R train riders say they risk being stranded at stations in coming months if the MTA doesn’t implement public transport improvements while the line is facing service cuts.
For two months starting Monday March 28, the R train will be out of service overnight and on the weekends while the line undergoes improvements.
In a rally over the weekend, State Senator Andrew Gounardes, subway riders, members and leaders of the Riders Alliance and advocates with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign rallied in Bay Ridge to ask the MTA to increase access to fast, frequent and reliable buses during that time.
“For thousands in southern Brooklyn, the R train is their only subway option,” Gounardes said, adding that although he was grateful for the planned improvements, “we owe it to the essential workers that keep our 24 hour economy going to provide the best transit service possible.”
According to Gounardes low-income service workers, New Yorkers visiting friends and family and people taking advantage of recreation and nightlife activities will face significant obstacles to travel due to high cost of other transport options.
“We have all seen shuttle buses that don’t come or confusing transit delays. Our nurses, restaurant workers, and home care workers shouldn’t have to take money out of their pay-checks for a for hire vehicle when the shuttle bus doesn’t show up.”
Gounardes, along with those at the rally, is calling on the MTA to implement well-timed connections with the subway; transit signal priority at intersections; and bus service at least every six minutes.
The group said that using a “robust set of tools now” would create a model for what the City and MTA could do in the future to keep riders moving during service changes for major subway upgrades. With MTA ridership hovering at 60% of pre-pandemic numbers, the system could not afford to lose riders to other modes of transportation, the group added.
Councilmember Justin Brannan added the subway improvements had been fought for, “and we’re happy to see that money is being invested in this system, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the riders — especially our essential workers who work overnight.”
“When we’ve had these repairs done before, the whole system falls apart in southwest Brooklyn. From Bay Ridge to Sunset Park, we see people waiting on corners for 20 and 30 minutes for shuttle buses to replace the R trains,” he said, adding, “It’s chaotic, and it’s not necessary.”
“We planned for these improvements: we can plan for these contingency plans to make sure that it doesn’t become a burden on our riders. These infrastructure improvements cannot be done on the backs of essential workers.”