Concerned North Brooklynites gathered at the Polish & Slavic Center on Java Street Thursday night for a Town Hall about the five-week shutdown of the G Train between Nassau Avenue and Long Island City this summer for Hurricane Sandy repairs.
The public forum was organized by State Senator Daniel Squadron, who was joined by State Senator Martin Dilan, Assembly Members Joe Lentol and Maritza Davila, officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Department of Transportation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, to facilitate a conversation with residents who would be affected by the shutdown.
“A closure like this is going to be painful, but we have to make sure the shutdown doesn’t mean stranded businesses and residents,” said Squadron. “By having the city and state come together now, we’re letting the community provide solutions so that people have options.”
The MTA contingent led by Andrew Inglesby, the Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations at the organization, assured residents that alternative transportation solutions would be in place during the shutdown. Much of what is planned is similar to what was provided when the G shutdown over 12 weekends last year.
Shuttle buses will operate in two sections between Court Square and Nassau Avenue along Manhattan Avenue, and between Court Square and Lorimer Street via McGuinness Boulevard. Shuttles will operate every 2-3 minutes and will run overnight.
In addition, MTA officials said that the frequency of trains along the remainder of the G line, along with L and M lines would increase during the period of the shutdown.
Residents, however, weren’t completely satisfied with the MTA’s responses. Just some of the complaints included the infrequency of bus services like the B32, installation of countdown clocks on subway platforms, the lack of legitimate transfers between subway lines and the number of cars on each train.
“Why are there only four cars on the train?” asked Dorothy Gorbe. “Why can’t there be more cars especially during a time when the train is shutting down? It is almost impossible to get on during the morning rush hour.”
The audience was hardly impressed by Inglesby’s response, booing loudly when he cited an MTA study that showed the number of cars were adequate in relation to ridership. Members of the audience exhorted Inglesby to ride the train at 8 a.m., when the crowds are at their peak.
Another concern dealt with the lack of connectivity between train lines like the M, G, and L – particularly during the shutdown when people will be forced to pay twice. While the shuttle bus services are free transfers – getting into another subway would mean an additional $2.50 charge.
“Most of us don’t have unlimited subway cards, and it is ridiculous to think that we have to pay $5 each time we have to travel,” said Robi Chakravarty.
Transit advocacy group, the Riders Alliance, encouraged the MTA to be flexible while taking residents’ concerns into consideration.
“This community has had a disproportionate amount of the city’s c**p dumped on it,” said Nick Rizzo, a member of the Alliance. “This city never sleeps because the subway never shuts down and when it does it causes huge problems.”
MTA officials agreed to take all the requests into consideration and get back to the elected officials with answers before the train shuts between July 26th and September 1st.
“None of this is black or white,” said Inglesby. “We know that you know this repair work is necessary, and we will tweak the solutions as they are necessary.”