A sudden MTA route change has left straphangers angry about their morning commute.
Starting on May 13, commuters arrived at local subway stations on the Q and B line between Sheepshead Bay and Prospect Park to discover that not only were the Manhattan-bound platforms closed, but also that Manhattan-bound trains were skipping two major express stops, Kings Highway and Church Avenue — where riders normally would be able to transfer for northbound service — between 9:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. weekdays, and during the day on weekends.
Commuters were advised by the MTA to, “Use a Brighton Beach-bound B or Coney Island-bound Q to complete your trip. Transfer at Prospect Park, Newkirk Plaza, or Sheepshead Bay.”
The MTA also cited buses running nearby: “In addition to the alternate subway service suggestions provided in our signage, customers can also take nearby buses, some of which parallel the Q line (B68, B49, B41). Customers can also take the B35 (at Church Avenue) or the B82 SBS or local (at Kings Highway), which connect to nearby subway lines,” the MTA suggested.
Affected stations included Avenue M, Avenue J, Avenue H, Cortelyou Road and Beverley Road.
The sudden change left some scrambling on Monday.
“This morning was pretty literally hell on wheels,” said one commuter. “The mob changing platforms at Sheepshead Bay Road was huge and borderline dangerous because there were so many people and they were pushing to get down the stairs to go across.”
The service change made for a considerably longer commute.
“Commuters have to travel a distance to catch a train,” said the straphanger. “I had to go from Avenue H to Sheepshead Bay Road, which is pretty ridiculous. I can’t imagine why they thought it was a good idea to close both the local and a couple of the express stations Manhattan-bound along that portion of the route.”
According to the MTA, the northbound platforms were closed to enable MTA workers to perform deep station cleaning; the closure is necessary, the MTA says, to keep customers and employees safe during the work as the particular stations are outdoor stations that are exposed to elements year-round.
“A clean, comfortable station is a vital part of our efforts to improve customer service,” said Shams Tarek, a spokesperson for the MTA. “Grouping these stations together and doing the work middays and weekends when ridership is lower allows us to get the work done faster while reducing the impact on riders, whom we also encourage to use our robust and fully accessible bus options near these stations to help complete their trips. We thank our customers for their patience while we do this important work to improve their stations.”
According to the MTA, before the work began, signage was posted on the platforms and mezzanines of the stations that are being bypassed. The service changes are also detailed in the weekday service notices that are posted in each station, as well as on the MTA website under service status, organized by subway line, and on the MYmta app under the Q line. Announcements are also being made on north and southbound B and Q trains between Sheepshead Bay and Prospect Park.
This week, the impacted platforms are on the northbound side. Next week, work will shift to the southbound platforms.
“By concentrating this work in a shorter period of time, we are limiting the duration of the service changes required to accomplish the deep cleaning of these stations, which otherwise might take at least 4 weeks and 4 weekends of service bypasses,” the MTA said.