State Senator Charles Squadron urges MTA to inspect R subway line


The R train is desperately in need of improvements, according to state Sen. Daniel Squadron, who is among several elected officials pushing the MTA to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the subway line.

Squadron, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, the Riders Alliance, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and 41 other elected officials called for the MTA’s next Full Line Review to study the R train.

In 2009, Squadron worked with the MTA to create Full Line Reviews of subway lines in which the agency takes a close look at train service over a period of months to see if improvements are needed.

The Full Line Reviews, which have been done for the A, C, F, G and L trains, have led to more frequent and on-time trains, newer and cleaner subway cars, and other cost-effective service improvements along the subway lines, Squadron said.

Not only are Squadron, Gentile and transit advocates seeking a Full Line Review of the R train, they are also looking for the inspection of the subway line to go faster than previous reviews of other train lines.

“This Full Line Review can’t be as delayed as an R train commute,” said Squadron (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan). “I hope the MTA pursues this Full Line Review, and quickly offers results and improvements.”

In a Jan. 11 letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, Squadron, Gentile and their fellow lawmakers urged a speedy review process.

“We also request that this review be conducted in a timely manner. The almost 18 months that it took to complete the A/C Full Line Review is, simply, too slow. Riders cannot be expected to wait that long for service assessments and improvements,” the letter reads in part.

The R train runs from 95th Street in Bay Ridge to Continental Avenue in Queens with several stops in Manhattan.

For Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst), the new push for better R train service confirms what he has always believed — that it’s not just Bay Ridge residents who are suffering.

“I have heard my local constituents’ tireless complaints regarding R train service for the entirety of my term in the City Council. However, ridership grievances stretch far beyond Bay Ridge. Riders from Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn share the same sentiment: R train service is a nightmare,” Gentile said.

The R train is repeatedly late and overcrowded, suffers from infrequent service, frequent delays, unkempt stations, inadequate audio systems and the use of older subway cars, Gentile said.

Gentile recently held a rally outside the R train station at 77th Street and Fourth Avenue to demand serviced improvements.

Lisa Levy,amember of the Riders Alliance, is an R train rider. “There’s always a problem with the R train. The other week it took me two hours to get home because of a disruption, and there was no service announcement!” she said.

Cate Contino Cowit, coordinator for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said riders want answers soon. “The goal here isn’t to study the R train to death, but to create timely and practical ways to better serve the tens of thousands who use it. Today, riders often call the R the ‘Rarely.’ Maybe if transit officials do their best, one day its nickname will be the ‘Reliable,’” she said.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the R train will be getting a Full Line review, just as all subways lines are. “Chairman Prendergast has committed to undertake Full Line Reviews of all subway lines in the system,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.

But transit advocates shouldn’t expect an R train review any time soon, according to Ortiz, who said it has to wait out of necessity.

“A review of the R has not yet been scheduled because if we were to conduct a line review of the R now, it would be obsolete almost immediately, because the opening of the Second Avenue Subway will significantly change overall service on the Broadway Line. The opening of Second Avenue Subway will affect how many people ride the R and how the R operates, so it would be premature for us to conduct an R line review on the cusp of such a change,” he said.

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