The G Train is back in full-service this week, but the neighborhood’s transportation woes are far from over.
Commuters, local residents, members of the transportation activist group, Riders Alliance, and a host of elected officials led by State Senator Daniel Squadron rallied outside the Broadway G-Train stop last week to implore the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to continue the free transfers it offered between the G Train at Broadway and the nearby J and M train lines at Lorimer Street.
“One silver lining to the G Train outage has been the free transfer to the J/M line,” said Squadron. “Making it permanent is an affordable way to improve service and respond to riders.”
At a town-hall-style meeting organized by Squadron prior to the shutdown of the train, community members, commuters, and the Senator had urged the MTA to act on a proposal to create free transfers between the G and the J and M trains for the five weeks that the G Train would remain out-of-service between Nassau Avenue and Court Square in Long Island City.
The MTA agreed to the stipulation, but now argues that a permanent change would impact revenues.
“The MTA offers free out-of-system transfers (also known as “walking transfers”) when the existing subway network is disrupted because of rerouted trains or other work,” said a spokesperson for the MTA. “Otherwise, we lose revenue from people who travel to a destination for a quick errand, then get back on a different train within the transfer time limit even though they’re not really transferring.”
The group rallying outside the G Train stop at Broadway last week argued that a similar change should be instituted in the neighborhood. In a review requested by Squadron and State Senator Martin Dilan in 2013, one of the findings revealed that 2,300 riders transferred daily between G and J and M lines. Those in favor of the free transfers argued that this places an undue burden on low-income residents who often pay as they go instead, being unable to purchase the $112 monthly MetroCard that affords unlimited swipes.
“I’m unemployed at the moment and I don’t have a monthly MetroCard,” said David Estrada, a G Train rider, and a member of the Riders Alliance. “I feel cheated because I’ve already paid my fare and there’s a transfer, that I can see but I can’t use! Why should I have to pay double to go to visit my friends and family? I call on the MTA to do what is fair and make this free transfer permanent.”
The free-transfer advocacy group has further argued that the requested changes will require no infrastructural changes, but only programming changes to the swipe machines at the specific stations.
The proposal has overwhelming support from local electeds including the backing of the Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams.
“Commuters should pay one fare for one subway trip, it’s that simple,” said Adams. “As North Brooklyn continues to grow, the number of riders impacted by this double fare continues to rise, adding to an unnecessary economic burden faced by this community. The MTA should take leadership on this issue and right this wrong, once and for all.”
At present the Riders Alliance is in the process of collecting 500 signatures in support of the transfer to send to the MTA.