Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More On The Potential For F Express Service

From the Brooklyn Paper:
Carroll Gardens commuter Gary Reilly, who promoted the idea of an express train in an online petition and blog, said it’s about time the MTA gets moving on the proposition.

“As Brooklyn continues to grow, the Culver line ought to have restored express-local service,” said Reilly. “Logistically it is possible. It’s just a matter of finding a little bit of political will, and a relatively small amount of money.”

But, Reilly said, the MTA needs to do it right to make sure that commuters in Brownstone Brooklyn don’t get stuck on the platform as express trains race through their stations.
“The key is that there must be an overall increase in the service levels so that the current local stops don’t suffer a reduction in service,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the agency has said it would consider adding an F express train after work on the viaduct wraps up. But that $257.5-million project has taken longer, and cost more, than expected.
Commuters recently got a taste of the high-speed service when construction work turned all Manhattan-bound F trains into express trains on weekends.
Commenter Larry Littlefield from Windsor Terrace raises concerns about the availability of track space in Manhattan and availability of trainsets for the service.  While those are legitimate issues, they are not insurmountable.  There is another Windsor Terrace -specific issue that Larry neglected to mention, which is local complaints from those whose homes are situated above the express tracks.  Which is why advocates such as myself, Assemblyman Jim Brennan and others have called on the MTA to upgrade the tracks below to reduce vibration from train service in the event express service is to be restored.

The current route of the M through Manhattan is not immutable - when I first started this campaign to bring back express service the F shared a line with the late lamented V train (RIP).  The investment required for F Express service is some additional trainsets.  This could be in the form of new cars or in delaying the retirement of some existing trains.  And of course, the crews. 
It's up to us to demand the level of service that the Culver Line deserves.  No one should support cannibalizing service in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope and Windsor Terrace to provide a shorter trip for our neighbors from Borough Park to Coney Island.  I certainly don't.  But that is a false dichotomy.

No one is under the illusion that restoriung F Express service is a free lunch:  there is a cost, both in capital expenditures (trains) and ongoing operating expenses (train crews).  But relative to other service expansions, the value provided would be dramatic.  The track infrastructure is there.  Talk about an efficient use of resources.  Try to find similar service increases in the system at this level of investment.  It's a lot of bang for the buck.

Lastly, Larry mentioned altruism.  And I'll tell you what, I do try to look at things beyond the basis of "what's in it for me?".  Improving the commutes for people further out in the Borough will help reduce traffic and the attendant ills that go with it.  And an increase in service (by providing express service) would relieve crowding at our local stops and make the morning commute a little less miserable for people.  Everyone benefits if we add service.  A re-allocation of service is a different story.

F Express service could be a win for everybody, if we have the will to make it happen the right way.  And that starts by not allowing ourselves to be divided between local and express station users.  We need to demand not a re-allocation, but an INCREASE in service along the Culver Line.

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