Proposed change on F train in Brooklyn shows problems, possible solutions, in whole system

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BOROUGH PARK, Brooklyn — A simple ride on the subway during morning or evening rush can clearly demonstrate new figures out from the MTA showing that subway delays are up due in part to train overcrowding. One proposal from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority intended to help relieve the problem, though, is raising concern among many subway riders that they'll end up with a much worse, much slower commute.

The new proposal is for the F train, in its section running from Church Avenue to Jay Street — MetroTech in Brooklyn.

Currently, that's an eight stop section of the one of the city's most used lines. The MTA's proposal would slash that number of stops to just two.

"I love the idea of an express," said Alexis Cordos, on the F train platform at Church Avenue. "Because the F train is extremely slow in in Brooklyn, as opposed to Queens, where it runs express."

She said that a trip on the F train in Brooklyn, where there's no express train, can take her two to three times longer than in Queens, where express F trains run concurrently with the local lines.

That difference costs many of the 125,000 riders on the F line valuable time. "Maybe 20 to 25 minutes," said passenger Jamal Targio. "I think [the express] is a good idea."

There is a flip side, however.

"That would hurt a lot," said Devin Miller, who'd just picked up his 8-year-old son, Martell, from class. "I work five days a week, and have to pick up my son here at Carroll [Street subway station, a local stop]. So that would really hurt."

The MTA acknowledges that its proposed changes may seem significant, but spokesman Kevin Ortiz told PIX11 News that the plan would reduce commutes for express train passengers by about two-and-a-half to three minutes, while increasing local passengers' trips by about a minute.

Those local passengers would still get trains during the morning and evening rush, but the trains would arrive about half as often, while the express trains breezed past.

Ortiz said that the proposal had two intentions: One, to help more distant Brooklyn commuters, who currently have about an hour long commute, slash their time getting to and from work. Two, it's meant to reduce overcrowding.

The number of train delays has increased by nearly 10 percent in the last year, from 52,000 trains to 57,000. More than a third of those delays are apparently due to overcrowding. The MTA told PIX11 News that by having two trains on separate tracks, serving local and express populations, overcrowding can be relieved.

That was some consolation to one local commuter, to a point. "As long as there's a train that's great," Kate Zilensky said. "But it would affect people" at local stations up and down the line.

Those riders will get a chance to have input on the proposal. The MTA plans to hold a series of community hearings.

It also points out that the F train had run express for many years until 1987, when some maintenance projects on the line changed its status to strictly local in Brooklyn.

If it were to change back to express service, it wouldn't happen until the autumn of 2017.

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