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G (New York City Subway service)

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Crosstown Local
"G" train symbol
View of the end of a southbound "G" train at the elevated Smith-Ninth Streets station. The train consists of cars with the contract name R68.
A train made of R68 cars in G service at Smith–Ninth Streets, bound for Church Avenue.
Map of the "G" train
Northern end Court Square
Southern end Church Avenue
Stations 21
Rolling stock 52 R68s (13 trains)[1]
(Rolling stock assignments subject to change)
Depot Coney Island Yard
Started service August 19, 1933; 84 years ago (1933-08-19)
Route map
no regular service trains
continue east
 G  Down arrow
Court Square
21st Street
Greenpoint Avenue
Nassau Avenue
Metropolitan Avenue
Broadway
Flushing Avenue
Myrtle–Willoughby Avenues
Bedford–Nostrand Avenues
Classon Avenue
Clinton–Washington Avenues
Fulton Street
 A  C  trains continue east
Hoyt–Schermerhorn Streets
 A  C 
trains continue
to Manhattan
no regular service
to Court Street
 F  trains continue north
Bergen Street
Carroll Street
Smith–Ninth Streets
Fourth Avenue
Seventh Avenue
15th Street–Prospect Park
Fort Hamilton Parkway
 G  Up arrow
Church Avenue
 F  trains continue south

Lines used by the  G 
Other services sharing
tracks with the  G 
Unused lines, connections,
or service patterns

Cross-platform interchange

Platforms on different levels

The G Crosstown Local is an 11.4-mile-long (18.3 km)[2] rapid transit service in the B Division of the New York City Subway. Its route emblem, or "bullet", is colored light green since it uses the IND Crosstown Line.[3]

The G operates at all times between Court Square in Long Island City, Queens, and Church Avenue in Kensington, Brooklyn, making local stops along its entire route. The G is the only non-shuttle service in the system that does not serve Manhattan. It suffers from constant service disruptions, infrequent train headways, few free transfers to other services, and low rolling stock capacity, leading to criticism from politicians and residents of the neighborhoods through which it travels. Since the 2000s, several improvements have been made to the G, including a route extension in Brooklyn and a full-route audit that identified solutions for issues on the G service.

The G serves two stations in Queens: Court Square and 21st Street, which are both in Long Island City. Prior to 2010, it served all stations on the IND Queens Boulevard Line between Court Square and 71st Avenue in Forest Hills. In 1939 and 1940, the G also used the now-demolished IND World's Fair Line to access the 1939 New York World's Fair. From 1976 to 2009, the G short-turned at Smith–Ninth Streets.

History[edit]

The original Brooklyn–Queens Crosstown Local service began on August 19, 1933, as a shuttle between Queens Plaza on the IND Queens Boulevard Line and Nassau Avenue. This service was designated GG because the IND used double letters to indicate local service. Starting on April 24, 1937, GG trains were extended to Forest Hills–71st Avenue during rush hours, serving as the Queens Boulevard local while E trains ran express west of Continental Avenue.[4] The entire IND Crosstown Line was completed on July 1, 1937, including the connection to the IND Culver Line.[5] GG service ran at all times between Forest Hills–71st Avenue and Church Avenue. Soon after, it was cut back to Smith–Ninth Streets.[6]

The 1939 World's Fair was served by GG trains, some of which were marked as S Special. The trains ran via the short-lived[7] IND World's Fair Line to Horace Harding Boulevard. Trains were extended to the World's Fair Station at all times during the fair, supplemented by PM hour E trains.[8] The fair closed on October 28, 1940, and GG service was truncated back to Forest Hills–71st Avenue,[9][10] since the World's Fair Line was being demolished that year.[7]

Dark green "GG" train symbol in use from 1967 to 1979
November 26, 1967 – June 1979 bullet

On July 1, 1968,[4] service was again extended to Church Avenue during rush hours. During these times, the F train operated as an express on the IND Culver Line.[4][11] This service pattern ended on August 30, 1976, due to budget cuts and because of complaints from many customers at local stations on the IND Culver Line who wanted direct access to Manhattan. Afterwards the GG was cut back to Smith–Ninth Streets.[11][12][13] On August 27, 1977, GG service was cut back to Queens Plaza during late nights, being replaced by the F.[14] Effective May 6, 1985, use of double letters to indicate local service was discontinued, so the GG was relabeled G.[15][16]

Light green "GG" train symbol in use from 1979 to 1985
June 1979 – May 6, 1985 bullet

On May 24, 1987, the N and R services switched terminals in Queens. As part of the reroute plan, Queens Plaza became the northern terminal for the G train on evenings, weekends and late nights.[17] Three years later, on September 30, 1990, G service was extended to 179th Street during late nights to replace the F, which terminated at 21st Street–Queensbridge.[18]

Beginning on March 23, 1997, due to construction on the connector between the IND 63rd Street Line and the IND Queens Boulevard Line, G trains terminated at Court Square on evenings, nights and weekends. On August 31, 1997, late night service was permanently cut back from 179th Street to Court Square as a result of the F running local east of Queens Plaza, which meant that the G only ran along the Queens Boulevard Line on weekdays.[19] On December 16, 2001, the 63rd Street Connector opened and Court Square became the northern terminal for the G train during weekdays, while G service was extended to Forest Hills–71st Avenue at all other times, which represented the reverse of the previous pattern. Service along the IND Queens Boulevard Line was replaced by the new V train during weekdays.[11][19]. The G was to be truncated to Court Square at all times to make room for the V, but due to rider opposition, it was cut back only on weekdays until 8:30 pm.[19]

On July 5, 2009, the G was once again extended south at all times to Church Avenue.[20] This was required for overhaul of the Culver Viaduct, which caused the express tracks at Smith–Ninth Streets and Fourth Avenue/Ninth Street—used to switch G trains between tracks after they terminated at Smith–Ninth Streets—to be temporarily taken out of service.[6][11][19] This had several benefits. First, five stations previously served by only the F train had more frequent service. Additionally, riders from northern Brooklyn and Long Island City had a direct route to Kensington. Finally, since the Church Avenue terminal had four tracks to store terminating G trains, as opposed to only one storage track at Smith–9th Streets, this reduced delays on both services because terminating G trains could switch to the storage tracks without having to wait in the station for another train to leave, as had occurred at Smith–Ninth Street.[11] On July 19, 2012, MTA officials made this extension permanent because it provided more direct connections between Kensington and north Brooklyn.[6][19]

Due to the MTA financial crisis in the late 2000s, the G was to be cut back from Forest Hills–71st Avenue to Court Square at all times beginning June 27, 2010.[21] However, due to planned track repairs during the times the G normally ran on the IND Queens Boulevard Line, it ceased running on that line on April 19.[19] In addition, train headways were reduced, which inconvenienced about 201,000 weekly commuters since they had to wait longer for G trains.[22][23]

Flood waters from Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to the Greenpoint Tubes under the Newtown Creek. Although the G was back in service days after the hurricane, the tube needed permanent repairs. To allow for these repairs, G service ran only between Nassau Avenue and Church Avenue for twelve weekends between July and December 2013. This schedule was also in effect daily between July 25 and September 2, 2014.[2]

Controversies[edit]

The underground Court Square station is the "G" train's northern terminus. There are two tracks in the station, one on each side of the center platform, with a "G" train on the right-hand track.
The northern terminus of the G train at Court Square

The G suffers from a wide range of issues that has resulted in complaints by people living along the route.[24] Historically, it has only connected Brooklyn and Queens,[19] resulting in many people thinking of the G as the subway system's "outcast"[25] and the "unwanted drunk uncle everyone has."[26] One reporter wrote of the G, "[Riders] need it because it goes where no other train does, but they hate that they need it." Compounding to the G's "outcast" reputation, some of the G's stations along the Crosstown Line are in bad shape.[26] Since 2001, however, a series of service cuts and missing connections to other lines has worsened public opinion of the G.[26]

Since December 2001, the G's northern terminus has been cut back from Forest Hills to Court Square during the weekdays,[27] and since June 2010, this service pattern has applied 24/7.[19][28] This service pattern not only puts more ridership pressure on the E route—already one of the system's busiest before 2001[29]—but also required G trains' lengths to be shortened by about one-third, from 450 feet (140 m) to 300 feet (91 m).[19] In addition, between 2001 and 2010, weekend service along the G to Forest Hills had been intermittent, with frequent service changes due to "track work".[30][26] The 2010 route reduction did increase service frequency on the remainder of the route.[19] Finally, the G has few transfers to other lines, with missing transfer points to the J, M, and Z​ trains at Broadway and the 2, ​3, ​4, ​5​, B, ​Q​, D, ​N, ​R, and ​W trains at Fulton Street,[19][31] as well as a lack of an ADA-accessible transfer to the 7 and <7>​ trains at Court Square.[19]

63rd Street Connector service reductions[edit]

When the connector to the IND 63rd Street Line from the IND Queens Boulevard Line was completed in December 2001, it not only introduced the new V service, but also allowed up to nine additional trains to and from Manhattan on the Queens Boulevard Line during peak hours.[27] However, to make room for the V train on Queens Boulevard, the G had to terminate at Court Square on weekdays.[32] The reroute of the G was part of the original plans of the 63rd Street tunnel and connector, going back to the late 1960s.[33][34][35] The service plan was designed to redistribute Queens-bound passenger loads on the crowded IND Queens Boulevard Line, which ran under 53rd Street while in Manhattan. In turn, this plan was intended to bring better service and transfer opportunities as the V train allowed direct access to 53rd Street and the IND Sixth Avenue Line for Queens Boulevard Local customers. The New York Times prematurely described the service plan as "complex and heavily criticized" because it put more crowding on the E train.[29]

In response to complaints from G riders at public hearings about losing a major transfer point to Manhattan-bound trains at Queens Plaza, the MTA agreed to a number of compromises, including installing a moving sidewalk in the passageway between Court Square and 23rd Street–Ely Avenue (now served by the E and ​M trains) on the Queens Boulevard Line.[19] In addition, a free out-of-system MetroCard transfer to 45th Road–Court House Square on the IRT Flushing Line was created at those two stations.[19] This special transfer was discontinued when construction of an in-system transfer at the corner of 23rd Street and 45th Road that opened on June 3, 2011, which made only the Flushing Line station ADA-accessible.[19] The MTA provided $17 million in funding for making the Crosstown Line accessible as part of the 2015–2019 Capital Program.[36][37]

The MTA also agreed to extend the G to Forest Hills–71st Avenue during evenings and weekends (when the V was not running), and run more trains on that route. There was a four-hour period where the G, R, and V, as well as the Queens Boulevard line's express services, the E and the F, were all supposedly running at once since the V stopped running at midnight and the G was extended to 71st Avenue at 8:00 p.m. The authority "had spent several hundred thousand dollars on tests, trying to figure out a way to keep the G train running past Court Square and farther into Queens on weekdays, but because of the addition of the V train, which shared space along the Queens Boulevard Line with the trains already there (the E, F and R trains), G trains could not fit during the daytime, when service is heaviest."[29]

However, due to construction on the Queens Boulevard Line, the G train frequently terminated at Court Square even at times when the published timetable said it ran to 71st Avenue.[19] Some riders were suspicious that the service disruptions were "simply a de facto way to implement the original plan of halving G train service." The original plans called for the G terminate at Court Square at all times; that plan was shelved in 2001 in the face of community opposition, but the MTA decided to implement it in 2010.[19][28] An MTA spokesman said, "It's not personal…. If you want to keep the system up to date, you need to make sure the track and switching are all in good repair."[30]

Community groups such as Save the G! and the Riders Alliance have been frequent activists for improvements of G service. Save the G! regularly lobbied the MTA for more G train service since the original cutbacks when the V was introduced in 2001. They made the restoration of service to the Queens Boulevard Line at all times an issue in the 2002 New York gubernatorial race, but the transit authority said, "Unfortunately, putting the G back to full service is just not an option, given our track capacity—and that's not likely to change."[38]

Changes to train length[edit]

An overhead sign at an underground "G" train station. The sign's text says, "'G' stops at center of platform". There is a U-turn arrow icon on the left side of the sign, next to the text.
An overhead sign at an underground "G" train station. The sign's text says, "'G' train stops here. Wait here to board". There is an icon of a train on the left side of the sign, next to the text.
Signs at Bergen Street (top) and Nassau Avenue (bottom) directing passengers to the correct boarding areas, due to the short 300-foot (91 m) length of the trains.

To increase service and reduce waiting time due to the 63rd Street Connector cutbacks, the G would need more trains, but there were not enough cars available in the system. The solution was to reduce the length of trains in order to increase service frequency.[19] Historically, the G line had run 8 60-foot (18 m) car trains or 6 75-foot (23 m) car trains; both were shorter than the typical 600-foot (180 m) length of B Division trains because ridership was deemed too low to justify running full-length G trains in frequent intervals.[19] Under the 2001 plan, trains were shortened from six 75-foot (23 m) cars to four, sticking all the leftover cars together to make the extra trains for the G, and the additional trains needed for V service.[19][39] Thus, G service now operates 300-foot (91 m) trains, half the length of normal B Division standards. It also operates One Person Train Operation (OPTO) service during late nights and weekends.[19]

This, however, meant there would be more riders packed into smaller trains, and led some passengers to miss trains because they were standing at the wrong part of the platform.[40] In the past, there have been signs indicating where the train stops at some stations, in addition to the "4" and "6" markers next to the tracks used by train operators as stop points. Still, the overall lack of visual identifiers of train stop points on the platforms, the differing stop points during different times of day, and the location of staircases, transfer passageways and platform benches have been cited as a cause of passengers missing trains or being bunched into single cars.[19][41] Beginning in 2013, additional signs were installed along G train platforms.[42] In 2014, several improvements were implemented due to an infusion of extra funding, with G trains to be lengthened in 2019 (see below).[41][43][44][45]

Non-free transfers[edit]

Save the G!, the Riders Alliance, and other organizations have also lobbied for the creation of new free out-of-system transfers to nearby stations. The most prominent is between Broadway on the Crosstown Line and either Hewes Street or Lorimer Street on the BMT Jamaica Line, which are both about three blocks away; this transfer has been previously proposed.[19][31] In 2005, an MTA spokesperson stated, "We have no intention of making that a permanent free transfer."[46] This sentiment was repeated in 2013, with the MTA citing the loss of around $770,000 in revenue if the transfer were to become free.[19][47] Temporary free transfers have been provided in the past, including one to Lorimer Street in 1999 due to suspended service over the Williamsburg Bridge on the J, M, and Z​ trains, and again during the Summer 2014 G service suspension north of Nassau Avenue.[19][48] The temporary Lorimer Street–Broadway transfer is due to be reinstated for 18 months beginning in January 2019, when the BMT Canarsie Line tunnels under the East River are closed for construction related to the Fix and Fortify program initiated by the MTA after Hurricane Sandy.[49][50]

A second transfer, from Fulton Street to the busy Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center complex in Downtown Brooklyn, was rejected by the MTA due to the long walking distance between the two stations, as well as the fact that there is a transfer to Manhattan-bound A and ​C trains at Hoyt–Schermerhorn Streets.[19][31]

Improvements[edit]

A reopened subway station entrance on South Portland Avenue, at the "G" train's Fulton Street station. This entrance consists of a staircase that descends underground; it is surrounded by a forest-green banister.
A reopened entrance to the Fulton Street station along South Portland Avenue

Most stations along the IND Crosstown Line were built with multiple exits to the street. Over the years, many lower-use exits were closed (as they were in other parts of the subway), as the city was concerned that they were a magnet for criminals;[51] this resulted in G trains along the Crosstown Line needing to stop at the locations closest to the exits.[19] However, in July 2005, in response to community pressure, the MTA agreed to re-open the South Portland Avenue exit of the Fulton Street station. The New York Times described it as a "minor victory" for "a maligned line."[51] Additionally, in 2019, the Court Square station will get several new stairways to accommodate increased ridership from L train riders during the reconstruction of the BMT Canarsie Line tunnels under the East River, which is scheduled to start in January of that year.[25]

The G train's southern extension to Church Avenue, implemented in 2009 and confirmed permanently in 2012, has also been an improvement, as it reduced the need for riders from Park Slope and Kensington to make multiple train transfers to get to northern Brooklyn and Queens.[6][11][19]

State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malave Dilan requested a "Review of the G Line" since the route had been maligned by riders because of its unreliability.[40] The review, conducted in 2013, recommended a few service implements for the G.[19][41][40] On June 9, 2014, a budget surplus in the MTA caused these improvements to be implemented. These improvements included an increase in the number of trains per hour, from six trains per hour to 7.5 trains per hour during evening rush hour; uniform stopping locations for trains, whereas previously, trains stopped at different places along the platform at different times of the day; public service announcement systems on platforms along the IND Crosstown Line; relocated benches; and new CCTV systems installed for OPTO.[41][43][52] Such improvements eliminated the infamous "G train sprint,"[40] wherein riders ran for G trains that stopped at the other end of the platforms.[53][54] Despite the influx of ridership, train lengths did not change. However, the G is expected to get full length trains to accommodate displaced L train riders in 2019. This is made possible because the delivery of new R179 subway cars consists to other routes makes it possible for older fleet from these other routes to be passed onto the G.[43][44][45]

Since 2010, ridership on the G has risen 17%, with approximately 150,000 riders per weekday in 2015.[25] It is the route with the fastest growing ridership base in the entire system.[40] These improvements will also have the side benefit of being able to accommodate the growing ridership base in gentrified neighborhoods along the G, like Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Long Island City. This is due in part because the G's weekday frequencies have become more dependable as a result of its 2013 review.[19][25] However, weekend service was still lacking, according to some riders.[25]

Route[edit]

Service pattern[edit]

The G uses the following lines with the same service pattern at all times.[55]

Line From To Tracks
IND Crosstown Line Court Square Hoyt–Schermerhorn Streets all
IND Culver Line Bergen Street Church Avenue local

Stations[edit]

For a more detailed station listing, see the articles on the lines listed above.

Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Stops all times except late nights Stops all times except late nights
Stops late nights only Stops late nights only
Stops weekdays only Stops weekdays only
Station closed Station closed
Stops rush hours only Stops rush hours only (limited service)
Stops rush hours in peak direction only Stops weekdays in the peak direction only
Time period details
Handicapped/disabled access Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
Handicapped/disabled access ↑ Station is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
in the indicated direction only
Handicapped/disabled access ↓
Aiga elevator.svg Elevator access to mezzanine only
G service Stations Handicapped/disabled access Subway transfers Connections
Queens
Crosstown Line
Stops all times Court Square Elevator access to mezzanine only 7 all times <7> rush hours until 9:30 p.m., peak direction​ (IRT Flushing Line) at Court Square
E all timesM weekdays until 11:00 p.m. (IND Queens Boulevard Line at Court Square–23rd Street)
Stops all times 21st Street
Brooklyn
Stops all times Greenpoint Avenue
Stops all times Nassau Avenue
Stops all times Metropolitan Avenue L all times (BMT Canarsie Line at Lorimer Street)
Stops all times Broadway
Stops all times Flushing Avenue
Stops all times Myrtle–Willoughby Avenues
Stops all times Bedford–Nostrand Avenues B44 Select Bus Service
Stops all times Classon Avenue
Stops all times Clinton–Washington Avenues
Stops all times Fulton Street
Stops all times Hoyt–Schermerhorn Streets A all timesC all except late nights (IND Fulton Street Line)
Culver Line
Stops all times Bergen Street F all times
Stops all times Carroll Street F all times
Stops all times Smith–Ninth Streets F all times
Stops all times Fourth Avenue F all times
D late nightsN late nightsR all timesW limited rush hour service only (BMT Fourth Avenue Line at Ninth Street)
Stops all times Seventh Avenue F all times
Stops all times 15th Street–Prospect Park F all times
Stops all times Fort Hamilton Parkway F all times
Stops all times Church Avenue Handicapped/disabled access F all times

In popular culture[edit]

The G train is shown in the TV series Girls, as the show's main character, Hannah, lives in Greenpoint (near a stop along the G) and sometimes uses the route.[25][56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Korman, Joe (January 1, 2017). "BMT-IND Car Assignments". JoeKorNer. 
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  42. ^ Upadhye, Janet (January 13, 2014). "MTA's New Signs Do Little to Curb the 'G Train Sprint,' Locals Say". Fort Greene, Brooklyn: DNAinfo.com. Archived from the original on November 25, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  43. ^ a b c Rivoli, Dan (June 8, 2014). "G train service to become more frequent". AM NY. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
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