By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The G train, the L train, and the Sea Beach portion of the N train are all back. But what of the R train?
The R train, which is the “home train” for residents of Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, is running in two sections, reminiscent of most other lines during the first few days after Hurricane Sandy. One part runs from Queens to 34th Street, while the other runs from 95th Street in Bay Ridge to Jay Street-MetroTech.
At issue is the Montague Street Tunnel, which, unlike the other subway tunnels under the East River, is still out of commission.
“The tunnel’s tracks, equipment and infrastructure were severely flooded,” said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for MTA New York City Transit. “It’s a very deep tube, way down under the water table. If you look at the two stations on either side, Court Street and Whitehall Street, they’re very deep stations, and both are reached by elevators [or escalators].”
The Eagle spoke to representatives of communities along the line, with mixed reactions.
A spokesperson for Councilman Steve Levin, who represents Brooklyn Heights and Downtown, hadn’t heard many complaints, “although there probably will be more if service remains out much longer. People realize the amount of damage that was done during Sandy.
“People who live Downtown would probably just take one of the many other subway lines, at stations like Jay Street. The complaints are more likely to come from people who live farther out on the R line.”
However, one Heights resident, Irene Janner, the office manager for the Brooklyn Heights Association, said the temporary outage of through R service to Manhattan was very inconvenient for people trying to get to the east side of Manhattan because the Lexington Avenue line is often too crowded to board on Court Street or at Fulton Street, the first stop in Manhattan.
“I used to take the R train to 14th Street, then transfer to Lexington Avenue line [to get to the Manhattan’s east side],” she said.
Jeremy Laufer, district manager for Community Board 7, said the board had heard many complaints about the situation. While it’s true that Manhattan-bound riders can transfer to other lines at Atlantic Avenue or Jay Street- MetroTech, he said, the current situation means that some riders have to get off the subway farther from their destinations.
The fact that the upper portion of the R now terminates at 34th Street and the N train departs from the Broadway trunk line means that the City Hall, Cortlandt Street, Rector Street and Whitehall Street statinos, normally served by the R alone, are now closed. The nearest stations on other lines are several blocks away.
Josephine Beckman, district manager of Community Board 10, had not heard of any complaints about the lack of through service on the R train from her constituents.
“I love to take the R train to Manhattan, I always take it, and I’m disappointed,” said Chuck Otey, an attorney and Brooklyn Daily Eagle columnist who lives in Bay Ridge.