Civil war! Southern Brooklyn pols defend F express plan from northern detractors

Around the bend: F express service will likely begin in late 2017, officials said.
Brooklyn Daily
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The south will ride again!

Transit officials are reviving the F express — seen as a boon for Southern Brooklynites and a boondoggle by Downtown riders — and now a civil war is brewing with Church Avenue as the proverbial Mason-Dixon Line. Northern and Southern Brooklyn pols feuded at a May 17 Council hearing over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to run the orange bullet between Church Avenue and Jay Street. Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) claimed the plan would “screw” Brownstone straphangers, because fewer trains would stop at their local-only stations. But Councilman David Greenfield (D–Borough Park) argued Lander’s gripes were just another salvo in an ongoing war of northern aggression.

“It’s not fair to say, ‘My constituents are in a wealthy, transit-rich area, but you poor schlubs who live in Southern Brooklyn shouldn’t get it,’ ” said Councilman David Greenfield. “The G train extension [in 2009] slowed down F service, and I didn’t complain — nobody complained that Councilmember Lander’s constituents had more robust service. New Yorkers don’t begrudge other New Yorkers.”

The authority is proposing half the service’s trains skip all Manhattan-bound stops between Church Avenue and Jay Street — except for Seventh Avenue — during the morning rush and vice-versa in the evenings. The re-jiggering could shave more than seven minutes off Southern Brooklynites’ trips to Manhattan while adding up to 5 minutes to Brownstone-area riders’ commutes, according to a long-awaited agency study.

Lander, who spoke earlier in the hearing, tried to fire back at Greenfield, drawing admonition from finance chairwoman Julissa Ferreras (D–Queens) and from his Brooklyn colleague.

“Let’s respect the process Councilmember Lander,” Greenfield said. “This is not the Republican debate — you don’t get a rebuttal.”

Lander argued that his constituents would saddle a disproportionate burden, because authority figures show Manhattan-bound ridership is larger — and growing faster — in his neck of the woods than Greenfield’s.

“Negatively affected riders outweigh positively affected ones,” he said.

But the plan reverses a perceived decades-long disinvestment in transit outside of the borough’s trendy, gentrified enclaves, another southern pol said.

“The perception and feeling in Southern Brooklyn is that every time there is a capital announcement, it’s not in our region,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) citing the Mayor’s proposed streetcar and ferry system — both set to serve Lander’s district. “This is news we welcome.”

Borough President Adams decried the agency for driving a railroad spike in the heart of Brooklyn’s proverbial union.

“The MTA’s newly announced proposal, which was made outside of consultation with local representatives and impacted straphangers, seeks to pit Brooklynite against Brooklynite in a fight for quality transporta­tion,” the Beep said in a press release issued just minutes before Greenfield and Lander’s Fort Sumter-esque fracas.

But the authority plans to take its proposal to both sides of the fight, an official said.

“This is the start of the process,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “We plan on engaging all of the communities that would be affected by these service changes.”

The authority cannot revive the service between Church and Stillwell avenues because tracks and switches at Kings Highway could not accommodate the additional trains, but planned work at the stop could allow express service further south after 2019, the agency’s study shows.

The authority anticipates it will roll out the express in 2017, Ortiz said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 5:52 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reader feedback

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Greenfield exempted himself and his constituents from the community of transit riders during the passing of Zoning for Quality and Affordability. I think that skipping his neighborhood for spite would be justified. But a more evenhanded person could look at the MTA's own projections that this will harm more people than it will help and choose to ignore Greenfield. Yes, he selfishly wants more more more more more for his constituents, but that's no reason anyone else should cooperate with him.
May 18, 2016, 8:40 am
Liam McCabe from South Brooklyn says:
South Brooklyn riders pay the same fare as our more wealthy downtown counterparts. Don't shortchange us! Whats fare is fair.
May 18, 2016, 9:04 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Welcome to the world of George Orwell's "Animal Farms" in this situation, where it benefits one particular group over another. If you want F Express Service, then add more permanent G Local Service with more subway cars. In addition, the signal system on the northern section of the IND Culver Line needs to be modernized with Communication Based Train Control.
May 18, 2016, 9:36 am
Reb from Kensington says:
I say South Brooklyn needs to secede and start its own borough, free of brownstones, obnoxious hipsters and yuppies, and -- well, I can't spell "artisanal."
May 18, 2016, 8:32 pm
Bk native from Kensington says:
I grew up in Coney Island and spent my entire childhood taking the dreaded F train into the city all the time. In those days it was easy to get away with smoking a little herb on the trains so once stoned it didn't matter much how long it took. But, those days are over and though I don't live down there anymore I still feel for the folks who have to take a train that stops every two minutes and takes over an hour to get to the city. Give them their express as they rightly deserve. And I'd like to add...when the hell is the F gonna finally stop at Ditmas ave. heading south? As well as when is the New borough president gonna keep his promise about returning the free Thursday night concerts back in Coney Island? He made sure to keep them going at wingate field last summer. There's been no word about the concerts this summer and there's a beautiful new venue to have them in. If he pulls the same schtick again I sincerely hope he's a one term President. Marty screwed up the seabreeze park shows but at least he kept them going in Coney Island. Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with the express train but it irks me as well as it should bother anyone else who feels shortchanged. I'll be glad to apologize to the borough Pres. If he keeps his word and brings the free concert series back!! Do the right thing. Mr. Adams. At least I think that's your name...can't be sure cause you don't seem to represent all of Brooklyn the way Marty did.
May 20, 2016, 12:44 pm
James from Graves end. says:
the f ridership is low south of church due tonite lack of express service . Many people walk or take the bus to the overcrowded Brighton line to avoid the painful trip . Park slope has lobbied hard to add an extra 15 min including the express run from church to kings highway onto a very long ride .
May 21, 2016, 10:03 pm

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