Velázquez to MTA: Not so fast on F express

Lawmaker demands public input before service change

July 21, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The MTA is considering express service on the F subway line, but U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez and others are opposed to the idea. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) shouldn’t introduce express service on the F subway line in Brooklyn until it finds out what riders think, according to U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, who is demanding that the agency hold a town hall meeting and conduct other community outreach efforts to solicit public opinion.

The MTA confirmed in the spring that it is considering operating express service on the F line between the Church Avenue and Jay Street-Metrotech stations.

The F train runs from Stillwell Avenue-Coney Island to 179th Street in Jamaica, Queens, stopping at stations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens along the route. Under the MTA’s proposal, half of the F trains would operate express during rush hours and half of them would continue to operate on local tracks.

The proposal does not call for additional trains on the F line, meaning that local stations between Church Avenue and Jay St-MetroTech would have 50 percent less service during rush hours.

The MTA is looking to start the express service in the fall of 2017.

But as the Brooklyn Eagle reported in May, Velázquez and other elected officials, including Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin; state Sens. Daniel Squadron, Jesse Hamilton, Velmanette Montgomery and Kevin S. Parker; and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon are on record as being strongly opposed to the idea.

The lawmakers, who represent a wide swath of central and north Brooklyn, charged that the express service would do more harm than good for their constituents because the express trains would be bypassing six stations between Church Avenue and Jay Street-Metrotech.

In a letter this week to MTA President and CEO Thomas Prendergast, Velázquez also argued against the proposed service change.

Referring to the bypassed stations, the congresswoman wrote that “riders at those locations deserve to know why service is being cut in their neighborhoods — South Park Slope, Red Hook, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill — for the benefit of New Yorkers in other neighborhoods.”

Improvements being considered on the F line “must benefit all riders, not just those in a few select areas,” Velázquez wrote.

Velázquez charged that “this proposal would seriously disrupt the lives of local commuters, while harming the local economy,” and said, “at minimum, the MTA needs to be taking into account the community’s views before moving forward with any changes.” 

While lawmakers in central and northern Brooklyn are upset with the proposal, their colleagues in southwest Brooklyn, including Councilmembers David Greenfield and Mark Treyger, are elated.

Greenfield and Treyger have been urging the MTA for years to institute express service on the F line so that their Coney Island, Bensonhurst and Borough Park constituents could enjoy a faster commute to work in Manhattan.

“This is a long overdue move that will drastically cut commute times for riders in southern Brooklyn and restore transit equity to neighborhoods that have languished in transit deserts for decades,” Greenfield said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the MTA is still looking at its options.

In response to Velázquez’s call for a town hall meeting, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said that the agency is planning to conduct an outreach effort.

“As we have said before, we will actively engage and solicit input from all communities affected by the proposed change,” Ortiz told the Eagle in an email. 


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