The fabled F express is finally coming back to Brooklyn — sort of.
The MTA plans to run four F express trains each day — two each during the morning and evening rush hours — between Church Avenue and Jay Street-MetroTech stations, with those trains making just one stop in between at Seventh Avenue, amNewYork has learned.
“We’re adding some limited express service to the F line in Brooklyn because our customers asked, and we listened,” said MTA NYC Transit president Andy Byford in a statement. “It will benefit thousands of commuters by getting them to their destinations faster instead of sitting waiting as their train makes all local stops.”
The service is set to launch this September, marking the first time since the 1970s that a version of the F express would run through Brooklyn. The idea of launching a diamond F has been controversial, pitting residents of southern Brooklyn against those in areas like Park Slope, which will lose service under the plan due to track and rolling stock constraints that limit how many trains can run on the line.
While commuters heading toward Manhattan from areas around Coney Island have called for faster subway service for years, some believe the six skipped stations in neighborhoods like Windsor Terrace, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill are too busy to afford a reduction in service.
“Those neighborhoods have grown exponentially since the last time we had F express. It’s bypassing too many people,” said MTA board member Andrew Albert, who has instead proposed running express F service further down the line, between Coney Island and Kensington.
“What’s going to happen to the wait times for the people at Bergen, Carroll and Smith-9th?” Albert asked.
The four trains will run during the early end of each rush hour. Two Manhattan-bound trains will run express from Church between 7 and 7:30 a.m. The two Coney Island-bound trains will run express between 5 and 5:40 p.m.
The MTA said it tried to balance the demand around brownstone Brooklyn by limiting how many trains would actually run express and that hours were selected to get the largest positive impact possible. The MTA estimates that “more than half” of F rides affected by the express service will see a benefit from the changes, with some shaving about an hour off their commute each week, according to a draft news release.
Brooklyn representatives farther south like State Senators Andrew Gounardes and Simcha Felder, as well as Councilman Mark Treyger, praised the proposal as a matter of equity.
“Bus service from the west end to the Stillwell train station coupled with a train ride amounts to an over 1.5 hour commute for residents,” Treyger said. “With thousands of additional housing units coming on line and the expansion of amusements, faster and more reliable transit service is a necessity, not a luxury, and is a matter of transit equity for Southern Brooklynites.”
State Sen. Diane Savino said the MTA was “finally hearing the concerns of the residents of South Brooklyn.”
Councilman Brad Lander, who represents neighborhoods that express trains will skip and shared the concerns of Albert, was less enthused.
“We would be delighted if they were adding F express service. But they are not adding any service, just cutting service for thousands of riders and trying to dress it up as something to please other riders,” Lander said. “It’s a sad form of F train polarization.”