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 aptsandlofts.com, 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 aptsandlofts.com-brokered 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.