No New Yorker was happy when the subway fare rose to $2 in May. But for commuters in central Brooklyn, the hike–compounded by a decades-old situation there–has nearly doubled the cost of getting around the borough and into Queens.
For years, commuters have had to pay twice when they transfer from the No. 3 train at Junius Street in East New York to the L train at Livonia Avenue, just down the block. The elevated walkway between the stations burned down, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has yet to rebuild it.
So riders switch trains by exiting one station, crossing an outdoor pedestrian bridge–and paying a second fare.
Not only is the trip costly, but the poorly lit and rarely patrolled walkway has been a regular site for rapes and robberies in the past. While crime has dropped in recent years, the bridge’s reputation still turns people away.
“Most people avoid the transfer point because of the fact that it’s so dangerous,” says Randy Hudson of the United Community Centers, a local nonprofit community group that has been pushing the MTA to create a free and safe enclosed transfer point for the last two years. To avoid transferring at that station, he says, commuters instead make the free transfer farther down the line at Broadway Junction, leading to overcrowding.
While the fare hike has given the group’s campaign a boost–they have collected 2,500 signatures over the last several months–the MTA insists it is still not worth the millions it would cost to build an elevated walkway. The agency estimates that only 3,000 people would make the transfer there each day. To make it worth their while, agency officials say ridership would have to reach close to 5,000, as it has at Bleecker Street in the Village, where the MTA plans to invest $25 million to build a transfer point between the uptown 6 and the F and V trains.
East New York residents and elected officials insist more riders will use the stations once improvements are made. “It’s just a question of neglect and ignoring our area,” says City Councilmember Charles Barron, who plans to schedule public hearings on the matter.
In the meantime, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz isn’t taking any chances on the MTA. In January, he asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund the transfer improvements through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. His office still hasn’t heard back.
“The whole area’s out of touch with the day,” says Hudson. “The area looks like it’s still back in the 1950s