Greenpoint Gazette
Nadia Chaudhury

Griping all the way to Queens

BY Sergio Guarin

The City Council Committee on Transportation, chaired by Council Member John Liu, held an oversight hearing on G line service on Tuesday April 8th.

The Committee invited Eliot Sander, Executive Director, MTA; William Guild, Chair of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Council to the MTA; Gene Rusianoff of the Straphangers Campaign; Roger Toussaint, President of Transport Workers Union- Local 100; representatives of the SAVE THE G coalition as well as other transportation activists and civic groups.

During the April 8th meeting Chairperson Liu stated: “The G train carries the unique distinction of being the only subway line not running through Manhattan and serves as a vital connection for Brooklyn and Queens residents. Voluminous and vociferous complaints that the G train is neglected have permeated and suggests that the MTA should reexamine how resources are allocated to the various subway lines. City ridership statistics are inadequate, particularly when ridership declines are clearly correlated to adverse changes to the subway lines. These kinds of decisions overlook the process utilized by the MTA, and rely almost wholly on ridership numbers, and results in a downward spiral in the quality and frequency of service.”

“44 out of 52 weekends in 2007, there was no G-train service in Queens,” added Council Member Diana Reyna.”The addition of the V line did a disservice on my community in both Brooklyn and Queens while conveniencing riders from Manhattan.”

The G line’s performance was recently graded in MTA issued report cards. According to the MTA, 3,903 G line riders responded, giving the line a grade of an abominable D+. The report detailed the three top tiers for improvement: reasonable wait for times, minimal delays during trips and adequate room on the trains during rush hour.

The Committee argued that the G line is unique because it is the only NYCT subway route that does not travel through Manhattan. Council Member Liu told the Gazette that it might be for this reason that the MTA treats the G line like “an orphan”.

During the hearing Peter Cafiero, Chief of Operations Planning for MTA New York City Transit, addressed that commonly held belief saying “my hope is to dispel the notion that the G line is the stepchild of the subway system (or that we are trying to get rid of it) by providing both a historical perspective and a look at the constraints that govern NYC Transit…constraints such as limited track and terminal capacity, a limited number of subway cars and, of course, the overall limitations of the system’s configuration and infrastructure.”

City Council’s statement argued that despite the lines unique status, G line service is often inadequate. “Most of the complaints about G line service involve stations in poor condition, the length of cars, service ending in Court Square in Queens, difficult transfers to E and V trains at Court Square and frequent construction which disrupts service”.

“In six years, this committee has never held a hearing on one particular subway line, except the G train. And that is the result of the vociferous and voluminous complaints that we get,” said Democratic Queens Councilman John Liu.

Theresa Toro with the Save The G Coalition stated: “‘G’ must stop being the MTA’s shorthand for ‘Go-To’ line very time it needs to meet its budget. The MTA must stop these nearly annual raids on G line service to make up for its own mismanagement elsewhere in the system.

Cafiero said that the G line had been purposely designed to operate in Queens and Brooklyn and not in Manhattan; it was designed that way over 70 years ago. Cafiero argued that in the morning peak hours nearly half of all G train riders are traveling to destinations solely within Brooklyn, 37 percent are going to Manhattan and 16 percent are headed to Queens.

Cafiero continued, saying that despite wanting improvements, such as an extension in Brooklyn to Church Avenue, on the G line, “the current fiscal climate has not allowed us to proceed with (this) enhancement at this time.”

“NYC Transit is committed to improving G line services for its riders, and our prescription for this line reflects a thoughtful analysis of its operating problems and a plan to address them which entails investing in the service –not disinvesting” said Cafiero assuring G train riders that the line will not disappear.

City Council has introduced Resolution No. 1262, calling upon the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to immediately improve service on the G line and to not implement any additional service cuts. Council Members James, Liu, Mendez, Yassky, De Blasio and Reyna introduced the resolution to benefit their train-deprived constituents, from Smith and 9 to (hopefully) Queens Plaza at (sort of) all times.

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