Split decision: MTA must again separate R-train service between Bklyn and Manhattan, local pols demand

Brooklyn Paper
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Call it another Southern secession!

The Metropolitan Transit Authority must again consider separating R-train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, in order to immediately reduce commute times for Southern Brooklynites who ride the beleaguered line, a quartet of pols demanded in a letter they fired off to the chairman of the state-run agency.

“For years, the R train has suffered from inexcusable delays, poor service, and sudden schedule shifts,” the pols wrote in their Feb. 15 missive. “We believe we have a solution that is relatively cheap, quick to implement, and has successfully reduced delays in the past.”

Rep. Max Rose (D–Bay Ridge), state Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D–Bay Ridge), Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus (D–Coney Island), and Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) all signed the letter sent to Transportation Authority bigwig Andy Byford, who runs the agency’s local arm, the New York City Transit Authority.

Last May, Byford announced his so-called Fast Forward Plan to modernize the city’s beleaguered transit system, a $40-billion scheme that calls for upgrading the R train’s nearly century-old signal infrastructure, one of the main causes of delays, along with expanding accessibility to subway stations, and adding hundreds of new subway cars and city buses within the next decade.

But the plan — which is not fully funded — notes that signal upgrades will not be made along the R line for at least five years, and even then will not extend south of Downtown’s DeKalb Avenue station. And those provisions are neither quick nor comprehensive enough, according to the pols.

“Putting Southern Brooklyn through another 10 years of a commuting nightmare is simply not an option,” they wrote. “It is time for us to think outside the box.”

A more viable solution, the foursome proposed, would be to again split R-train service between the two boroughs at the Downtown Court Street station, which the agency did between August 2013 and September 2014 while workers repaired the line’s East River–spanning Montague Street tunnel in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

During that time, Manhattan-bound Southern Brooklyn straphangers on weekdays freely transferred to 4 or 5 trains to continue their journeys to the distant isle, and on weekends took the R line over the Manhattan Bridge into the outer borough, where trains then followed the N-train’s route.

The previous bifurcation was “an unexpected success,” the pols said, because it siloed Southern Brooklyn riders from delays that occurred at other citywide stops along the R line — claims supported by this newspaper’s reporting at the time.

“By bifurcating the R-train, Bay Ridge commuters were no longer being delayed due to a sick passenger up in Queens,” the legislators wrote.

And one long-time R train commuter enthusiastically agreed, saying the previous division of service made her daily commute from her home in Bay Ridge to her Downtown office a breeze because the local R trains were far less crowded.

“It was the best commute I’ve ever had in my life, and I was so angry when they went back to normal service,” said Brooklyn Paper Assignment Editor Courtney Donahue. “When I was leaving work at night, there was no one on the train, because Court Street was the first stop.”

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman did not immediately reply to inquiries about whether or not agency honchos would heed the pols’ request to study the bifurcation, how much the split service would cost, and whether or not the Southern Brooklyn portion of the R line would ever receive signal upgrades.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 5:33 pm, February 20, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Take away cars and highways, limit your ability to heat your home or have electricity, eliminate vaccines, and now shut down interborough subway service. Liberals really want to go back to the Middle Ages.
Feb. 20, 2019, 6:26 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
With all the idiotic garbage spewing out of my mouth, it's a wonder I'm able to dress myself. As a recovering addict, I'm considering going back to drugs.
Feb. 20, 2019, 6:51 pm
SCP from Sunset Park says:
WTF?! NO, PLEASE, NO! This would be horrible. Right now, my commute is a straight shot, often on one train, from 36th St (BK) to Whitehall. This would mean I would have to take 2 trains to work. What would be the point of that?! The R train is not bad at all. I take it every day. For people further down the line, sure, there's added time, but that's expected! Right now, people can take the R to Atlantic if they want and transfer from there. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THE R TRAIN!!!!!!!
Feb. 20, 2019, 10:04 pm
The Hunkster from Brd-Stuy says:
R you serious? At least extend the J or the W to Bay Parkway during rush hours so the residents along 4th Avenue will get more service in the line with a lot of real estate development there.
Feb. 21, 2019, 9:07 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Apparently the geniuses who brought us the V train are back at it again.
Feb. 21, 2019, 10:23 am
Alexander from Bay Ridge says:
This seems like a terrible idea. As far as I can see, the issue with the R train is not enough trains and frequency of service. It sometimes takes me 30 min to get from 86th st to 36th where i transfer to the D/N; which shouldn't be the case considering it is only 6 stops. However, trains running every 8 min during rush hour (compare with 4 min for the F) and signal issues are the main contributors. The N express tunnel repair doesn't help either but hopefully that'll be competed in July. Make R train service more frequent similar to the F and most people will be much more happy.
Feb. 21, 2019, 11:10 am
NakedHiker from Downtown Brooklyn says:
This is the worst idea ever. The whole point of the subway is to get people from one boro to another.
Feb. 21, 2019, 11:15 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
When was the last time any of these politicians commuted to Manhattan using the subway?
Feb. 21, 2019, 11:26 am
Edward F. from Kettering, Ohio says:
I used to work on Wall Street, took the "R" from 95 st. to Whitehall St. during the week to get to and fro, You can't just stop the public because of some politician sez we're gonna change it now (He has a chauffeur) I feel sorry for you guys and dolls.
Feb. 21, 2019, 11:45 am
David from Crown Heights says:
Good luck "freely transferring" to a 4-5 on a weekday morning. There's *plenty* of space on those. /sarcasm
Feb. 21, 2019, 12:03 pm
Ro from Park Slope says:
Evidently, there is a lack of understanding as to what "local" service means. When necessary I switch to an "express via bridge." That said, the "R" is the quickest train connection between Bay Ridge and the Staten Island Ferry for those of us who visit former Brooklynites now living/working on that island. Also, then, what was the value of the MetroTech station connection recently built, particularly between F and R lines with its escalators and elevators?
Feb. 21, 2019, 12:17 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
a dumb idea.
Feb. 21, 2019, 1:13 pm
Gerard from bay ridge says:
All ideas should be brought forth and implemented if they might actually work. The MTA also has to improve before the ridiculous Congestion Pricing begins. The city wants to force people out of their cars without a viable way to get around, especially from the outer boroughs into and out of Manhattan. Express Bus service should be extended from the early morning hours and through the late nights. They don’t run early or late enough to accommodate many riders. The MTA is woeful but something inciteful inspection may actually work. Like the article stated, look outside the box.
Feb. 21, 2019, 2:51 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
the better solution is to bring back the old RR line from Chambers Street in Manhattan to 95 Street Bay Ridge during the weekdays. The Chambers Street station in City Hall can turn around the trains with unused platform.
Feb. 21, 2019, 3:14 pm
DD from Prospect Lefferts says:
Former Sunset Park resident. This is an awful awful plan. And above is correct the 4-5 in the morning is full as it is....It is literally 2 mins between court st and Whitehall, if someone is commuting there they have to go out of the way completely for something that would've been another 3 mins on the same line. Run more trains or come up with another line in Queens. Bay ridge literally only has the R as a subway and it is tough as it is. Queens has the N, W, R.
Feb. 21, 2019, 4:20 pm
AJ from Bayridge says:
If you work Downtown or uptown and live in Bayridge transferring for the 4@5 train doesn’t help me. The 4@5 is overcrowded as it is now. During the last shutdown it added 25 to 35 minutes to my travel time to court land street. The connection of the transfer was a 5 minutes wait There was awful lot of walking below ground and on locale streets When the R train goes into the city I walk right up to my building in the trade center This a bad idea if you work in Manhattan, if you work in downtown Brooklyn it isn’t as smooth as suggesting it’s a breeze as there were still delays of R trains arriving at 59 street !
Feb. 21, 2019, 4:27 pm
K. from ArKady says:
For good reason we referred to them as the (R)arely and the (N)ever lines...
Feb. 21, 2019, 8:12 pm
John from Bay Ridge says:
And yet that idiot Cuomo baths about wasting millions on rebuilding subway stations. Every dollar that he blew on that vanity project should have been spent on the signals upgrade project.
Feb. 22, 2019, 9:15 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Brags for the comment above, not “baths.”
Feb. 22, 2019, 9:16 am
JACK from BAY RIDGE says:
This is a crazy idea. Leave the R-Train alone. These new politicians that were just elected need to go. Time to bring back Marty Golden.
Feb. 22, 2019, 9:35 am
Alex from Sunset Park says:
Used to live in Bay Ridge, now in Sunset Park. The R train isn't the best, isn't the worst. Improving existing service seems to be a more sensible answer. As stated above, if you want to get to downtown manhattan stops, the R is a straight shot and is a good option to have. Transferring at Court is an unecessary addition to the commute. R riders can already transfer at 59th, 36th, 9th, Atlantic, Dekalb etc if that serves their routes better.
Feb. 22, 2019, 10:14 am
TOM from BAY RIDGE says:
This is a very dumb idea to split the R-Train into 2 sections. This was a horror show back in 2013 & 2014. Ending the R-Train at Court Street added 20-30 minutes each way to my daily commute to lower Manhattan. That was a horror show. R-Train from Brooklyn to Queens should continue just the way it is now. Just improve the service. In fact I think the W Train should travel to Brooklyn and end at Bay Parkway just like the old M-Train did. Any politician that agrees with splitting the R-Train into 2 sections Queens to Whitehall St and Court St to 95th Street is insane & will be voted out when election time comes around. If this idea ever becomes reality I will just take the ferry all the time. I take it now about 40-50% of the time.
Feb. 22, 2019, 11:18 am
Gideon from Queens says:
Thats a dreadful idea. It was a disaster in 2014 and will be a disaster today. A lot of people in queens need to commute to downtown brooklyn.
Feb. 22, 2019, 12:21 pm
james from Bay ridge says:
A better idea would to run a few extra trains that operate from 95th street to whitehall street to even out the spacing on the R. Then select R train turn back to queens at whitehall street. This will give the people in Bay Ridge more predictable service. 20 min plus waits is not acceptable .
Feb. 24, 2019, 10:23 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
the Whitehall Street middle track is already being used by the W train during weekdays as a terminal for turning back the train.
Feb. 25, 2019, 11:16 am
David from Brooklyn Heights says:
So these legislators think this is a good idea? Can they guarantee that R train riders who work in Manhattan and are forced to transfer will always find room on the Borough Hall 2, 3, 4, 5 trains during rush hour? Can they guarantee that nobody will ever get sick along any of the 2, 3, 4, 5 lines in Manhattan or the Bronx and cause delays on those lines too? What about the federal dollars used to repair the Montague Street Tunnel? Should they be refunded since that tunnel will no longer be used? Is it a good idea to cut all the R line's neighborhoods like Bay Ridge and Sunset Park off from a one-seat ride to Manhattan? Concentrate on getting the R line's signals fixed and improving the existing service.
Feb. 25, 2019, 5:42 pm
Jeremiah Clemente from Old Mill Basin says:
I would rather extend the J and Z from Broad Street to Bay Ridge - 95th Street to help the R train and it’s slow service there. The extension would run st all times except late nights.
March 11, 2019, 3:02 pm

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