David Stone
F Train crowding, this week, on Roosevelt Island. Why not reroute a few M Trains?
F Train crowding, this week, on Roosevelt Island. Why not reroute a few M Trains?
© Roosevelt Island Daily

Last year, we posted our opposition to Mayor Bill de Blasio's BQX - Brooklyn Queens Connector - surface rail project. It's an expensive, real estate developer driven boondoggle that's time should never come, and now, according to a report in the New York Times, it may not. Indications are it's become the red-headed stepchild of City transportation projects. That's good news in a season turned dreary by Governor Andrew Cuomo's badly flawed congestion pricing plan for Manhattan.

It's Not Just Repairs, It's Volume

With subway generated transportation crises creating fresh news stories nearly every week, it seemed weird to have the mayor champion a idea that would do little to relieve overcrowding, especially in our view for Roosevelt Island.

Anticipating the increase in subway traffic through Roosevelt Island with the opening of the Second Avenue Line - the Upper East Side's gain is our loss - we believed better options should be considered for the limited funds available.

The Regional Plan Association, for example, drew up a Triborough Line plan that depends on existing rail systems, now used sparingly for freight, to less expensively and quickly develop above ground routes that reroute passengers away from Manhattan. Enough of it could migrate off the F Line to give us some relief.

The subway system, mostly envisioned a century ago, is oriented around getting people into and out of Manhattan.

That's how we used to work, but it isn't now. Labor is more dispersed around the boroughs. But riders are routinely forced to pass through Manhattan, no matter where they work. Only one of all the subway lines - the G - does not enter Manhattan at any point.

Another idea we floated several times is for diverting a couple of M Trains per hour through Roosevelt Island during rush periods instead of using the 53rd Street Tunnel. Casual observation shows that line to be underutilized. Why not use some capacity to help 21st Street/Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island and 63rd Street?

In the meantime, overcrowding on the increasingly popular F Line makes rush hour commuting difficult to nearly impossible. It seems odd with easy to moderately difficult choices could bring relief, in the case for diverting M traffic, virtually overnight.

Now that the BQX is tipping quietly off the table, maybe there's some room for practical thinking.