Even the MTA Gives F Train an 'F'

Transit authority promises improvements soon

By Jennifer Millman
|  Saturday, Oct 10, 2009  |  Updated 10:45 AM EDT
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Even the MTA Gives F Train an 'F'

Seriously. We're so over those seats.

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When we were in school, F stood for failure. It still does, especially when it comes to evaluating the service on the MTA's 27-mile F line. Even the agency admits it.

The F train is slow, overcrowded, rarely runs on time and often skips stops, infuriating straphangers, according to a 25-page report released by the MTA yesterday.

Commuters have long complained about the trials and tribulations they endure on the F, but now that the MTA has evaluated and acknowledged just how bad it is, they can look forward to some improvements.

You know those cool looking new R160 subway cars you often see on the E? The ones with that digital display that shows you which stops are coming up and even speaks to you? Look for more of those on the F line. The spruced up cars will be a welcome respite from the dingy orange cars with the perpendicular seats that make it virtually impossible to avoid constantly knocking knees with the person next to you.

The MTA examined everything about the F trains from the amount of garbage on the seats to how many station stops got skipped each week to how often the trains were on time. The agency found only half of F trains run on schedule, and the old orange cars made matters worse; they're more likely to break down and prompt delays on the route.

The F train, which runs between Jamaica, Queens and Coney Island, shares tracks with the E, G and V lines and has many spots where tracks come together and diverge, according to the Daily News. As you can imagine, a holdup on the oft-delayed F train then slows down all other lines that share its tracks.

So what does the MTA plan to do about it? Revise the line's timetable, for one. It hasn't been modified in the last eight years, during which time ridership has jumped by 15 percent, reports The New York Times.

Conductors will also be told to cease skipping stops, which actually causes delays because frustrated straphangers have to get off a stop early or late and wait for another train. Angry commuters + rush hour = overcrowded trains we definitely don't want to ride.

Transit authorities will also take steps to streamline construction and repair work, which has been the root of most late-night service disruptions and delays.

"We should start seeing improvements this month, and more significant improvements as we begin next year," State Senator Denial Squadron, of Brooklyn, who asked the MTA to commission the report after regular complaints from his constituents. "They're honest about putting facts behind what we already knew; that the F line is not working."

While improvements are in the works, express service in Brooklyn won't happen until 2012 once a massive renovation of the Culver viaduct is finished, reports the Times.

But it's OK, Brooklynites. There's still a lot that can be done in the meantime.

"We are taking direct action to improve performance in an area where customers have not been receiving good value," MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin told the Times.   

Meanwhile, don't blame the F if you've gotproblems getting around the city by subway this weekend. Going anywhere is going to be largely impossible because of track work.

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