By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Transit watchdogs are reconciled to the need for Sandy-related repairs on the R and G trains that would shut down the R Train’s Montague Street Tunnel from Brooklyn to Manhattan for up to 14 months, and the three northernmost stops on the G train for 12 weekends this year and five weeks next year.
However, they don’t feel that MTA New York City Transit has done enough to compensate riders for the loss of these services.
The R, starting in August, will operate in two sections, one in Brooklyn and the other in Manhattan, although on weekends the R will operate through service over the Manhattan Bridge.
The three stations of the G that will be shut down on weekends, staring the weekend of July 6, are Court Square, 21st Street and Greenpoint Avenue. During those weekends and the five-week period next year, a shuttle bus will make frequent service.
However, the Straphangers Campaign and the Riders Alliance, two advocacy groups, are demanding additional conveniences for riders. They have also gotten the support of many influential Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan elected officials.
John Raskin of the Riders Alliance said his grassroots-based organization is seeking added service on the A, C, 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines, all of which Manhattan-bound R train riders can transfer to during morning rush hours; ferry service to Manhattan from the Brooklyn Army Terminal; ferry service from Greenpoint to Manhattan, and more express buses from Bay Ridge.
Cate Contino of the Straphangers Campaign, who is an R train rider, said, that the MTA’s standard that a subway car can hold a crowd of 125 percent capacity (meaning that some will have to stand) is not necessarily a good indicator of rider comfort.
She also called for more bus service – including the revival of the B51 bus over the Williamsburg Bridge and the B37 bus from Bay Ridge to Downtown Brooklyn – as well as more alternative subway service.
‘The G train’s ridership has exploded in the last five years,” she said, adding that the R train has 65,000 daily riders.
Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for MTA New York City Transit, pointed out that there are many transfer options for Manhattan-bound R train riders at Jay Street-MetroTech and Court Street, and said those are best options.
However, he added, the MTA will consider all proposed alternatives. Already, the transit agency is seeking the extension of the Citi Bike program to the area affected by the G Train shutdown in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
State Sen. Marty Golden, who represents Bay Ridge, said, “I recognize the need for these repairs to be made in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, but the NYC Transit Authority must make transportation alternatives available to the residents of Southwest Brooklyn.”
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who represents Greenpoint and Williamsburg, said, “I urge the MTA to stick to their promise of providing shuttle service that run every three to five minutes between Church and Nassau avenues. 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.”
Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said, “The proposed closures to the R and G subway tunnels will cause overcrowding to nearby train lines and cripple business along those routes. The suspension of G train service between Brooklyn and Queens for 12 weekends, for example, will severely impact the economy and small businesses along those routes who rely on weekend foot traffic.”