Demand for transit alternatives as G train shutdowns are set to start

THE COURIER/Photo by Johann Hamilton

It’s a no-go for three G train stops on weekends starting July 6.

The MTA is closing the Greenpoint tube, which runs under Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queens, for 53 hours over the next 12 weekends in order to make Sandy-related repairs. The stations to be closed are the G train’s three northernmost stops, Court Square and 21st Street in Long Island City and Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn.

Trains will not run between those stations from midnight Saturday through 5 a.m. Monday on the following weekends: July 6-8, 13-15 and 20-22; August 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26; September 7-9 and 28-30; October 5-7; and December 7-9 and 14-16. There will be an additional five-week-long, 24/7 closure of the tube in summer 2014.

During the shutdowns, the MTA will provide two shuttle bus routes that will stop at each of the closed stops and link them with the Nassau Avenue G station and Lorimer L stations. The shuttles will run every 2.5 to 10 minutes, depending on the time and day.

But transit advocacy groups, politicians and community members say the bus shuttles are not enough. They believe the shutdowns will not only inconvenience riders, but will also cause crowding on other subway lines.

“The residents of western Queens rely on subway service to get them where they are going every single day,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “When it is disrupted, we must be able to provide them with sufficient services.”

“It’s annoying because for some of us the G train is the most convenient way to get to work without having to go all the way through Manhattan,” said resident Sharon Huntley.

Area businesses are also worried about the shutdown’s effects.

“It’s unfortunate because there aren’t many trains that come out here so we won’t get as much traffic,” said Zabi Arifee, owner of Palace Chicken and Grill on 44th Drive in LIC.

Last week, the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign and elected officials sent a letter to MTA chair Tom Prendergast and Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanding more be done to accommodate riders during the G train shutdown and a planned 14-month R train closure that is also for Sandy-related repairs.

“We understand that the MTA has to do what’s necessary to rebuild from Sandy, we know it will be painful, and we support the MTA doing this much-needed construction,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance.

“But shutting down a train tunnel is an extraordinary move, and we want to guarantee the MTA is making extraordinary accommodations to serve riders while the tunnels are under repair.”

In the letter, they asked the MTA to evaluate options such as increasing service frequency and adding additional trains and buses on nearby transit lines.

“We will look at every idea presented to us in order to make this service disruption as easy on our customers as possible,” said Kevin Ortiz, MTA spokesperson. “Some ideas will be unworkable or unaffordable, but others may be viable options.”

The letter also suggested speeding up the expansion of the city’s bike-share program.

Citi Bike stations are slated to come to Long Island City within the year. But there has been a push to bring them to the area sooner, and the G train shutdown might help that effort.

According to Ortiz, the MTA is currently in talks with the Department of Transportation over expediting the bike share in areas affected by the closure.

The bike share could also alleviate an ongoing problem with G train service in the area.

Earlier this year, the MTA agreed to a undertake a full review of the G train after the Riders Alliance, politicians and residents signed a petition and rallied for better service on the subway line.

“Even before the construction plans were announced, we were pushing for better R and G train service because those trains are notoriously crowded and infrequent,” said Raskin.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton



More from Around New York