MTA votes to slash G-line service in boro

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A Metropolitan Transportation Authority committee has voted to cut the G subway line in half, reroute the F line and establish a new V train linking Queens and Manhattan in a decision supported by Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.

The vote was a crushing blow to community activists, particularly those in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn who have clamored for months in support of keeping the G train intact.

The MTA board of directors was to meet Thursday, May 31, for a final vote on the controversial plan, which includes the first new subway line in New York City in more than 10 years.

Community advocates had asked Gov. George Pataki to intervene to save the G-line and the MTA did offer a compromise - full G service daily but only from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. and full-time service on weekends.

The MTA also said it would put in airport-style moving walkways linking Court Square and 23rd Street-Ely Avenue so riders could transfer to V and E trains.

The activists said that was not good enough for the G, the only subway that directly connects Queens and Brooklyn.

Joe Hennessy, chairman of Community Board 6 in Forest Hills, said the MTA should "leave the F train as it is now" and keep the G line at its full length. As for the V-line, Hennessy said it must operate 24 hours a day.

"This is New York," he testified at a recent MTA hearing on the issue. "People are going to work and getting off work in the middle of the night."

Tina Chan of the Queens Civic Congress representing 99 civic organizations said "the MTA should go the community''s way instead of its own way." The QCC has appealed to the MTA to keep running the F train through the station at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

The new V-line was created in an effort to ease congestion on the E, F and R trains and will operate from Forest Hills in Queens to Manhattan''s Lower East Side.

Shulman expressed her support for the changes when the New York City Transit Committee of the MTA convened last Thursday.

"I''m here to state Queens Borough President Claire Shulman''s unequivocal support for the 63rd Street Tunnel plan and its proposal to terminate G line service at the Court Square station," said Deputy Borough President Peter Magnani.

"Queens has waited 30 years for the promised benefits of the 63rd Street tunnel," Magnani said. "During that time, 900,000 daily commuters have endured overcrowded trains and severely insufficient service. The deficiencies of the E and F lines have affected the quality of life in our borough and not kept pace with our burgeoning economic growth. The institution of V line service is the answer."

He contended "G line riders will actually benefit from the MTA''s current plan. G riders will still be able to commute to Queens by making a transfer at Court Square. That requires walking a distance of only 350 feet."

Magnani said, however, that the V-line must operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if it is to be a success. The MTA plan would cut service nights and weekends.

The rerouting of the F train would provides stops at 21st Street/Que­ensbridge, Roosevelt Island, 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue and 57th Street and Sixth Avenue.

Under the plan, G trains would stop at Court Square in Long Island City.

When the new system is inaugurated in November, F trains will use the 63rd Street tunnel rather than the 53rd Street tunnel, with E and V trains passing through the 53rd Street tunnel. The new system is expected to permit as many as nine more E and F trains per hour during rush hour periods with an expected reduction of crowding.

F trains would under the new plan bypass the station at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

New York City Transit Authority President Lawrence Reuter told transit activists the agency had conducted exhaustive tests and determined there would not be enough room for G trains along the Queens Boulevard subway lines with the addition of the new V-line and other regular lines using the rail corridor.

City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) urged the MTA to maintain the G-line and restore express service from 179th Street to Continental Avenue.

"The MTA is responsible for coming up with a plan that works, not one that will adversely affect the commutes of straphangers every day," said New York City Advocate Mark Green.

"The MTA says there are winners and losers with this plan," he said. "G-line riders lose, Queens loses. New York City loses. Who wins?"

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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