G Train To Make Manhattan Stops

gtr.jpgApril Fool’s! The city council has organized a public MTA oversight hearing on the G train Tuesday, April 8 at 1 pm, so BB felt it was time to bone up on our scrappy local line.

History
The Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown Local opened in 1937 as part of the Independent Subway System, when the shuttle between Queens Plaza and Nassau Ave., in operation since 1933, was extended to Hoyt-Schemerhorn (whose two empty tracks used to service a shuttle to Court St.) From there the G continued to Smith-9th St. on the “Culver Line.”

bs.jpgFrom 1968-1976, the G ran to Church Ave., and the F went express between Church and Jay St. during rush hour. (Enlarge this minimalist 1972 subway map for the extended route.) During that time, it was possible to catch the F at Bergen station’s now-shuttered lower level, where a scene in Jacob’s Ladder was filmed.

In 1998, the G became the first”conductorless” train on weekends, other than shuttles. By 2005, it was operated by one person at all times.

In Dec. 2001, when the 63rd St. Connector Tunnel opened and the MTA introduced the V train shortly after, the G officially dropped from 6-car trains — already short by normal, 8- to 10-car standards — to 4. (Though this Times article states that it had 4 cars in 1998. Hmmm…) The MTA also cut the G’s route nearly in half, and Court Square became its new terminus, eliminating the once-easy transfer to Manhattan at Queens Plaza.

elev.jpgWhen repair on the elevated tracks between Carroll St. and 4th Ave. –- the Culver Viaduct — begins this December, the G will again run to Church Ave., permanently connecting Kensington and Park Slope to Carroll Gardens, Downtown Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Queens, even after the 4-year job is done.

The work will close the Smith-9th Street station for 9 months, but when it reopens, the 91-foot-high station — the highest in the subway system, elevated because it was cheaper than digging beneath the Gowanus — could ultimately house a restaurant.

Lore
south4.jpg A “Second System” of subway lines and routes that would put a subway within a half mile of everyone’s home was announced a few weeks before the 1929 stock market crash scrapped those plans. On the drawing board: a Manhattan subway line that would enter Brooklyn from under Houston and the East River to Grand St. in Williamsburg. It would then run to South 4th St. and Union Ave., where it would connect with the G train at Broadway, continue through Bushwick to Stuyvesant Ave., then south to Utica Ave. near Fulton. While building the G’s Broadway station, construction workers built 100 feet of this proposed South 4th station above the Broadway station. You can see pictures of the abandoned stop here.

brod.jpgGaffes
Along one of the platforms at Broadway, the street name is actually spelled “Brodaway” in tile. Oops.

Nicknames
Rolling Zoo, Rape Train (for the widely-publicized rapes in 1998 and 2006).

leas.jpgCutest G Train Accessory
The G train dog leash, available at the Transit Museum Store for $36.

Performance
G trains run less frequently than most other lines — during rush hour the gap between trains is an extra 1 to 2 and a half minutes — but they arrive with greater regularity according to the Straphangers Campaign, which ranked the G 5th out of the system’s 22 lines.

chang1.jpg

Ridership
Since the first subways opened in 1904, the MTA has tracked ridership on specific lines by turnstile counts — an imprecise measurement, since someone entering at Metropolitan/Lorimer (which features Jackie Chang’s mosaics) could be getting on the L or the G. Still, at the Greenpoint Ave. station alone, ridership shot up from 1.6 million in 1986 to 2.3 million in 2006. In the same period at the Clinton/Washington stop, it jumped from 800,000 to 1.4 million. Overall annual G Train ridership is estimated to be 30 million.

Complaints
Aside from the infrequent service, many G train riders demand that the line reinstate the 6-car G to eliminate the “G-train sprint” and major overcrowding en route to Queens. Also on the wish list: increase service past Court Square, which is nearly always suspended; and connect Atlantic Ave. to the Fulton St. G stop, either through a 660-foot tunnel or a free street transfer, like the one between the G and 7 at Court House Square.

To lodge your complaints, hear about future G train plans and ridership data, attend the MTA hearing on Tues., April 8 at 1 pm, at Council Chambers, City Hall. More info at savetheg.blogspot.com.
Thanks to Teresa Toro of Save The G, Joseph Brennan and NYC Transit for research assistance.

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