Commuters voice frustration with the wait for the R train at 59th Street

March 21, 2017 Jaime DeJesus
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Straphangers are sick of cooling their heels as they wait for the R train at 59th Street.

“(The R trains) seem overly crowded to the point where I’ve seen people opt to take the bus upstairs,” said local resident Ninoshka Garrick. “The N train seems to come more often than the R train does. When I went to the dentist around 5:15 p.m., I took the W and got off at 59th Street. I waited about 10 -15 minutes and three N trains passed on the Coney Island side. I saw three people walk off to take the bus.”

Regular commuter Jonathan S. agreed. “One of the most apparent issues is simply a lack of service. There have been several occasions where I’ve waited 15 minutes for an R train at 59th,” he said. “In the middle of the day, that rate of service is just unacceptable.”

“I don’t go a day with a smooth commute both into Manhattan and back,” added long-time Bay Ridge resident Matthew Kabel, who has been riding the train for over a decade. “Something goes wrong every day. Whenever I commute home, there’s an issue, whether it’s a lack of trains or a long wait time or overcrowding. Sometimes you’ll wait at 59th on the way home for an R train and there will be three or four express trains before that one train comes and it packs up.”

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Kabel, who says that service has gotten worse since the beginning of the new year, had one of his worst experiences last week. The platform was so crowded, he said, that when the train came, “Everybody couldn’t even get into the one set of doors. They were all running down the platform trying to get in,” he said. “I’ve never seen that. I was barely able to squish in and there were people trying to push and then they gave up and ran further down the car to get on.”

Even new riders waiting for the R are disgruntled. “I really just started riding the R train again because of jury duty,” said Kathy McDevitt-Byrne. “All I can say is I’m glad I don’t have to ride it every day to get to work. It’s always crowded. I’m lucky to get a seat when the train arrives and I have to wait 10 minutes for a train. This is crazy during rush hour.”

In addition, McDevitt-Byrne complained that, “The 59th Street station is filthy. The garbage pails are overflowing. I noticed the overflowing pails coming home and then the next morning.”

Transferring from a train on one platform to a train on the other platform is also frustrating for those who make the connection. “Like many people, I will take the northbound N from Coney Island intending to transfer to a Bay Ridge-bound R train,” explained Jonathan S. “However, conductors rarely seem to wait for passengers walking over from the opposite platform. I’ve run from the uptown platform to the downtown platform only to have an R train shut its doors in my face.”

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It’s long past time for the MTA to send more trains, contended 43rd Council District candidate Justin Brannan.

“It’s already hard enough for hard-working Bay Ridge families to move around this city. Between the long commutes and fare hikes, we are simply not getting the service we need,” he said. “I’m all for new and improved subway stations but having to wait 45 minutes at 59th Street to catch an R train at night is insulting. The MTA should fix what’s broken before doing anything else. The bottom line is we deserve better and it starts by their being accountable to our community.

“We live about seven miles from Manhattan and yet people who live in different states get to work faster than we do. It is absolutely absurd and we’re tired of basically being told to just deal with it. We are done being ignored by the MTA,” added Brannan.

According to term-limited City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who Brannan is hoping to replace, even the MTA acknowledges that service on the line is deteriorating. Last April, he pointed to a survey conducted by the MTA which indicated that the line’s weekday on-time performance had diminished by 20 percent from 2015 to 2016; the weekday wait performance had gone down, according to the same survey, by six percent.

The MTA has not yet responded to a request for comment.


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