Riders, Community Activists and Politicians Rally to Save the G
Feb 25, 2009 by Khristina Narizhnaya
Since the V train was introduced in 2001, the Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown local G train service to 71st Avenue in Forest Hills has been a hotly debated issue between community groups and the MTA. With major budget deficits looming over, the fate of the G train is on the chopping block once again. To save money, MTA is proposing to cut G train service to 71st Avenue permanently, making Court Square in Long Island City the last and final stop.
Not surprisingly, the proposal was met with loud opposition from G train riders, community groups and local elected officials in North Brooklyn and Queens.
Last week the Straphangers Campaign, a NYPIRG campaign to improve mass transit in New York City, held a mock funeral for the G train service to 71st Avenue at Court Square station. Bagpiper John Maynard played several funerary tunes as “mourners” in black armbands, joined by Assembly members Joseph Lentol and Hakeem Jeffries, looked on. After the music, a minute of “subway silence” was observed, followed by laments regarding the G train service cut.
“Thousands of working people rely on this train to get to work and to live their lives,” said Gene Russianoff, the staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “Without the G service [to Forest Hills] commuters will have longer walks or extra walks or transfers.”
Lentol said that although he doesn’t know what it will take to negotiate with Albany to save the G, in the upcoming weeks he is going to try to make sure any MTA-related financial legislation will include improvements to the G line.
“The transit system is suffering a major short fall and I will try to make sure that financing will be allocated for a better G service,” said Lentol.
Two days after “interring” the G train to Forest Hills, Lentol and Jeffries invited Richard Ravitch, the Chairman of the Commission of MTA Financing, along with MTA planning and operations experts, to ride the G train during rush hour with them to show the necessity and the shortcomings of the G line.
“There are a lot of people who depend on the G train,” said Ravitch after riding the G from Metropolitan Station in Williamsburg to Court Square in Queens. “I think a fair explanation of how it will be improved is in order.”
Ravitch’s proposed MTA rescue plan will adopt East River bridge tolls and a payroll tax on businesses to raise revenue in order to prevent public transportation service cuts.
Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 member and volunteer with Brooklyn Committee of Alternative Transportation Kevin Vincent said the G train needs to be saved in order to sustain the lives of local people, and to attract new residents to the neighborhood.
“New residents coming in to the neighborhood will have a harder time commuting,” said Vincent. “Also, the G train cut puts out a whole slew of working families.”
“The G train has been on the MTA’s endangered list for a while, but it’s always been a survivor,” said Teresa Toro of the Save the G Coalition. “Even in these hard times the G holds a special place in its riders’ hearts.”