G-Train complaints erupt at Greenpoint forum
Summer Shutdown Discussion Gives Way to Longtime Gripes
The announced purpose of Thursday night’s community forum at the Polish and Slavic Hall in Greenpoint was to focus on the upcoming five-week summer suspension of the G train between Nassau Avenue and Long Island City.
There was no real opposition to that measure – everyone understood that it had to be done because of the serious damage that Superstorm Sandy did to this section of the G train’s tunnel. And the community already became used to riding shuttle buses during 12 weekend shutdowns on this section of the G last year.
However, the meeting soon became a focus for longtime complaints about the G line – most notably the fact that the line runs four-car trains, as opposed to the 8- to 11-car trains that are typical in most of the system.
The forum began quietly with an overview of the work that must be done , such as installing new tracks, signals, fiberoptic cable, fans, pumps and more. During Sandy, said Andy Inglesby, a representative of the MTA, “the tunnel flooded to the ceiling.”
Maps were distributed of shuttle-bus routes on Manhattan Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard that will run from Lorimer Street to Court Square. These buses, said Inglesby, will run every two to three minutes on weekdays and every 5 minutes on weekends from July 26 to Sept. 1.
In addition, he said, during this period and “going forward,” service on the G (below Nassau Avenue), M and L trains will be increased. For example, G trains during the morning rush hour will be increased to every 6 minutes from every 7 minutes.
Assemblyman Joe Lentol, however, cautioned, “There will be problems. There always are.” Inglesby assured the crowd that there will be monitors observing the shuttle buses, on the lookout for problems.
When the floor was opened up for questions, the controversy began. Dr. Dorothy Gorbe brought up the matter of the four-car trains, which she called “a safety hazard” because it leads to people from either end of the platform converging on the center, trying to crowd into the cars. She asked whether the MTA would consider running longer cars on the line.
When Inglesby said that a recent study of G train ridership concluded that there was no need for longer cars at this time, the crowd booed loudly. “He should come to the platform at 8 in the morning,” said area resident Tom Anteney.
Local senior Richard Mazur, arguing for more frequent service, said “I’ve been a G-train rider since 1950. When I went to high school at Bishop Laughlin in 1963, there were trains at 8, 8:05, 8:12, 8:15 and 8:20. If I missed the 8:20 train, I didn’t get there when school opened at 8:45, and I got detention.”
He argued that in the future, Greenpoint, a focus of residential real estate development, would be growing by 20,000 to 30,000 people, and the MTA was not adequately planning for the future.
Whenever Inglesby brought up the subject of the survey concluding that there was no need for longer cars on the line, he was booed. Toward the end of the forum, Assemblyman Lentol told the crowd that he would conduct his own survey. He also declared that “Greenpoint is no longer the little hamlet of the past, but part of the big metropolis.”
Several other speakers made interesting points. Squadron said that, presumably because of Greenpoint and Williamsburg’s young , active population, ridership on the G and L lines on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights rivals rush-hour ridership.
Several people also mentioned the new B-32 bus, which connects Williamsburg Bridge Plaza with Court Square, a similar route to that of the G. One audience member wanted it to run more frequently than the current once every half hour, another wanted it extended over the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan, and a third wanted it extended north to Queens Plaza, where it could connect to more subway routes.
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