‘Yes to the F Express’ was the cry heard outside the Coney Island/Stillwell Station on Monday, April 10.
Local elected officials, members of Community Board 13, the Alliance for Coney Island, various community groups, businesspeople and residents gathered outside the station on Monday, April 10 to urge the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to bring express F train service back to Brooklyn after 30 years of absence.
The F express in Brooklyn was suspended in 1987.
“We’re not asking for anything new like some pie-in-the-sky streetcar around Surf Avenue,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger. “We’re asking for something very tangible and realistic and something that is fair to this community, something that we had that was taken away from us. This is our fairness, justice and equity.”
According to the councilmember, local straphangers are fed up with crowded trains and lengthy commutes. “It is unacceptable that residents in my district and this portion of southern Brooklyn have to commute an hour and a half, sometimes two hours, to get to and from work and home,” Treyger said, adding that the boom in visitors to Coney Island should only expedite the express train’s return. “How do you move people around during the most congested times of the year? This is becoming a year-round destination, not just a few months a year.”
MTA Director of Communications Beth DeFalco responded to the concerns. “The recommendation to restore F express service is still under consideration,” she said. “However, there are several major F line improvement projects underway or getting started and the timing of any decision must factor those in.”
Shirley Aikens, resident leader for Carey Gardens, told this paper how important another express line is in the area. “It’s a hassle getting to Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn by the F line,” she said. “We have to wait so long just for it to come in and then it takes a long time to get to downtown. It would make a great difference to the residents that live out here. I really miss it because to get from here to Jay Street/Borough Hall, I was there within 20 minutes. Now it takes me almost an hour.”
Councilmember David Greenfield also discussed the many inconveniences that not having the express train brings to commuters. “I’m from Brooklyn and where I’m from, the F stands for frustrating,” he said. “You get on the train when it finally comes and it makes every single stop. It gets stuck behind every other train except the G train. We’re not asking for money. All we’re asking is for a dedicated F express train that brings people as quickly as possible from Coney Island to Manhattan.
According to Greenfield, the MTA considered bringing the service back last year. “So what happened and why aren’t we cutting the ribbon today on the F express?” he asked. “It has to do with politics. The closer you get to Manhattan, the richer the people become. To get to Manhattan, those richer people have 12 different trains they can take. We only have up to three in southern Brooklyn. Those folks[in downtown Brooklyn] are upset because the studies show that they would have to wait on average six seconds longer per train. Our message to the MTA is very simple. Stop playing politics with the lives of people in southern Brooklyn.”
A website has been launched in support of the train, www.fastercommute.nyc.