Following the announcement earlier this month that G and R train service would be suspended for tunnel repairs, Carmen Bianco, the Acting President of New York City Transit outlined measures the agency would take to mitigate what will be a major inconvenience to commuters. For G riders, these consisted of running shuttle buses, every three to five minutes, between Nassau Avenue and Court Square, and stationing customer service representatives in the affected stations – Greenpoint Avenue, 21st Street and Court Square – to explain the changes to riders.
While no one disputed the need for repairs after the tunnels were flooded during Sandy, many questioned the MTA’s handling of the service disruptions. In response, on June 17th, the Subway Tunnel Closure Working Group, a coalition formed by the Riders Alliance, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and Borough President Marty Markowitz met to coordinate a community response to the planned construction work.
The results from that first brainstorming session were announced on Thursday, June 27th, on the steps of Borough Hall. Elected officials and community organizations gathered to present a letter, addressed to MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast and Mayor Bloomberg, containing suggestions to improve accommodations for G and R riders.
Some of these included increasing frequency of service on nearby train lines that will have to accommodate R and G train riders, extending the planned G train shuttle bus to Queens Plaza to provide connectivity to more train lines and providing free out-of-system transfers from the G to nearby lines including the J and M near the Broadway stop, all the trains at Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center and from the Borough Hall station to the Jay Street-Metrotech station to provide better connectivity from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan.
Assemblyman Joe Lentol asked for a guarantee that none of the G shutdowns coincide with L train repairs planned for later this year. “Hopefully, some added upgrades will also be installed to ensure that it doesn’t take as long to get the G train up and running following future natural disasters,” he said.
Councilmember Steve Levin requested that the MTA fund transfers to the East River Ferry at India Street and for CitiBike share stations to be installed near the affected stations. “More can be done, and this plan offers solutions Brooklyn residents need,” Levin said.
Many neighborhood business owners expressed concern about how the shutdowns would affect the commutes of both their customers and employees, many of whom travel late at night or very early in the morning. “[It] will severely impact the economy and small businesses along those routes that rely on weekend foot traffic,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura. “While shuttle buses will be there to alleviate the problem, fewer people are likely to use that option.”
G train shutdowns between Nassau Avenue and Court Square will begin next weekend, July 6th and will take place over 11 more weekends: July 13th and 20th, August 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th, September 7th and 28th, October 5th and December 7th and 14th. It will also be closed for five full weeks in summer 2014.
The R train will be shut down for 14 straight months starting in August.