W train returns to Queens; Astoria residents are mostly ambivalent

The W train will replace Q train service in Queens starting Nov. 7, 2016.
The W train will replace Q train service in Queens starting Nov. 7, 2016. Photo Credit: Visit Alberta

The W train made its return Monday morning, marking the first time the line will be running to Astoria since it was terminated in 2010.

It replaces Q service in Queens and will run local in Manhattan between Lexington Avenue-53rd Street and Whitehall Street. When the first phase of the Second Avenue subway opens, expected to be at the end of the year, the Q will be re-routed from the 57th Street station to head up Second Avenue. Until then, the Q will terminate at the midtown station.

Many Astoria residents mulling about 31st Street, shaded by the elevated subway tracks, on Sunday were ambivalent to the W redux and had few parting words for the Q train. They may occasionally miss a train, but they won’t necessarily miss this line.

“Miss a train? I don’t think so,” said lifelong Astoria resident John Briscione, 56, a former business owner, on the Q’s final Queens departure. “You might miss an ex-girlfriend, but you don’t miss a train.”

Perhaps that’s because the service change is expected to have little impact on Queens commutes. Peak service will remain the same, with 7 southbound and 6 northbound W trains running per rush hour. The service change does mean that about 20 fewer trains will head to and from Astoria each day, but since the length of the W line is significantly shorter than the Q, the MTA doesn’t expect service to dip.

“At end of the day, there’ll be better service due to the fact that trains will be coming from Whitehall Street and not Brooklyn, where Q trains could experience service interruptions,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

Other commuters shrugged off the return of the W train, made out of necessity and with little fanfare to facilitate the coming Second Avenue subway service.

“I’m old enough to remember the RR, BMT, IRT,” said Anthony Pappas, 70, a longtime Astoria resident and professor of economics and finance at St. John’s University, who was out on 23rd Avenue Sunday distributing literature on a local congressional race. “There are 26 letters in the alphabet. It’s just another letter.”

There were a few older Astoria residents looking forward to riding the W once again. Johnny Shin embraced the return and its relation to the imminent opening of the Second Avenue line.

“It’s how it was and it’s good to have it back — overall it’s a good thing for everyone with Second Avenue and express N service in Manhattan,” said Shin, 35, an attorney, who grew up in the neighborhood and recently moved back.

About 28 percent of residents in Astoria and Long Island City moved into the neighborhood since the MTA cut W train service in 2010, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data from 2014. Tiffany Reeves, who moved to Astoria a year ago, will be one of the first-time W riders.

“As long as the service remains as it is now, I’m okay with it,” said Reeves, a manager at a construction company.

Shin estimated that there would quite a few straphangers in Reeves’ camp.

“The neighborhood has changed so much since 2010. You have had so many people moving here,” Shin said and added with a smirk, “But they’ll figure it out. They’re smart — that’s why they moved to New York.”