Like any relationship fraught with “issues,” riders of the G train know acute highs (like catching the train just as it arrives at the dank Broadway station at 3am) and despairing lows (like, ugh, having to ride the shuttle bus from Greenpoint to Court Square half the summer). Good or bad, the G knows how to keep things interesting!
The MTA’s full review of the G line, released yesterday and embedded below, made us see our relationship with the G in a whole new light, and like a good couples counselor it finally helped us get some questions answered. Starting with…
1. Is it just me or is the G train always late?
It’s just you, actually. The MTA tracks On-Time Performance (i.e. how many trains arrive at their terminals within five minutes of scheduled arrival) and you’d never guess it, but the G’s OTP is 90%. According to the MTA, that’s better than the average line in the system.
2. Yeah, right! I swear I spend more time on the G platform than on any other.
You’re probably still right. The G is simply not scheduled to run as often as other lines. So, for example, during the pm rush hour, G trains are scheduled at 10- and even 12-minute intervals. If one of these trains is just 2 minutes late, you’re waiting nearly a quarter of an hour during prime commuting time.
In April of this year, the G’s Wait Assessment (the MTA’s measure of riders’ actual wait length and experience) clocked in at 83.2% — still better than the system-wide average of 79%. Get ready for this: the G actually has the best WA out of all lines in the system, excluding shuttle lines.
3. Something seems to be missing from this equation. Are my worst G waits really better than my worst N or R waits?
Well, maybe. But explaining this one’s pretty simple: compared to other lines, the entire length of the G track is relatively short. Terminal to terminal, the entire line is only 11.4 miles – and for 7.1 of them, the G doesn’t share a track with any other line. So there are fewer opportunities for things to go seriously wrong and get seriously delayed.
4. Why is the scheduled time between G trains so much longer than on other lines?
That’s due to a little something called the F. “Accommodating the higher-ridership F on the shared tracks causes uneven scheduled G service during rush hours,” according to the review. The F takes precedence (with 14 trains per hour during peak commuting times) because, unlike the G, it runs to a little place called Manhattan, and that means scheduling around even more lines, like the E and the M.
5. But G riders have to make so many transfers and already suffer from long-commute syndrome. Giving F riders precedence feels like kicking a G commuter while she’s down.
Once again, you’re not wrong. Excluding the shuttle line, G riders make twice as many transfers compared to the system average – that’s at least one per trip compared to .45 system-wide. Unfortunately, there’s not much to do about that. But, hey, that’s the price you pay for living in (not-for-long) peaceful Greenpoint.
6) G, why you gotta be so short?
The G used to run to Forest Hills-71 Ave on weekdays, but in 2001 its weekday terminus was changed to Court Street to accommodate new V (now M) train service between Queens and Manhattan. To ease the pain of the change and increase the number of rush-hour G trains per hour, the MTA started running four-car trains every 6.5-minutes instead of six-car trains every 10 minutes.
Adding more cars to the G is simply outside the MTA’s budget, so the length and shape of the G will stay as it is, probably during our lifetimes. But, as we all know, we can’t go trying to change our long-term partners. They are who they are.
7) Why no free walking transfer between the Broadway G station and the Lorimer J?
According to the MTA review, 2,300 people per weekday use this transfer, and it ain’t free. That’s because if it were, the MTA would lose an estimated $770,000 a year — which is too much of a punch in the money gut.
8) Will we at least be given screens that tell us when the next train’s gonna arrive?
Yep, it’s just going to take a little while. A communications upgrade for “B Division” lines (lettered lines as opposed to numbered lines and the L) including 12 targeted G train stations is scheduled for full completion by 2016. So, in three years, you’ll know when the next G train is set to arrive – but hopefully you’ll already be on one by then.
9) Why, oh why are most of the G train doors closed at the Court Square terminal until just before the train departs?
This is to allow crews to change ends at terminal stations, but we all know how annoying it is when people are forced to crowd into a couple of cars. Good news! The MTA plans to do away with the seemingly useless procedure in the near future.
10) Okay, okay, I guess the G really isn’t that bad. And, it’s so old! Who can really blame it? Wait, how old is it, anyway?
Most of the G’s infrastructure is more than 80 years old, which means we should probably take a moment to appreciate it for still being with us today. Long-term relationships are tough, but in that hour of need, it’s better than no train at all.