The Franklin Avenue Shuttle is a New York City Subway shuttle train service that operates in Brooklyn. It uses the BMT Franklin Avenue Line exclusively, with the north terminus being Fulton Street, with a transfer available to the IND line of the same name, and the south terminus being Prospect Park, with a transfer available to the BMT Brighton Line. The shuttle runs One Person Train Operation with the motorman also being the conductor. The motorman will go to the opposite end to make another run at each terminal.
The S has four stations as of 1999. Consumers Park was closed in 1928 and replaced by the current Botanic Garden station five blocks to the north. There is a visible clearing at the former station location. Dean Street was closed in 1995 due to low paid fare entrance and fare beating.
The shuttle runs two 2-car train sets of R68 subway cars. Trains usually pass each other at Botanic Garden, the only 2-track station on the Franklin Avenue Line, leaving a passing loop while en route to Park Place.
The current service is co-extensive with the BMT Franklin Avenue Line. It parallels Franklin Avenue, hence the shuttle's name (and the name of the line). It was originally a part of the mainline of the BMT Brighton Beach Line and opened as part of that steam railroad line in 1878.
On November 1, 1918, a five-car wooden elevated train left the tracks and crashed into one of the new tunnel walls, killing at least 93. This accident, called the Malbone Street Wreck, was among the worst rapid transit disasters ever.
The mainline was shifted in 1920, with subway trains from Manhattan and elevated trains from Franklin Avenue sharing operations to Coney Island. After the city gained ownership of the line in 1940, Brighton-Franklin services gradually declined. A major blow to through service viability occurred in 1954 when the D train of the IND Division was extended to Coney Island via the Culver Line, deprived the Franklin of a major source of transfer traffic, consisting of passengers from Harlem and the Bronx, who now had a more direct route to Coney Island.
Brighton-Franklin express service ended by 1959, and the Franklin Avenue Line became a full-time shuttle in 1963. On November 1, 1965, when R27s started going into service, this service was named SS, and in 1985, when the practice of using double letters was eliminated, this service became the S.
On December 1, 1974, a southbound shuttle train of R32s was approaching the tunnel portal en route from Franklin Avenue when it derailed on the crossover and smashed the same place where BRT car 100 had hit in the Malbone Street Wreck. This derailment resulted in some injuries, but there were no fatalities, because time signals limit the speed of trains coming down the hill from Crown Heights.
Deterioration and renovationEdit
In 1981, the MTA proposed abandoning the service under the failed Program for Action. At the time, only 10,000 passengers used the shuttle per day, and in addition, the Franklin Avenue Line was severely deteriorated. It was proposed that bus service along nearby Franklin Avenue could substitute for the line. During the winter, the line would often be closed because there was fear that trains would derail. Stations were in horrible condition; portions of the wooden platforms were sealed off because they had burned or collapsed. In January 1982, the line needed to close for emergency repair work because a retaining wall along the line was in danger of collapse.
In the 1990s, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle was known as the "ghost train". It was shrunk in size to only two cars, and the Dean Street station, which had 50 paying riders per day, was closed in 1995. The entire line was under consideration for abandonment, and community leaders were opposed to the move. They showed up to town hall meetings, news conferences and they sat down with transit officials. They also formed the committee to save the Franklin Avenue Shuttle. The coalition included the Straphangers Campaign, a local church, local community boards and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. They argued that subway station repair work occurred elsewhere, when no attention was paid to the Franklin Avenue Shuttle.
In the end they convinced the New York State Assembly to force the MTA to rebuild rather than abandon the line, and as a result most of the supporting infrastructure and stations were completely rehabilitated for eighteen months, between July 1998 and October 1999 at a cost of $74 million. While the closure of the line started in July 1998, work began in September 1997. During the renovation, a temporary shuttle bus and the B48 bus replaced train service.
The line reopened on October 18, 1999, three months ahead of schedule. The new line included new tracks and bridges, three rebuilt stations, elevators, security cameras, and new artwork. The transfer to the IND Fulton Street line had required an out-of-system paper transfer, but an enclosed transfer was built with two elevators and an escalators. Prior to this enclosed transfer, a portion of the old Fulton Street Elevated line was left standing so passengers could use a staircase to transfer to the Fulton Street subway; the transfer at Fulton Street had been made (in both directions) by retrieving a small cardboard transfer ticket from the token booth or a ticket machine, exiting to the street, and entering the other rail line and depositing the ticket in a box and walking onto the platform. The Dean Street station, closed in 1995, was demolished. A new passageway was created to provide transfers to the IRT Eastern Parkway Line at Botanic Garden. MetroCard vending machines were also installed in the stations, and new speakers were installed to make announcements more audible. Once the line was reopened there were still calls to restore the Dean Street station, and there were complaints that the Botanic Garden and Prospect Park stops were not made ADA accessible; Prospect Park was made accessible in a later project.