G train summer shutdown: ‘Czar’ will oversee service disruptions amid repairs, MTA says

G train pulling into Court Square station
A G train at Court Square in 2021.
Wikimedia Commons/GeneralPunger

A “czar” will oversee the G train’s partial shutdown this summer while the Crosstown Line undergoes a much-needed signal infrastructure upgrade, MTA officials said Thursday.

Testifying at a budget hearing of the City Council’s Transportation Committee on March 14, MTA New York City Transit President Richard Davey said the authority intends to centralize responsibilities for handling the multi-week shutdown in one “czar,” whose duties will particularly revolve around adequate service on free shuttle buses.

The Crosstown Line, the only subway route that doesn’t touch Manhattan, will shut down in phases from late June through early September between Court Square in Long Island City and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets in Downtown Brooklyn.

In that timespan, the MTA will be upgrading the G’s Great Depression-era analog signals with modern Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), which allows trains to run more closely together and has significantly improved reliability on the L and 7 lines, the only ones fully equipped with the technology.

Left unanswered Thursday was how to minimize the disruption to riders’ commutes using shuttle buses, which will inevitably become stuck in traffic that the G train does not experience. That included a question from local Council Member Lincoln Restler on whether new bus lanes or busways should be installed to speed up commutes for G riders.

The decision on that lies not with the MTA but with the city Department of Transportation, which did not return a request for comment.

Last year, DOT built only 5.2 miles of new bus lanes across the city out of a required 30, the second year in a row the agency significantly failed to miss legal benchmarks under the Streets Master Plan.

Local elected officials have expressed concern over the lengthy shutdown, particularly for residents of Greenpoint without other train service options. A coalition has called for using the shutdown to pursue other upgrades to the line, including restoring service to Forest Hills, increasing the number of train cars to be consistent with other lines, and increasing frequency.

The MTA is also in the midst of installing CBTC on the Queens Boulevard Line, which serves the E, F, M, and R routes, along with the F train’s Culver Line in southern Brooklyn and the A/C/E 8th Avenue line in Manhattan.

But further CBTC projects, including on the A/C Fulton line in Brooklyn and the B/D/F/M 6th Avenue line in Manhattan, are on hold due to the multiple lawsuits attempting to overturn congestion pricing, which would fund those signal improvements.