Pols call for splitting R trains between Brooklyn and Manhattan

Brooklyn elected officials suggest the MTA split the R line route so trains traversing Brooklyn do not travel to Manhattan. 
Brooklyn elected officials suggest the MTA split the R line route so trains traversing Brooklyn do not travel to Manhattan.  Photo Credit: Composite image

Some Brooklyn representatives favor cutting off R train service the stop before Manhattan because they feel the streamlined route would improve service on the notoriously unreliable line.

Rep. Max Rose signed a letter alongside three other local politicians who asked the MTA to split the R train run in two, with Brooklyn service stopping at Court Street and the Queens-Manhattan service spanning the Whitehall and 71st Avenue stations. The divided service would mimic what the authority did in 2013 while making superstorm Sandy-related repairs to the line’s Montague Tunnel.

“Many commuters braced themselves for what they thought would be a truly miserable commute,” the elected officials wrote in the letter to NYC Transit president Andy Byford, dated Feb. 15. “However, the split at Court St insulated the southern Brooklyn line from traffic delays occurring earlier along the line, improving reliability and commute times for constituents in our district.

“By bifurcating the [R train], Bay Ridge commuters were no longer being delayed due to a sick passenger up in Queens,” they added.

State lawmakers Andrew Gounardes and Mathylde Frontus, as well as Councilman Justin Brannan, signed onto the letter to end the one-seat ride to Manhattan, too.

Shams Tarek, an MTA spokesman, said in a statement that the authority appreciates the legislators “taking an active interest” in improving the R. 

“We agree that R service needs to improve, and it is something we’re very focused on — there is extensive structural rehabilitation work happening on the R line in Brooklyn right now, and we’re aggressively pursuing initiatives to improve operating procedures such as safely increasing speed limits,” Tarek said. “Regardless, we know more needs to be done.”  

The idea spelled out in the letter, which incorrectly addresses Byford as the MTA chairman, received some scorn on social media from riders who felt the curtailed service would only create new problems. Ben Kabak, of Second Avenue Sagas, said it would be much more fruitful to explore adding R service during rush hours or extending the J train down from lower Manhattan.

“The R train sucks! Its headways are terrible and inconsistent,” he tweeted. “Making it worse won’t make it better!”

Brannan said he had approached the MTA about running more R trains, but was told that additional trains would only “bunch up” during the trip.