The G Brooklyn–Queens Crosstown Local is a 11.4-mile-long (18.3 km) rapid transit service in the New York City Subway's B Division. Its route emblem, or "bullet", is colored lime green since it uses the IND Crosstown Line. It is the only non-shuttle service in the system that does not serve Manhattan.
The G operates at all times between Court Square in Long Island City, Queens and 18th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn via the IND Crosstown and Culver lines. In Queens, it only serves two stations – Court Square and 21st Street, both in Long Island City – but previously served all stations to and from 71st Avenue in Forest Hills on the IND Queens Boulevard Line.
On August 19, 1933, G service officially began, running between Jackson Heights– Roosevelt Avenue and Nassau Avenue.
On April 24, 1937, G service was extended to and from Forest Hills–71st Avenue, serving as the Queens Boulevard local while the E ran express west of 71st Avenue.
The entire IND Crosstown Line was completed on July 1, 1937, including the connection to the IND Culver Line. G service ran at all times between Forest Hills–71st Avenue and Church Avenue.
On December 16, 2001, the 63rd Street Connector opened and Court Square became the northern terminal for the G train during weekdays. Service along the IND Queens Boulevard Line was replaced by the new V train. G service was extended to Forest Hills–71st Avenue all other times. The G was to be cut back there at all times to make room for the new V train when the connection opened, but due to rider opposition, it was cut back only on weekdays, and extended to Forest Hills–71st Avenue all other times (the reverse of the previous pattern).
Due to the MTA financial crisis, the G was to be cut back from Forest Hills–71st Avenue to Court Square at all times beginning June 26, 2010. However, due to planned track repairs during the times the G normally ran on the IND Queens Boulevard Line, it began terminating at Court Square on April 19.
Conversely, on June 28, 2010, the G was extended two stations south to and from 18th Avenue; this was done precisely for the purpose of eliminating all southbound delays on the F in Brooklyn. It had to wait at Fort Hamilton Parkway or inside the tunnel shortly before Church Avenue for at least 5 minutes to allow the G directly ahead to be fumigated or stalled in the station until another G comes out of the relay to head back to Queens on the northbound local track. Whereas, a southbound G switching over to the center track just south of Ditmars Avenue may be delayed by another one waiting to depart from 18th Avenue and switch to the northbound local track just north of that station to head back to Queens. This completely eliminated all Coney Island-bound F train delays.
Flood waters from Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to the Greenpoint Tubes under the Newtown Creek. Although the G was back in service days after the hurricane, the tube needed permanent repairs. To allow for these repairs, G service ran only between Nassau Avenue and 18th Avenue for twelve weekends between July and December 2013. This schedule was also in effect daily between July 25 and September 2, 2014.
The G suffers from a wide range of issues that has resulted in complaints by people living along the route. Historically, it has only connected Brooklyn and Queens, resulting in many people thinking of the G as the subway system's "outcast" and the "unwanted drunk uncle everyone has." One reporter wrote of the G, "[Riders] need it because it goes where no other train does, but they hate that they need it."
Since December 2001, the G's northern terminus has been cut back from Forest Hills to Court Square during the weekdays, and since June 2010, this service pattern has applied 24/7. This service pattern not only puts more ridership pressure on the E—already one of the system's busiest before 2001—but also required G trains' lengths to be shortened by about one-third, from 450 feet (140 m) to 300 feet (91 m). In addition, between 2001 and 2010, weekend service along the G to Forest Hills had been intermittent, with frequent service changes due to "track work".
63rd Street Connector service reductionsEdit
When the connector to the IND 63rd Street Line from the IND Queens Boulevard Line was completed in December 2001, it not only introduced the new V service, but also allowed up to eleven additional trains to and from Manhattan on the Queens Boulevard Line during peak hours. However, to make room for the V train on Queens Boulevard, the G had to terminate at Court Square on weekdays. The reroute of the G was part of the original plans of the 63rd Street tunnel and connector, going back to the late 1960s. The service plan was designed to redistribute Queens-bound passenger loads on the crowded IND Queens Boulevard Line (under 53rd Street in Manhattan) and better service and transfer opportunities as the V train allowed direct access to 53rd Street and the IND Sixth Avenue Line for Queens Boulevard Local customers. The New York Times prematurely described the service plan as "complex and heavily criticized" because it put more crowding on the E train.
The MTA also agreed to extend the G to Forest Hills–71st Avenue during nights and weekends (when the V was not running), and run more trains on that route. However, due to construction on the Queens Boulevard Line, the G train frequently terminated at Court Square even at times when the published timetable said it ran to 71st Avenue. Some riders were suspicious that the service disruptions were "simply a de facto way to implement the original plan of halving G train service." The original plans called for the G to terminate at Court Square at all times; that plan was shelved in 2001 in the face of community opposition, but the MTA decided to implement it in 2010. An MTA spokesman said, "It's not personal…. If you want to keep the system up to date, you need to make sure the track, signal and switching are all in good repair."
Community groups such as Save the G! and the Riders Alliance have been frequent activists for improvements of G service. Save the G! regularly lobbied the MTA for more G train service since the original cutbacks when the V was introduced in 2001. They made the restoration of service to the Queens Boulevard Line at all times an issue in the 2002 New York gubernatorial race, but the transit authority said, "Unfortunately, putting the G back to full service is just not an option, given our track capacity—and that's not likely to change."
Changes to train lengthEdit
To increase service and reduce waiting time due to the 63rd Street Connector cutbacks, the G would need more trains, but there were not enough cars available in the system. The solution was to reduce the length of trains in order to increase service frequency. Historically, the G had run 8 60-foot (18 m) car trains or 6 75-foot (23 m) car trains; both were shorter than the typical 600-foot (180 m) length of B Division trains because ridership was deemed too low to justify running full-length G trains in frequent intervals. Under the 2001 plan, trains were shortened from six 75-foot (23 m) cars to four, sticking all the leftover cars together to make the extra trains for the G, and the additional trains needed for V service. Thus, G service now operates 300-foot (91 m) trains, half the length of normal B Division standards. It also operates One Person Train Operation (OPTO) service during nights and weekends.
This, however, meant there would be more riders packed into smaller trains, and led some passengers to miss trains because they were standing at the wrong part of the platform. In the past, there have been signs indicating where the train stops at some stations, in addition to the "4" and "6" markers next to the tracks used by train operators as stop points. Still, the overall lack of visual identifiers of train stop points on the platforms, the differing stop points during different times of day, and the location of staircases, transfer passageways and platform benches have been cited as a cause of passengers missing trains or being bunched into single cars. As a result, in early June 2010, all edge station platforms of the G were painted with the lime green color along with the installment of sixteen "step aside" signs, giving passengers clear indication of where to board the G.
Most stations along the IND Crosstown Line were built with multiple exits to the street. Over the years, many lower-use exits were closed, as they were in other parts of the subway, because the city was concerned that they were a magnet for criminals; this resulted in G trains along the Crosstown Line needing to stop at the locations closest to the exits. However, in July 2005, in response to community pressure, the MTA agreed to re-open the South Portland Avenue exit of the Fulton Street station. The New York Times described it as a "minor victory" for "a maligned line." In 2019, the Court Square station will get several new stairways to accommodate increased ridership from L train riders during the reconstruction of the BMT Canarsie Line tunnel under the East River, which is scheduled to start in April 2019.
State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malave Dilan requested a "Review of the G Line" since the route had been maligned by riders because of its unreliability. The review, conducted in early 2008, recommended a few service implements for the G. On June 30, 2008, a budget surplus in the MTA caused these improvements to be implemented. These improvements included an increase in the number of trains per hour, from six trains per hour to ten trains per hour all day and evening long during the workweek; uniform stopping locations for trains, whereas previously, trains stopped at different places along the platform at different times of the day; public service announcement and countdown clocks systems on platforms along the IND Crosstown Line (as with the rest of the system); relocated benches; and new CCTV systems installed for OPTO. Such improvements eliminated the infamous "G train sprint," wherein riders ran for G trains that stopped at the other end of the platforms. The G is expected to get full length trains to accommodate displaced L train riders in 2019. This is made possible because the delivery of new R179 subway cars consists to other routes makes it possible for older fleet from these other routes to be passed onto the G.
Since 2008, ridership on the G has risen 27%, with approximately 250,000 riders per weekday in 2015. It is the route with the fastest growing ridership base in the entire system. These improvements will also have the side benefit of being able to accommodate the growing ridership base in gentrified neighborhoods along the G, like Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Long Island City. This is due in part because the G's weekday frequencies have become much more dependable as a result of its 2008 review. However, weekend service was still lacking, according to some riders, as the G still runs much less frequently like almost all other lines in the system to accommodate necessary track and signal maintenance by workers during that timeframe, including at night.