Blogger Launches Petititon to Revive Dormant Subway Tracks


With the city promising to improve mass transit via congestion pricing revenue, Gary Reilly, author of neighborhood blog, First and Court has started a petition asking the MTA to restore express subway service on the F line and to extend the V line for local service to Brooklyn:

The petition, which you can sign here, already has over 2,200 signatures on it. Reilly writes:

Increases in the commuting population in Brooklyn have taxed the transit infrastructure, and the plan for congestion pricing in Manhattan will further add to the stresses on subway commuters. Enhancing transit service in the outer boroughs is vital to the quality of life in our rapidly growing communities and to the feasibility of any congestion pricing plan.

Currently, along the F line in Brooklyn, a set of express tracks lie unused
while the local service gets more and more crowded. In addition, the V line currently stops at 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, resulting in near-empty V trains through Manhattan, while F trains are packed.

A New York City Transit spokesman tells the Brooklyn Paper that it won’t be possible to activate the F line’s unused express tracks until 2012 due to construction work on two Brooklyn stations. Some history:

An express F ran between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Kings Highway
during rush hours through the 1970s, when it was discontinued for track
repair work. The dormant express tracks run below the local track
between Bergen and Carroll streets and beside the local tracks on the
elevated portion to Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. South of the Slope,
the track follows a separate tunnel to the Church Street station.

experts have said in the past that an F express could stop at York
Street station in DUMBO, Jay Street, Seventh Avenue and Church Avenue,
before running local to Coney Island.

Photo: Tom Callan for Brooklyn Paper

  • Is he like the anti-Moses ( or something in this photo? The guys looks like he means business.

    “An express F ran between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Kings Highway during rush hours through the 1970s, when it was discontinued for track repair work.”

    So they closed it in 1970 to repair it and it’s still not ready? We’re going to be paying for all the neglect of city infrastructure trough the 70s and 80s for many years to come.

  • ddartley

    Susan–if only a strong gust of wind had blown through at that moment!

    Bravo, bravo to Mr. Reilly.

  • Kudos not only to Mr. Reilly but to Second Avenue Sagas for bringing this up as well.

  • Sam

    I am all for an express F line but people neglect the fact that this would royally screw G train service. i.e. it would be non-existant at carroll, bergen and smith & 9th

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Good point, Sam. Hm, hm. On some of the blogs people are discussing whether or not to rehabe the express tracks under Court Street or to have all the F/V trains run local through Bergen and Carroll. If the F/V trains run local, then the MTA could rehab the lower-level platforms at Bergen Street and have the G terminate there.

  • Sam, why would there be any difference at Carroll, Bergen or Smith and 9th? These would all be local stops the way I envision it. The express F would run on the express tracks, and the V and G would continue to share the local at these stops.

    And thanks Susan, ddartley and Aaron for the kind words.

  • Michael Cairl

    Existing track layout up and down the line limits NYCT’s options, as well as insufficient rolling stock (cars). The best option, one that really would reprise a 1970s service pattern and would require no track changes, would be for the G to run local to Church Avenue, V to run local to Kings Highway, F to run express Jay Street to Kings Highway (intermediate stops at 7th Avenue, Church Avenue, 18th Avenue) and local Kings Highway – Coney Island.

  • Frank Smith

    How many tracks are there between Church and Kings Highway? I was under the impression that the Express tracks (4 track configuration) was only until the Culver Ramp just after Church, after which there are only 3 tracks for the rest of the Culver Line on the elevated section of the line. It seems more likely that the previous suggestion of Express to Church and local thereafter is more achievable.

  • Michael Cairl

    First, a correction to my last post. NYCT would have to restore crossovers south of Kings Highway station to enable the service pattern I described.

    Answering Frank Smith’s question, there are 3 mainline tracks south of Church Avenue, plus “tail” tracks beneath and south of Church Avenue station for storage and turn-backs. The service pattern I described would enable F express service in peak direction only, i.e. toward Manhattan in the morning rush and toward Coney Island in the evening rush. The #5, #6 and #7 lines have exactly such peak-direction express service on 3-track lines.

  • Good campaign idea, good luck with it. We have to wonder what Bloomberg is thinking, or maybe they mostly just want a new tax.

    Why doesn’t he do anything about this?

    Pershing Square Restaurant blocks Park Avenue going South at 42nd St. This Causes Massive Congestion & Air Pollution! But Does It Bother NYC Mayor Mike ‘”Congestion Pricing Tax” Bloomberg? Click here to see the map!

    Check it out!

  • bobby

    Also keep in mind there is only a 2 track tunnel from Manhattan to Brooklyn – running V trains through there means fewer Fs. The G will be a real problem since it can’t turn at 4 Ave – the time to move switches and reverse direction is too long. One other option is to extend the G to Church with the F express – but the people who would have to transfer to get to manhattan would scream.

    Any time you start having to move switches to merger or diverge service you loose a lot of capacity. That’s probably the main reason the F express in Brooklyn died.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I disagree, Bobby. The two-track tunnel is the same one (more or less) that the F and the V share between Second Avenue and Rockefeller Center, so why shouldn’t they keep sharing it all the way through Jay Street?

    If you extend the G to Church with the F express, you’re just adding service; there are the same number of Fs at the express stops as before. Anyone who would scream about extra trains that they don’t need is overreacting.

    My take on why the F express in Brooklyn died is that the MTA didn’t want to pay to own and maintain enough cars to run it. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

  • Jake

    Great Comments folks!

    Here is the history of express service on the Culver line as I remeber and also read. Although there were express tracks built on what was then called the Smith Street IND they were not utilized for express service until the completion of the Christy Street connector in 1967. Not sure if they ever used the middle track on the old Culver line. From 1967 until about 1974 there was Rush Hour express service but was not well received by passangers then and it had a lot of complaints (because of reduced GG train service, remember the double lettered locals?!) and people did not like the extra flight of stairs at Bergen Street. After the fiscal crises in the ’70s the TA ruled that this was one of the first service cut-backs with an intent to restore when they acquired the rolling stock to do it. In the early 80’s there was a fire at the Bergen Street interlock, knocking out switch capability between local and express tracks, which has yet to be repaired. The MTA considerers this repair work low priority compared with all its immediate needs and is waiting for capital funding to fix it, (this is also way F trains crawl between Jay and Bergen Street). In order to restore F train express service there would need to be total interlock rehabilitation at the Bergan Interlock and more rolling stock purchased to handle both local and express service.


Transit Activist Gary Reilly in the Hunt for City Council Seat

Gary Reilly, the Brooklynite whose petition drive for subway service improvements drew thousands of signatures last summer, is running to replace term-limited Bill de Blasio on the City Council. A Carroll Gardens resident and neighborhood blogger, Reilly has made transit the centerpiece of his campaign. "For me, investment in transportation infrastructure is the key to […]

Sadik-Khan: What We Lose Without Congestion Pricing [Updated]

Ben Fried reports live from the City Council congestion pricing hearing, underway at City Hall: According to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, without congestion pricing: Western Queens will not see a 39% reduction in its most severe traffic jams and a 6.1 percent reduction in total traffic; will not get new bus routes from Middle Village […]

In New Report, RPA Reinforces Link Between Transit and Growth

Following yesterday’s Build for America launch and last night’s presidential debate, the Regional Plan Association released a major report today recommending an array of public transportation improvements for New York City and northern New Jersey, adding its name to the ever-growing list of orgs and officials calling for federal investment to spur and sustain economic […]

Jessica Lappin: Congestion Pricing Advocate

This recent constituent e-mail shows that Council Member Jessica Lappin’s lukewarm support for congestion pricing seems to have turned into full-fledged support now that the proposal has no chance of being implemented (taking a page out of Assemblywoman Joan Millman‘s book). In Lappin’s defense, she did vote for pricing when it came before the council. […]

Congestion Pricing: Bloomberg Needs to Sweeten the Deal

Webster Avenue and Fordham Road, the Bronx Congestion pricing is in trouble. With just weeks to go before the Traffic Mitigation Commission makes its recommendations to the City Council and State Legislature, public support is waning and opponents appear to have the upper hand. The one sales pitch that scored high in public opinion polls, […]

Profiles in Discouragement: Pols Defend Traffic Status Quo

Council member Lew Fidler delivers his Tax & Tunnel plan to the Commission. Spencer Wilking reports: The city’s traveling road show of community advocates, local politicians and concerned residents, otherwise known as New York City’s Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, stopped in Brooklyn Thursday night as part of its whirlwind seven county tour. At the hearing […]