Queens pols request full review of ‘infrequent and unreliable’ R train

Politicians are asking the MTA to conduct a full line review of the R line.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/NYC Subways

The R train, referred to as “Rarely” by some riders, is in desperate need of a review, according to local lawmakers.

More than 40 elected officials and transportation groups are turning up the heat on the MTA and demanding that the agency conduct a full review of the R line, which makes stops in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

Spearheaded by Brooklyn state Senator Daniel Squadron and City Councilman Vincent Gentile, elected officials from the three boroughs, along with transit groups Riders Alliance and Straphangers Campaign, sent a letter to MTA President Thomas Prendergast, asking him to conduct the review within the next six months.

“We have heard a number of community concerns about the R train,” the letter said. “The R train serves many communities for which it is one of the only transit options.”

The letter also cites “a lack of communication” and “poor station conditions” as reasons why the review is needed.

At least 13 Queens politicians signed the letter, including Councilman Costa Constantinides, who represents Astoria.

“R train riders must contend with delays and infrequent service, combined with older train cars,” Constantinides said. “A full line review to assess current issues and examine possible solutions would help to potentially improve the commutes of our residents.”

Using MTA transit data, a 2013 study conducted by the transit interest group Straphangers Campaign found that the R line is scheduled to come less often than most subway lines but is slightly less crowded during rush hour. It was also found that cars on the R line break down more often than those on the average line.

Full line reviews were created in 2009 and since then, the MTA has reviewed the A, C, F, G and L lines. It took the city agency almost 18 months to complete the A/C line review and elected officials are asking the MTA to speed the process up.

“The almost 18 months that it took to complete the A/C Full Line Review is, simply, too slow,” the letter said. “At that pace, it would take the MTA more than 10 years to honor the commitment to study the remaining lines.”

MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said the agency has not scheduled a review for the R line and is planning to review a number line next. He also said reviewing the R line at this point would be “obsolete almost immediately” because the opening of the Second Avenue line will affect the overall service.

“The opening of Second Avenue Subway will affect how many people ride the R and how the R operates, so it would be premature for us to conduct an R line review on the cusp of such a change,” Ortiz said.

Makana Shimaoka, an Astoria resident who lives off the M and R line, said the R is unreliable and that she witnesses “twice as many N and Q trains” going back to Queens during her commute back home from Manhattan.

“The R train is like that friend who always says they’ll show up at a specified time, but never does,” Shimaoka said.

“I can always tell that there is an R train approaching the station by the creaking noises,” she added. “It sounds like it will break down at any second.”