Godzilla, renowned expert on public transit, disasters, big cities, marine life, romance, and other topics, took a few minutes to answer my questions about tonight’s Town Hall meeting in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, about the scheduled closure of the G train from July 26 to September 1, 2014:
Q: Godzilla, as you know, the G train was seriously damaged during Super Storm Sandy, flooding parts of the tunnel from floor to ceiling. How do you think the closure of the G line between Nassau Ave and Court Square (affecting the 3 northernmost stops in Brooklyn and into Queens) for five weeks this summer will affect us?
A: True Boots, I get that there’s a lot of electrical work and other infrastructure repair that needs to happen–especially given that a lot of what’s in these tunnels is more than a hundred years old to begin with. And this is hardly the only train affected: the R line was badly damaged, and work still needs to be done on the A/C line, the F, the 2/3, and the L. What I’m looking for is what the MTA and agencies in the City are doing to make sure people can still get to where they need to go. Remember during some of those snowstorms it took almost 2 hours for the overcrowded G to get people from the Hoyt-Schermerhorn stop to Greenpoint–which is usually a 25-minute ride. I can be patient during unique events, but I’m prone to breathing fire if our public agencies aren’t planning properly for closures like this.
Q: Speaking of which, I noticed you breathing fire and growling audibly during tonight’s Town Hall. What was going on there?
A: I try to be patient and appreciative that State Senator Daniel Squadron and the Riders Alliance made this meeting happen, but it started almost a half hour after the starting time they advertised–which totally reminded me of waiting for the G train during off-peak hours. So I started out a little annoyed. And then when someone asked if the MTA could look into adding more cars to the 4-car G train (all other trains running in the City have 8 cars), and the MTA guy said that ridership doesn’t merit more cars–well, I couldn’t help but give a roar along with the rest of the people in the room. I understand the guy has a job to do, but it’s just not true. The G is already crowded, and the neighborhoods all along the G line are exploding with more housing and a much larger commuting population. Plus I just don’t look graceful when I have to sprint down the platform to catch these super-short trains. They need more cars. Plain and simple.
Q: I didn’t even realize you were a G train rider.
A: G is for Godzilla.
Q: What did you think of the solutions the City and State agencies offered? Do you think it will be enough?
A: Sen. Squadron did a great job leading the conversation and making sure that the agency reps responded completely to all of the concerns brought up by constituents, and he was totally on our side without being a jerk to any of the agency reps. I don’t envy any of those guys facing an audience that included a fire-breathing guy like me. I liked hearing the MTA’s plans to run more G trains between Nassau and Church Ave, as well as more L trains, during rush hours; this will help in addition to the shuttle buses they’ll run between Nassau and Court Square to cover the route of the closure. The B24 bus will also be running, as well as the East River Ferry.
Q: Wait, the East River Ferry dock in Greenpoint totally caved in during one of the snowstorms, and no one has said when it will be back in service. Please explain.
A: So the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) rep (EDC runs the East River Ferry, which explains why your Metro Card is useless toward paying the $4 ferry fare) said that they’re taking a while to fix the dock because they’re still analyzing the reason for the dock collapse. Although many have blamed me for it, I totally blame the snow and freezing temperatures for the breakage. They’ve been running shuttles from Greenpoint to the Williamsburg ferry dock, so everyone here isn’t completely out of luck. But when pressed on when the dock would reopen, the EDC rep made the promise that it will be back “long before the G train closure.” Write that down and let’s see what happens.
Q: What ideas did you hear that you thought were good ones?
A: State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol pitched the idea that there should be ferry service directly between Greenpoint and Manhattan for the duration of the closure. I don’t know whether it’s feasible, but I liked the idea. Also, it was great to see Sen. Martin Dilan pushing the MTA rep on the fact that the audience seemed appalled that the G train should still be limited to only 4 cars. By the end of the hearing, he took up the suggestion of one of the commenters that he come down and see what the G train platform looks like during the morning and evening rush hours. That guy’s alright with me.
Q: Did you think the Town Hall was worthwhile?
A: Completely. If nothing else, it shows that Sen. Squadron, Sen. Dilan, and Assemblyman Lentol will follow up with MTA, NYC DOT, and EDC on behalf of the public to make sure they do what they say they’re going to do. Even though our agencies work hard for us, it’s good to have smart officials acting on our behalf, too. MTA will revisit the idea of adding more cars to the G train, although I don’t have a lot of confidence in them taking action on that. We’re already last on the list (3 to 5 years away, MTA says) to get countdown timers posted in G train stations–in large part because the signals and switches in the tunnels are more than 100 years old. Although I may not like all the answers, being able to learn this stuff is worthwhile, too. Well done on a productive Town Hall.
Q: Did you do anything fun afterward? It was over around 8 pm and it’s warmish out for a change.
A: Nope. Just this interview.