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F Train Express Foes Launch Petitions as Politicians Demand MTA Response

 The F train in NYC on August 1, 2013.
The F train in NYC on August 1, 2013.
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DNA/Stephanie Keith

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn opponents of the F train express proposal are calling out the MTA for refusing to discuss community concerns about the plan, which would reduce service at local stations and slow commutes for riders in neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Park Slope.

Elected officials and local residents launched a new petition Wednesday urging the MTA to improve F train service for all commuters in Brooklyn rather than "compromise riders on local stops and pit communities against one another."

"The total lack of response is completely unacceptable," the statement reads. 

In May, the MTA announced the completion of a feasibility study on implementing F express service in Brooklyn. Under the plan, there would be express service between Church Avenue and Jay St-MetroTech during morning and evening rush hour.

The plan, which would begin in the fall of 2017, would halve the number of F trains that would stop at local stations and increase travel times for thousands of commuters at Fort Hamilton Parkway, 15 St-Prospect Park, 4 Ave-9 St, Smith-9 St, Carroll St, and Bergen St stations.

Carroll Gardens resident Erin Lippincott and her husband, Brian Stuss, launched a group, "Don't Cut Local F!" to protest the plan and urge the MTA to schedule a public hearing with the affected neighborhoods. 

She said the plan seemed to come out of nowhere when it was announced in May. 

"How does this happen in the darkness and affect so many thousands of people?" she asked. "We just feel we're getting railroaded."

Express service on the F line would seemingly create winners and losers among Brooklyn residents, elected officials have said. The so-called winners would include neighborhoods such as Kensington and Borough Park while commuters in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Park Slope face the prospect of longer rush-hour commutes.

Lippinscott said she is not opposed to the addition of F express service in Brooklyn, but the current scenario adversely affected some Brooklyn residents while benefiting others.

"The platforms at Bergen and Carroll are already packed," she said.

Eight elected officials, including council members Brad Lander, Stephen Levin and Carlos Menchaca, state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon signed off on the new petition "demanding a plan to improve the F line in Brooklyn."

"Don't Cut Local F!" launched a week earlier and has garnered more than 1,300 signatures. Lippinscott said the group will join forces with the local elected officials' petition to create a unified voice against cutting peak-hour service.

According to the study, morning express peak-hour commuters would save an average of 3.4 minutes and local riders would wait 1.3 minutes longer. "However, more riders would experience longer travel times as ridership is heavier between Church Av and Jay St-MetroTech," the state agency said. 

Though the MTA admitted that the service would lengthen commutes for local riders, there would be a "net improvement in service" since express riders would see a reduction in travel time. 

"The MTA has made no final decision on implementing F Express service. NYCT made a preliminary recommendation and said it will meet with impacted stakeholders before the MTA Board makes a final determination," spokeswoman Amanda Kwan said in a statement Thursday afternoon. 

"We are still in the early stages of an extensive deliberative process, which includes considering all affected communities and the impact of such a service change on other lines throughout the system."