal as it stands will adversely effect many neighborhoods in their area.

“In Red Hook…there is a lack of a subway altogether. Over thirteen-thousand Red Hook residents must cross under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to access the closest subway station,” Velasquez wrote in her letter to Hakim. “Making matters more difficult, bus service was reduced in 2010 and never fully restored. Clearly more has to be done to bring more transit options to South Brooklyn – not less.”

“Our Red Hook community—a former ‘two-fare zone’ community which currently has zero subway service—would stand to lose the most,” wrote CB 6 in a letter to Prendergast. “For years we fought this economic injustice as the majority of Red Hook residents live in public housing and at or below the poverty line. With regard to the challenge of having fairer access to public transit resources, what was cured with the rollout of the MetroCard may now be eroded with F express service. That’s not progress.”

CB 6 strongly suggested that the proposal should not be finalized until MTA staff attends a community board meeting and participates in other outreach efforts to take the community’s input into account.

Hakim’s May letter to CB 6 claimed the MTA had “agreed to examine the potential for operating express/local service on the F line in Brooklyn” but went on to explain that other options are not feasible due to ongoing construction work at nine stations on the F line south of Church Avenue.

“This project will soon require around-the-clock platform closures, from June through December of this year for the Coney Island-bound platforms and from February through August 2017 for the Manhattan-bound platforms,” Hakim wrote. “During these platform closures, all F trains will have to run on the middle track between the 18th Avenue and Neptune Avenue stations, bypassing the closed platforms.”

Hakim noted additional pros of the F express proposal.

“F express service would decrease travel time by approximately 6 to 7 minutes for many Brooklyn riders who currently experience some of the longest trips in the subway system without an express or skip-stop option;” she wrote. “F express service would reduce the operational conflicts between F and G trains between Bergen Street and Church Avenue.”

That’s the perspective of elected officials in Boro Park, Bensonhurst and Kensington, who say their constituents have dealt with subpar service for years. “We have been waiting for this for years, and it wouldn’t make sense to change course now just because a few politicians are upset about having to wait 1.2 minutes at a handful of stations in neighborhoods that already have great mass transit options,” Councilmember David Greenfield contended back in May.

According to CB 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman, the MTA has yet to respond to the board about a meeting.

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