Riders Alliance, officials call for extension of G train transfer at Lorimer

Straphangers wait for the G train at the Straphangers wait for the G train at the Smith and 9th Street station in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Scout Tufankjian

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G train riders will welcome the end of repairs that have cut off access to Queens, but not the end of a free out-of-station transfer in Williamsburg.

A transit group, Riders Alliance, and Brooklyn elected officials want the MTA to keep letting G train passengers that use pay-per-ride MetroCards to freely transfer to the J and M lines at the Lorimer Street stop. It's a gift the agency offered to ease problems during a five-week project that will end Sept. 2 to fix the Greenpoint tunnel beneath Newton Creek.

"We need to have a transfer because the G is really all about connectivity. And connectivity between the G and the J/M would fundamentally change what the G train means," said state Sen. Dan Squadron outside the Broadway G train station.

But the MTA does not see it that way and plans to keep offering this perk only during service outages.

"When the Greenpoint Tube returns to service and the G train resumes its usual route on the day after Labor Day, the temporary transfer will no longer be in effect," said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg.

Keeping the benefit would allow riders who walk a few blocks from the Broadway stop to the elevated station at Lorimer Street and gain access to Manhattan or east Brooklyn and Queens on a single fare.

G train riders make twice as many transfers as the average subway rider and three-quarters of all trips on the route involve at least one transfer, according to an MTA analysis of the line. Of the 2,300 riders on an average weekday that make the transfer at Lorimer, nearly half use MetroCards with cash on them, according to the MTA.

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The MTA study estimated that it would lose $770,000 a year in revenue from free transfers, if the agency prevents riders from making multiple trips.

G train riders have long-sought a transfer to the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center transit hub from Fulton Street, but the MTA said it would be unable to tell which riders are taking a second trip on a single fare and which riders are making legitimate transfers. The MTA concluded in its G train study that offering this perk would mean "modifying NYC Transit policy systemwide" that limits free walking transfers to service disruptions. That is how the F train on the Upper East Side got the only free walking transfer in the system, after the line switched to a 63rd Street station from 51st Street.

Squadron said he agrees with that MTA policy but that G train riders need more access to other parts of the system and Manhattan.

"When you add up to the case for the G train, it was good enough for the MTA over these five weeks and I think it should be good enough permanently," Squadron said.

Riders Alliance member David Estrada, 53 of Windsor Terrace, has paid the double fare when he takes the G train from its southern end and transfers to the J line. He said the neighborhood is booming and a destination, making the transfer popular with riders.

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"When I get out of the G and walk down that block to go upstairs and get on the J there are other people side by side with me doing the same thing," Estrada said. "The pattern is there, in the riders."

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