Bay Ridge

Gentile says R train service getting worse

April 21, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Vincent Gentile checks his watch to see how late the R train is at the 95th Street station in Bay Ridge. Photo courtesy of Gentile’s office

Councilmember cites dismal New York City Transit figures

Service on the R subway line, already the source of numerous complaints from riders, is getting worse, according to Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) analyzed figures released by New York City Transit dealing with on-time performances of various subway lines and concluded that R train riders really do have a lot to complain about.

“Well, the R train riders’ worst nightmare is true,” Gentile said. “The line is increasingly operating off schedule. “

Thousands of Bay Ridge and Sunset Park residents ride the R train every day. The subway line operates between Bay Ridge and Continental Avenue in Queens by way of Manhattan and runs beneath Fourth Avenue for much of its Brooklyn route.

According to New York City Transit, the R line’s Service Key Performance Indicator is hitting its mark only 69.3 percent of the time. That’s down 12.9 percent from last year, Gentile noted.

Since last year, the Weekday Terminal On-Time Performance on the R line has gone down 20.4 percent.

“Folks, these are frightening numbers. Thus, the R train comes in first out of 24 lines for largest decline in performance since last year,” Gentile said.

“At least it’s first in something,” he added sarcastically.

Most of the delays in service are caused by overcrowded trains, according to New York City Transit figures. Out of 50,277 citywide delays in subway service, 19,118 were caused by overcrowding.

Gentile called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which oversees New York City Transit, to improve service on the R train and on other lines in Brooklyn.

“The time is now for the MTA to keep pace with the surge in ridership with nearly 1.8 billion riders hitting the turnstiles across the city led by Brooklyn’s growing population. My message to the MTA: Use your capital funds to boost train service, not Wi-Fi,” he said.

Gentile was referring to an announcement made in November by the MTA that it plans to expand Wi-Fi service to 37 more stations in the city, including some in Brooklyn, by the end of this year.

Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, said Gentile is misreading the figures.

“The metrics that the councilmember is referring to looks at service comparisons now versus service during the Montague Tube closure. That is an apples to oranges comparison,” Ortiz told the Brooklyn Eagle in an email.

The Montague Tube, the tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan through which the R train runs, was closed for 14 months between 2013 and 2014 for repair work. The tunnel sustained significant damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, MTA officials said.

“During the Montague closure, from August 2013 to September 2014, the R line was essentially converted from one long line into two short lines, which artificially increased both Terminal On Time Performance and other service metrics.  The R is a relatively long route and splitting the route in two (1) doubles the number of scheduled train trips, (2) reduces the likelihood of a train reaching the terminal late, and (3) improves terminal departure OTP, making it easier to space trains evenly. So, although performance now appears worse, the R line has actually returned to pre-closure (and pre-Sandy) levels,” Ortiz explained. 

In response to Gentile’s call for service improvements over Wi-Fi installation, Ortiz said the introduction of cellphone service and Wi-Fi to the subway does not cost the MTA a dime.

“The costs associated with wiring the system for Wi-Fi is covered entirely by our partner Transit Wireless. In fact, connecting our customers underground is a revenue generator to the MTA as we share rent paid by the wireless carriers and other sub-licensees of the network with Transit Wireless,” Ortiz told the Eagle.