December 29, 2007

G Train Riders Give the G a D+

The results for the MTA's Rider Report Card for the G Line have been posted on the MTA website:

According to the MTA, 3,903 G train riders responded to the report card survey, giving the line an overall grade of D+. We expected more responses from G riders, judging from random, informal rants to Save The G's members via email, phone and subway platform encounters; we hope it's enough to give the MTA a picture of riders' needs and concerns.

It's not surprising that the biggest issue for G riders is frequency of service -- the G has long intervals between trains (longer still whenever there's any kind of delay), making commutes a daily challenge and frustration.

Again, while Save The G appreciates that the Rider Report Cards are designed to measure morning rush hour service only, it's troublesome that the G train's other service issues have been excluded from the survey - particularly regarding the reliability of weekend service through Forest Hills on weekends, severe overcrowding caused by 4-car trains, and the mechanical joke otherwise known as the "power mover" at Court Square Station, which is out of service virtually every day. It's unfortunate that the MTA's survey doesn't take those service problems into account -- if that were the case, the G would likely receive an even lower grade.

Now that the results are in, it remains to be seen what the MTA will do with the information it's gathered. Any opinions?

December 6, 2007

MTA Announces Public Engagement Webinar

From the MTA's website:

Public Engagement Webinar Information
December 10, 2007
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

Over the past six months, the MTA has engaged the public in a series of events such as public hearings and the November 17th public engagement workshop to enhance discourse on its financial plan.

As a follow up to these events, the MTA is hosting a virtual web-based forum so customers can participate from the ease of their home or office.

Please join us for a conversation with MTA leadership in a real-time, web-based interactive forum to discuss the MTA financial situation, the fare and toll increase proposal, and the capital plan.

To register, please click on the following link:

Webinars: What They Are and How They Work
Webinars are one of the most exciting new technologies connecting public agencies with their constituents. It is an electronic public meeting.

It's like a conference call - participants log onto a website and also dial into a telephone conference call number. Once linked in, participants can see and hear a series of presentations by MTA officials on the proposed fare and toll increase. You can do this at home, office or wherever you can access the Internet and a telephone.

Co-sponsored by the Empire State Transportation Alliance and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Register Here-->

November 28, 2007

NY Times: For Riders of a Stepchild Line, Even an 'F' Looks Good

How do you think the MTA will respond to the results from its recent Rider Report Card for the G line?

For Riders of a Stepchild Line, Even an ‘F’ Looks Good
New York Times
November 25, 2007

The culture of the victimhood designated on subway maps by a green line snaking from Queens to Brooklyn is well established. And so, when it comes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s rider report card program, which solicits rider evaluations, there is little suspense.

“Everybody knows what the rider report card on the G is going to be,” said Teresa Toro, transportation chairwoman of Community Board 1 in Brooklyn. Indeed, there is gleeful expectation among some of the train’s riders and advocates, from blogs (“Is the G an F?”) to civic groups, who, with regard to the line’s pending grade, are generally hoping for the worst.

Ms. Toro, for her part, has urged riders to candidly respond to the transportation authority on her blog Save the G, which takes its name from a coalition of community advocates in Brooklyn and Queens. For each line, the agency distributes paper report cards to riders at train stations for one week, and riders have additional time to fill out identical report cards online. The deadline for the G train was Thursday; Marisa Baldeo, an M.T.A. spokeswoman, said the results would be announced in December.

Among G riders, the train cuts a tragic figure: It is the system’s neglected stepchild, singularly destined never to reach Manhattan shores. That the G consists of 4 cars instead of the standard 8 or 10 only adds to its punch-line potential. A result, though, is that the very notion of including the G in the rider report card program, which extends to every line in the system, amounts to a boost of self-esteem for those who hope that a bad grade will spur improvements.

“For once,” Ms. Toro said, “the G is being measured right along with all the other lines.” In the social sense, at least, the G train has arrived.

Still, seasoned G train advocates emphasize that they have been voicing their concerns for years and that the line still has a long way to go. James Trent, chairman of the transportation committee of the Queens Civic Congress, a member of the Save the G coalition, said that given the G’s eternal and much-publicized woes, he did not find the rider report card program particularly encouraging.

“I can’t believe that they’re waiting for responses on the card to find out what people think of the G,” Mr. Trent said. “They know that already.”

The Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group, has issued report cards on individual lines, based on M.T.A. statistics, since 1997. While the G ranked fifth among the 22 lines in the group’s 2007 report, many argue that the line’s quirks and variables make it difficult to evaluate, resulting in grade inflation.

In the opinion of Gene Russianoff, a spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign, if the G train in its current incarnation were to disappear, its riders in all likelihood would happily let it slip into history. As Mr. Russianoff summed it up: “Writers in Greenpoint and Williamsburg won’t write poems about it.”

November 20, 2007

Give Thanks to Governor Spitzer and the MTA!

This year, we're grateful that the MTA has begun to survey its customers via its Rider Report Card initiative. If you didn't receive a hard-copy report card for the G line at your home station, fill one out online asap:

We're deeply thankful that Governor Spitzer has called off the MTA's proposed fare hike (though it remains to be seen what unlimited MetroCards will cost next year) - G train riders are already paying too much for second-rate service. Thanks, Governor Spitzer!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Save The G

October 28, 2007

Rush Hour Crowding on the G?

We'd like to hear from you about crowding on the G during morning rush hour:

1) At what time do you typically get on the G train?
2) At what station?
3) Towards Court Square or towards Smith-9th?
4) How crowded is it? (Can you sit? Can you stand comfortably? Do you have to squeeze in?)

Thanks to all who reply!

October 18, 2007

Update to the G Line Rider Report Card

Save The G stands corrected on an important item in our previous post.

MTA spokesman Paul Fleuranges has clarified that the Rider Report Cards are meant to examine morning rush hour service only - hence the Report Card's exclusion of most of the G's stations in Queens. (Perhaps future Report Cards can ask riders to compare their rush-hour experiences to non-rush hour experiences, so the G's full route can be evaluated.)

The MTA concedes that the "power mover" at Court Square station isn't noted on the report card, but will evaluate riders' grades on "Working elevators and escalators" with the power mover in mind. Future G train Report Cards might note the Cour Square station's power mover; however, for the purposes of this survey, please count the power mover as an escalator when you grade the G. (We ask the MTA to remind riders of this when distribution time rolls around.)

For those issues or concerns which aren't represented on the Report Card questionnaire, Save The G reminds you to make thoughtful use of the "comments" section. Mr. Fleuranges has assured us that the MTA is reviewing all written comments, so this is an important way to articulate G-line concerns not addressed in the Report Card.

G Line's Rider Report Card: Garbage In, Garbage Out?

Even though the MTA is distributing its first-ever Rider Report Card one subway line at a time, you can fill out a report card right now for any line by visiting the MTA's website.

We're worried that the MTA is stacking the deck against collecting accurate G train information, because two questions don't address the G train's service plan.

The first question on the online Rider Report Card asks, "Where do you start your trip? Select the station name where you start your trip." For the G's Rider Report Card, the pull-down menu lists only half of the G train's route: the list starts at Smith-9th Street and ends at Court Square station. We all know the G train runs to Forest Hills on weeknights (which doubles the length of its route), and once in a blue moon it's even been spotted serving Forest Hills on weekends. Having an incomplete list of stations is going to affect the G's report card -- no doubt about that.

There's another Rider Report Card question which worries us, though not as much as the fact that half the route is missing in Question #1: Question #6 asks riders to grade "Working elevators and escalators in stations." The G is the only line in the transit system which is served by a "power mover" - that is, by a moving runway of the type found in long airport corridors. Surely there are some riders who will decide to count the power mover as an escalator, for the purposes of the report card; but we think there are just as many busy New Yorkers who won't see the option on the report card and therefore won't answer accordingly. This will make responses to Question #6 incomplete and inaccurate. (For the record, the people mover is a joke. It rarely works and when it does, it doesn't ever reverse direction in the evening rush hour, as it's supposed to.)

Of course, the MTA could make adjustments to the Rider Report Card and correct these inaccuracies before it's the G's turn to be rated by its riders. Will that happen?

October 10, 2007

The Real Deal: Brooklyn Neighborhoods Suffer the G Effect

A belated -- but still timely -- posting from The Real Deal.

September 12, 12:08 pm
Brooklyn neighborhoods suffer the G effect

As Brooklyn neighborhoods like Greenpoint and Clinton Hill grow, so does disdain for the G train, which brokers and developers say is unreliable enough to hold down property values in areas that depend on it.

As riders have increased, the G trains have shortened and become less frequent. A coalition of community groups dedicated to improving the line, called Save the G, recently re-launched its website and renewed its campaign to add more cars to the train and increase its frequency during off-peak hours.

"Growing areas, like Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens and Clinton Hill have strained the G line," said Teresa Toro, founder of Save the G and Community Board 1's transportation chair.

The number of riders per year at G-only stations has increased from 8.6 million in 1995 to 12.6 million in 2006, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Critics say the trains are overcrowded.

Some developers say the G train helps keep home prices lower in Clinton Hill than in neighboring Fort Greene, and that improvements would make selling and renting properties easier in all G-serviced neighborhoods.

"It is more difficult to lease or sell a property that is serviced by the G train," said David Maundrell, president of, a Williamsburg-based brokerage. "The way we combat that is we discount our prices."

Maundrell said a Greenpoint apartment could cost 10 to 20 percent less than in nearby Williamsburg, which has better subway service.

In 2001, the MTA cut G service at 13 of its 15 Queens stops during weekdays, keeping only Court Square in Long Island City active. Two cars were removed from each G train, and the six-car G train -- already shorter than average -- became just four cars. The train's frequency also decreased. An MTA spokesman did not return calls.

"It may seem like a small difference, but while with six cars there was no overcrowding, with four cars there now is," Toro said.

In North Brooklyn, the 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning allowed denser residential projects to come to G-serviced areas.

At the 84 Eagle Street condominiums, off of Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, residents will rely on the G train, with the L over 20 blocks away. A 980-square-foot one-bedroom that will sell for about $535,000 would sell for at least $625,000 in Williamsburg, Maundrell said. The apartments, which will be ready this winter, will range from 750 to 1,000 square feet, and be priced from $535,000 to $689,000.

Maundrell said that an improved G train would make Greenpoint's properties as valuable as Williamsburg's.

"There are parts of Greenpoint that are landmarked; you walk down the street and you feel like you're in Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights," he said.

The Mynt, an rental project on the edge of Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant, is just one block from the Myrtle-Willoughby G station. Its units are "leasing at a 10 to 15 percent discount from if the building was over a few blocks and closer to the A and the C train," Maundrell said. While the Mynt now rents for $32 to $35 per square foot annually, he said with a better G train it could easily hit $40 per square foot.

Some developers downplay the G train's effect on property values. The views at some Greenpoint properties make up for the subpar subway, said Highlyann Krasnow, executive vice president of the Developers Group, which markets properties in Clinton Hill, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Krasnow said the Developers Group easily sold out the McCarren, a new Greenpoint development near the Nassau Avenue G stop with East River views. She also said she was confident that sales would be strong at the 110 Green Street Condominiums, going up near the Greenpoint Avenue G stop, one block from the waterfront. Magic Johnson's Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund is developing the six-story, 130-unit project.

Although the MTA has shown no signs of increasing G train service, it announced this spring that it will temporarily extend its service next year to five F train stops in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington. Charles Seaton, an MTA spokesman, said it would consider making the change permanent if the extension showed high ridership.

By James Kelly
Copyright © 2003-2005 The Real Deal

October 5, 2007

Save The G Asks Mayor Bloomberg a Question

Last night, Save The G members attended a town hall meeting with Mayor Mike Bloomberg in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Issues ranged from housing to waterfront access, and then STG got to speak.

We noted that the V train was created from G subway cars in 2001; that's when the G was reduced to 4-car trains. Since then, the V has consistently had the lowest ridership counts in the transit system -- and ridership on the G has soared. STG has proposed returning some of those V train subway cars back to their original G line, and asked Mayor Bloomberg to push the MTA to consider the proposal.

The Mayor said he has a phone date with the MTA's Lee Sander on Tuesday, and promised to bring up the issue with him. We hope there will be more to this story.

September 19, 2007

Half a G: Are you a Pessimist or an Optimist?

The MTA has dispensed altogether with noting the dates of canceled weekend service to Forest Hills on the G line:

How does half-a-G affect your weekend travel habits?

September 6, 2007

Crains NY article: G-Train riders want some respect

From the September 3, 2007 issue of Crain's New York Business:

G-Train riders want some respect
Truncated Queens service, unreliability bedevil customers of forgotten line

by Erik Engquist

Riders of the G train know it as an unpleasant oddity. It's the only line that never touched Manhattan. Each train has just four cars. Stations are shabby. And service is spotty, especially at the Queens end of the line.

Tired of such treatment, one group of G stalwarts is fighting back. The Save The G Coalition is surveying riders before launching a big push for improvements. As thousands of apartments go up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, ridership is rising and crowding has become commonplace during rush hour.

"Many people have told me they cannot get on Queens-bound trains," says Teresa Toro, Save The G's blogster. "Sometimes I've had to stay on the platform [and let a train pass], which was unthinkable four years ago."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is taking a wait-and-see approach. It is collecting rider "report cards" for every line and plans to look at the G's grades in the next few weeks. "We will analyze the results and develop plans to improve in areas where our riders feel we're lacking," says an MTA spokesman.

The service gaps are obvious to James Trent, transportation committee chairman of the Queens Civic Congress.

"The MTA cut the trains in half. They no longer go to Forest Hills, and they make travelers walk several hundred feet [to transfer]." Mr. Trent says. Stations are dingy and poorly maintained, he adds.

The MTA shortened the trains and the line itself early this decade. Now, trains fill just half the length of the platform, leading commuters to do what the Straphangers Campaign has dubbed the "G-train sprint," lest they miss the all-too-rare departures and have to wait an average of 10 minutes for the next one - during rush hour, no less.

Supporters say that the G has been caught in a Catch-22: neglected because it lacks riders in off-hours and lacking riders because it's neglected. "If you make service so infrequent and so unreliable, fewer and fewer people take it," says Ms. Toro, who chairs the Transportation Committee of Community Board 1, which represents G-dependent Greenpoint. "We understand that the [MTA's] budgets are in trouble, but we want to make sure that the G is not forgotten," she says.

August 31, 2007

No Service to Forest Hills this Weekend

The northbound G will terminate at Court Square over the holiday weekend:

How do these no-continuing-service weekends affect you?

August 27, 2007

When Do You Need The G?

The majority of our ongoing straw poll voters has indicated it would like more frequent service on the G train. When do you think more frequent service is needed -- rush hour or evenings/weekends? Are you mainly a G-line commuter, or do you take the line all the time? Would more frequent service change your G-riding habits?

Comments and observations, please...

August 23, 2007

Robbers on the G Train

From this week's edition of the Greenpoint Star:

Dateline : Thursday, August 23, 2007
Thugs Preying On G-Train Riders
By Phil Guie

For a pair of violent thugs, the G-train, useful for traveling between Brooklyn and Queens without having to pass through Manhattan, has also proven to be an efficient place to locate victims to rob.According to police, 23-year-old Benjamin Hedges and his accomplice, 18-year-old Jeffrey Pierre-Louis, are suspected of approaching fellow riders on separate occasions last month, pouncing on them, physically assaulting them, and removing their money and personal property.

So far, cops have reported two known attacks involving the suspects: the first occurred at 9:45 p.m. on July 21 in the Classon Avenue station; the second took place at 12:15 a.m. on July 24 in the Myrtle-Willoughby Avenue station.

News of the assaults raised concern among some G-train riders, who said trains are sometimes empty late at night. "There are a few times when it gets kind of sketchy, especially after 2 [a.m.]," said Christine Asuncion, who hops on at the Metropolitan Avenue station and rides home to the Bedford/Nostrand stop nearly every night.

Although one of the robberies took place on a Saturday evening, Asuncion said she feels safe riding the G as late as 1 a.m. on weekends, when there are often crowds.

Meanwhile, Greenpoint resident Lisa O'Neill, who often takes the Queens-bound G as late as 1 a.m., said the line definitely has more security now than in years past. "It's a lot better than it was," she said. "There used to not be cops on it, but now there is."

As of press time, cops have offered the following descriptions of the suspects: Hedges is said to be approximately 5'8" tall, weighing 150 pounds, thinly built with brown eyes and black hair; Pierre-Louis is described as standing roughly 5'9" tall, weighing 185 pounds with a medium build. He has black eyes and black hair. [PHOTOS BELOW]

Anyone with information that could lead to the pair's arrests is asked to call Crimestoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

(LEFT) Jeffrey Pierre-Louis
(RIGHT) Benjamin Hedges

August 21, 2007

MTA's current service advisory schedule for the G line

Trains run in two sections:
1. Between Court Sq and Bedford-Nostrand Avs
2. Between Bedford-Nostrand Avs and Smith-9 Sts
Late nights, 11 PM to 5 AM Wed to Fri, Aug 22 - 24

How does this affect my trip?
Transfer at Bedford-Nostrand Avs to continue your trip.

Why is service being changed?
We are performing signal work to ensure that subways continue to operate safely along the G line.

No trains between 71-Continental Avs and Court Sq
Late nights until Aug 31 8:30 PM to 5 AM Mon to Fri

How does this affect my trip?
For Brooklyn service, take the E to 23 St-Ely Av and transfer to the G at Court Sq.
For Queens service, take the E instead.

Why is service being changed?
We are performing track replacement to ensure that subways continue to operate safely along the G line.

To view these notices as PDFs, visit this MTA-NYC Transit website:

August 15, 2007

G Line Rider Report Card Available Now on MTA Website

This summer, MTA-NYC Transit instituted a Rider Report Card, distributing both at subway stations and online. The first Rider Report Card was distributed for the #7 line; MTA-NYCT just announced that the L line is next in line.

However, if you visit the MTA-NYC Transit website, you can complete an online Rider Report Card for the G train, as well as all of the other subway lines. (In multiple languages, no less.) Go for it!

Our only beef is that when you're asked to indicate which subway station from which you typically board the G, only half the route is offered in the drop-down menu - yet more evidence that the MTA would love to permanently halve the line and make the final northbound stop Court Square Station.

Last: if you haven't taken our own straw poll, please do so. It's got some items that are not included on the Rider Report Card - like the possibility of extending G service farther south into Brooklyn.

August 14, 2007

The Subway's 'Underdog'

From today's Metro NY:

The subway’s ‘underdog’
Brooklyn blogger expresses G love, and calls for better service
by michael rundle / metro new york
AUG 14, 2007

INTERVIEW. The much-maligned G train is in need of a boost, according to a Brooklyn blogger. The area it serves is booming and ridership is growing, but the trains are still the shortest and breakdowns are increasing. Now the “Save The G” campaign, a group of transit advocates formed in 2001, is relaunching its Web site and calling on the MTA to bring the G into the 21st century. Metro asked “Save The G” staffer Teresa Toro to explain why the ghost train deserves our love.

What’s wrong with the G?

It’s a reliability issue. Even when the G is running, people have learned not to trust that it will run on schedule. It has some of the longest waiting times in the system. When you know the next train isn’t going to be for 10 minutes, and you hear it coming in, and you know it will be all the way down the platform because it’s only four cars long — people sprain ankles and drop belongings desperately trying to run for the train.

Why do we need to save it?

G train ridership has been steadily increasing and the MTA still hasn’t given the G train the kind of attention and planning it gives to other lines. The changes in service a few years ago were based on studies predicting population declines on the Brooklyn waterfront. Clearly the opposite has happened.

Do you still have affection for the G despite these problems?

The G is the transit system’s underdog. It’s kind of this underachieving kid that you want to do well because you see the potential.

Were you inspired by the recent campaign for an F train express?

That was really exciting, yes, because the G is another underused train. It could connect to so much more. It definitely was inspiring. Also the new leadership at the MTA was a nice change of pace. I think the key is strength in numbers. People don’t realize their inconvenience is the pet peeve of 12,000 other people.

What practical changes do you want the MTA to make?

In the short term we want better communications. We also think that the new Rider Report Cards should be introduced into the G.

And the V has the least ridership numbers in the system. I don’t see why the MTA can’t consider reallocating some of those cars.

With budget shortfalls on the horizon is this the wrong time to push for investment?

No, actually this is the time to be reminding the MTA that the G is providing more service than it used to.

Where to go
The “Save the G” campaign can be found at

August 12, 2007

Welcome to Save The G's blog

After a too-long hiatus, Save The G is re-establishing our web presence. You'll be hearing about our advocacy efforts for longer trains, shorter waits, and cleaner stations. Our website is also getting a much-needed overhaul; we'll let you know when it's back up.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you. Please post G train related news, comments, and ideas and meet your fellow G train riders!

Save The G