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Transfer for G, J and M Train Riders Should be Free, Advocates Say

By Serena Dai | August 27, 2014 1:42pm
 Local officials and transit advocacy group Riders Alliance urged the MTA to make the free G to J/M train transfer permanent on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.
Local officials and transit advocacy group Riders Alliance urged the MTA to make the free G to J/M train transfer permanent on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

WILLIAMSBURG — The end of the G train shutdown also means the end of a free transfer between the Broadway G and the Lorimer Street J and M train stops — but local officials and train riders are calling on the MTA to make the free transfer permanent.

With Brooklyn's population booming and limited access to public transit, G train riders deserve to transfer above ground for free, said local elected officials and transit advocacy group Riders Alliance.

A 2013 MTA review of the G train found that 2,300 riders transfer between the two trains on weekdays, with just less than half of them using pay-per-ride tickets.

"It's not the ghost train anymore," said rider David Estrada. "Give G train riders a little respect."

Making the transfer between the below-ground G to the above-ground J/M free has long been a transit issue in the neighborhood.

Greenpoint resident Teresa Toro used to serve as Community Board 1's transportation chair and worked with a transit group called Save the G. Many people have wanted the free transfer since at least 2001, she said.

The free transfer this summer during the G train shutdown has been "a huge relief," said Toro, who uses a pay-per-ride card and transfers from the G to the J. She's glad to see the topic brought up again with the Riders Alliance and local officials.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," said Toro, who's also a member of Riders Alliance.

The MTA told DNAinfo New York that this summer was the first time it offered the transfer for free.

A host of local elected officials came out to urge the MTA to make the free transfer permanent, including State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, Councilman Stephen Levin, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Councilman Antonio Reynoso.

They argued that low-income riders are more likely to use pay-per-ride cards, meaning that a more vulnerable population is being impacted by the transfer not being free.

The MTA said in a statement that it only offers free walking transfers between subway lines when "existing subway connectivity was disrupted, as it was during the G shutdown."

Currently, the only free out-of-system transfer is between the F at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue and the 4, 5 and 6 at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue.

"Providing other walking transfers would cost millions of dollars in revenue, which the MTA can't afford," an MTA spokeswoman said.

According to an MTA study, the city would lose $770,000 in revenue each year if the pay-per-rides became free transfers between the Lorimer Street J,M stop and Broadway G station.

But benefit to riders outweighs the cost of offering it, Levin said.

"G train riders are underserved," he said. "They're getting ripped off as it is right now."

The G train has long been "the stepchild of the MTA" due to bad service, Lentol said. Making the transfer permanent is an opportunity to help, officials said.

"Lets take a good thing and make it last longer," Squadron said.