Bay Ridge

Gentile: MTA giving R riders the runaround

December 18, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Vincent Gentile (at podium) says he isn’t satisfied with the MTA’s answers to his suggestions on how to improve R train service. Photo courtesy of Gentile’s office
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Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s fight with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) over the R train is showing no signs of slowing down.

Gentile, who organized a rally outside the R train station at Fourth Avenue and 77th Street in Bay Ridge on Dec. 11 to protest lousy service on the subway line, is blasting the MTA over its response to his suggestions on how to improve the ride for commuters.

“The MTA’s statement in response to my rally issued via the media is simply inadequate, much like R train service in Bay Ridge,” Gentile said. “The statement was also as vague as MTA’s ‘signal problems’ during a morning and evening commute. The MTA failed to address the atrocities of R line service in Bay Ridge and Brooklyn as a whole.”

The R runs from 95th Street and Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge to Continental Avenue in Queens via Manhattan. For much of its Brooklyn route, the R runs beneath Fourth Avenue.

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Following the rally, Gentile issued a list of suggestions on how the MTA could improve service on the R line. Assemblymembers Pam Harris (D-Bay Ridge-Coney Island) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) spoke at the rally to express sympathy for beleaguered riders. The rally also featured speakers from Riders Alliance and the Straphangers Campaign.

Among Gentile’s ideas are having the MTA conduct an audit on the R line to find out just how bad the service is and introducing a new express R train to run between Bay Ridge and Chambers Street during rush hours.

After the Dec. 11 rally, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the Brooklyn Eagle via email that the number of riders on the R does not justify the establishment of a new express service by New York City Transit (NYCT), the subsidiary of the MTA that operates the city’s subways.

“NYCT schedules subway service based on Loading Guidelines, an MTA-Board approved policy that provides for fair allocation of subway resources among all lines in the system,” Ortiz said. “During the a.m. rush, the R operates at 62 percent of guideline capacity. During off-peak hours, the R operates at only 30-60 percent of guideline capacity.”

But Gentile charged that the MTA’s statistics are skewed.

“The problem here is that this data incorporates the entire line, and many riders get off the R at express train transfer stops. I would like to know what the real capacity is in Southern Brooklyn during rush hours. Manhattan-bound R cars — traveling from 95th Street — are completely filled by the third stop in Bay Ridge during rush hours. The naked eye will tell you that the capacity is far greater than 62 percent in that section of the R line where there is no express train stop,” Gentile said.

Gentile called the MTA guidelines “disingenuous.”

When contacted by the Eagle, Ortiz said that he stands by its previous statement.

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