F train express service likely to return to Brooklyn, MTA says

The F train may resume  express  service  in Brooklyn in the fall of 2017.
The F train may resume express service in Brooklyn in the fall of 2017. Photo Credit: Ryan C. Jones

Faster F trains are on tap for Brooklyn.

News broke Tuesday, after mounting speculation, that the MTA will be bringing express F service back to the borough for the first time in 29 years. Pending public input and a board vote, half of all F trains will begin running express during peak hours in the fall of 2017.

Express service will run between the Jay Street-MetroTech and Church Avenue stations, stopping once along the way at the Seventh Avenue station. The MTA estimates this will shave travel times by 6.2 minutes, with the average express rider saving about three minutes on their commutes, according to an agency study.

“In my very first campaign over six years ago, I literally ran on this issue. I will never forget standing at F train stations, asking people for their votes so I could fight to restore the F express. They were skeptical. However, six years later we got it done!” said Brooklyn Council Member David Greenfield in a statement

Greenfield, who first alerted the press of the news, believes that travel gains will be much greater — 15 minutes per ride — and called the service a “huge victory.”

The MTA is eying express F trains to address some of the longest commutes in its subway system—trekking from Neptune Avenue to Broadway-Lafayette Street takes 43 minutes—that also serve several rapidly growing neighborhoods. The F train carries about 13,700 riders into Manhattan during an average morning peak hour.

“This will go a long way in easing the complaints we continuously get from our residents regarding their commute on the F Line,” said Barry Spitzer, the district manager of Community Board 12, which represents Borough Park, Dahill, Kensington and Midwood.

The new service will split F trains—seven will run express while another seven run local in the morning. In the evening, it’s six and six.

At the six stations that express trains will pass by, MTA estimates that customers will have to wait an additional one or two minutes for a local F.

Certain elected officials, including Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, were outraged by the way the news leaked to the press and refused to back the service, which they say commutes worse for equally blossoming neighborhoods, like Gowanus.

“We made clear from the start that we could only support an F-Express (sic) if overall service was increased on the F line and riders at local stops were not harmed,” read a joint statement signed by Lander, Councilman Stephen Levin, State Sens. Daniel Squadron, Jesse Hamilton, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin S. Parker and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also denounced the service.

“It has been clear from the beginning that bringing back express trains could not and should not come at the expense of existing local train frequencies and the growing communities that depend upon them,” he said in a statement.

The MTA says it can’t add more local trains because of rolling stock and track capacity limitations. That means express service would benefit 48 percent of riders, but the MTA believes those benefits to be considerable enough to move forward.

Some transit advocates agreed.

“Three or four minutes each trip—that adds up to a half hour or 45 minutes with your kids, neighbors or hobbies,” said Gene Russianoff of New York’s Straphangers Campaign. “It’s no small thing.”

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