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G notes: Commuters sick of paying for transfers on Brooklyn Local

for The Brooklyn Paper

Riders of the Brooklyn Local want a free Manhattan transfer.

G train commuters are sick of paying to switch to nearby lines that cross the river — and they’re pushing the Metropolitan Transit Authority to link the vital borough-traversing route with transit hubs in Williamsburg and Downtown.

Subway activists say the MTA could easily allow free above-ground transfers between the G train’s Broadway station and the J and M line steps away at Lorimer Street or Hewes Street, and between the G train’s Fulton Street stop and the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, Q, R, N, and D trains close by at Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center.

“We’re not asking to build an expensive new connection between stations,” said Greenpoint resident Greg Richane, a member of the newly formed transit advocacy group the Riders Alliance. “We just want people to be able to transfer for free when the G train crosses other lines, which is something the MTA can provide basically for free.”

Straphangers say a free above-ground switcheroo isn’t a pie-in-the-sky request considering the agency already offers a similar street-level link in Manhattan between F line at Lexington Avenue — 63rd Street and the 4, 5, 6, N, Q, and R lines at Lexington Avenue–59th Street.

Supporters say a link to the J and M trains would help commuters across North Brooklyn — even those who favor the L train.

“People would have a lot more options if they put in the free transfers,” said Karen Nieves, a member of Community Board 1 and the Riders Alliance, which held its second-ever meeting on Nov. 27. “It would take a lot of the pressure off the over-capacity L train.”

But the MTA says free transfers aren’t necessary

“[New York City Transit] does not have a policy of providing never-before-offered external transfers via the sidewalks except where mitigating a service change,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

The fight for free transfers comes just months after commuters saved the crucial one-seat link between North and Brownstone Brooklyns from a proposed service cut that would have nixed four beloved stations in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington.

And activists aren’t stopping at free transfers: members of the Riders Alliance are also pushing for more frequent service, better communication about delays and disruptions, and a return of full-length trains on a line often bemoaned by commuters for being just four cars long.

Straphangers say the G train’s struggles are a bit of a catch-22 — improvements on the line are slow to come because ridership is comparatively low, and ridership remains comparatively low because service improvements are slow to come.

“This morning I was waiting for the G and I finally gave up because I knew that by the time it came, it would be so packed that I wouldn’t be able to get on,” said Greenpoint resident Summer Greenstein, who lives right off the Brooklyn Local but often ends up taking the bus instead.

Activists and politicians are hoping to build a critical mass of straphangers to turn the G into a line that makes the borough proud.

“As the neighborhoods surrounding the G continue to grow, it’s vital that their lifeline grow with them,” said State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights).

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Maurice L. from Williamsburg says:
This would be so helpful but ponder this: If MTA isn't even willing to give G-train straphangers a FULL train of 8 carts (it's currently at 4) its an indiciation we (G-train riders) just aren't a major concern to the MTA.

Is MTA aware of how many times, fights break out on crowded G-trains & how delayed these trains are because people have to run to the middle of the platform because the train is so short? The G-line itself needs an upgrade especially if we're going to pay more for it in March.
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:55 am
Nick from East Williamsburg says:
Have ridden the GG train for longer than the current MTA bosses have been working there. They have a Long Island and Manhattan-centric view of things. Brooklyn is just something they travel through on their way to their NYC offices. As Brooklyn becomes an economic powerhouse, we should argue for board members who live in Brooklyn.
Nov. 29, 2012, 10:09 am
MB from fort greene says:
Ms. Greenstein is being overly dramatic (and/or, just lying) - I ride the G train daily from Fort Greene to LIC, and the train empties out at Metropolitan as riders transfer to/from the L. Anyone getting on at Greenpoint heading southbound only need wait one stop to get a seat, and probably has one northbound as well.

There's also a 0% chance the train is so crowded during the AM commute that you can't board.
Nov. 29, 2012, 10:20 am
Ian from 11211 says:
The MTA's response to this situation is why the MTA is perpetually bankrupt. They don't have a policy of the cheapest solution possible -- free transfers. But they would totally spend millions building underground passageways -- Lafayette - Bleecker Transfer, Fulton Street Transit Hub.
Nov. 29, 2012, 11:01 am
Marcus from 11222 says:
Here's another angle. The 48 bus is often full in the morning between the start of its run in Greenpoint and the Lorimer J/M stop. I have seen it skip stops and leave people behind, usually in bad weather (which is of course exactly when the bus is most popular).

Although the Lorimer L (Lorimer at Metropolitan) is probably the most popular stop, lots of 48 riders are taking it to the J/M at Lorimer (Lorimer at Broadway). Perhaps if there were a free transfer more people would use the G train to get to the Lorimer J/M stop, reducing pressure on that bus line?

Of course those people could take either the 48 bus or the G train to Lorimer, take the L, then transfer to the M at 6th Ave or to the 6 at Union Square to get to the J. With entirely free transfers, mind you. This is an important point: people can already transfer from the G to the J/M for free, but only in an incredibly wasteful manner which also heavily burdens the L train (which is already overcrowded). How about being smart and just making the easy G to J/M transfer at Broadway free?
Nov. 29, 2012, 12:01 pm
BunnynSunny from The Hill says:
The commute is killing me.
Nov. 29, 2012, 12:07 pm
sf from wburg says:
there should be a petition. i would sign it.
Nov. 29, 2012, 12:10 pm
Isa from Greenpoint says:
To MB from Fort Greene: G train crowding might not be a problem at your station, but by the time Queens-bound trains reach Nassau Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue stations, they are indeed packed and sometimes people really can't board. It might not be a problem up and down the whole route, but if you live in Greenpoint and need to travel to Queens to transfer to the E, M, or 7, it honestly is a serious issue during rush hours.
Nov. 29, 2012, 12:20 pm
Bear from williamsburg says:
The MTA Chairman lives in Brooklyn.
Nov. 29, 2012, 12:25 pm
anywho says:
The G train sucks, plain and simple.
Nov. 29, 2012, 3:36 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, the G follows the F between Bergen Street and Church Avenue. If you have to continue into Manhattan, then switch anywhere in between for that. You can also switch over to the A or C over at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets depending if you want express or local. A transfer to the L can be made at Metropolitan Avenue for Lorimer Street. BTW, the once out of system transfer that was over between Courthouse Square and 23rd Street-Ely Avenue is now a direct free transfer as that has now been completed. Although transfers can be made between stations above and below, they are not always easy. Part of that has to do with the way it has been made in the past. As for what was mentioned in the article, the Fulton Street Station for the G is not that far from that illegitimate arena known as the Barclays Center, so take some extra time if you need to walk from there. On a side note, I do agree with Ian that the Fulton Transit Center seemed unnecessary because it was nothing more than a station house that serves almost no real purpose but looks, but what was done at the Bleecker Street Station was necessary because there was originally no transfer to Broadway-Laffayette when taking the 6 uptown while the downtown line had it only. The disadvantage is that major hubs do intend to get packed, which is why they are known as transit hubs to begin with and this is common in all cities, not just NYC.
Nov. 29, 2012, 6:30 pm
Bob Scott from Brooklyn says:
If the MTA doesn't favor above-ground transfers, why the relatively new transfer between the 59th Street 4/5/6 and the F train at 63rd Street -- 4 blocks away?
Nov. 29, 2012, 8:52 pm
Scott from Sunnyside says:
It's about time Bob Scott got in on this action. He's been quiet for too long.

Free transfers for all, everywhere!
Nov. 29, 2012, 11:42 pm
Juan from Gowanus says:
“[New York City Transit] does not have a policy of providing never-before-offered external transfers via the sidewalks except where mitigating a service change,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

right . . . that's why Riders Alliance is advocating for a new policy.
Nov. 30, 2012, 10:28 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
As great as free transfers are for subway lines, it comes down to one question here. Who is going to foot the bill for this? Of course to many of these groups be it Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, etc, they will always want the motorists to pay for all of it rather than themselves, who are going to use it a lot more. Honestly, I don't see how a fare hike by just a quarter is a bad thing when it's pretty small compared to toll hikes that are at least double that. Why aren't these groups advocating for free transfers from subways to commuter trains and buses? I can remember when my father had to work in Jersey City and he had to pay three fares just to get there and back, which included Metro-North RR, the subway, and the PATH rather than just one. Also, commuter trains and buses are much more sporadic compared to subways and city buses. Now that I am think about it, I don't get why there is no free transfer between Junius Street (3) and Livonia Avenue (L) despite the fact that there is even a walkway that goes between the two that can easily be used for that.
Nov. 30, 2012, 3:13 pm
Felicia from Clinton Hill says:
The G train has been a frustration for many years. The shortness of the train at four cars makes it extremely difficult to catch it when pulling into my station. I have to run almost a full city block to catch it. With the train going through top and emerging communities--Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, Park Slope, Williamsburg, demand is high and the train should be just as long as others to accommodate the crowds.
Dec. 1, 2012, 4:05 pm
Elizabeth from Greenpoint says:

There is no reason to go the extra 7 - 8 stops to get the A/C or F when you could take 3 to the J and hop right into downtown.

The point is that people are not paying the double fare to take these trains, they are just overcrowding other lines or they have an unlimited card, so it is not a question of cost. There can't be that many people willing to pay $11 round trip daily. Even if they can afford the ridiculous rents in this hood.
Dec. 4, 2012, 8:36 pm

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