MTA officials said they would meet with Councilman David G. Greenfield to discuss the possibility of restoring F express service to Brooklyn, following some tough questioning by Greenfield at a transportation hearing Wednesday afternoon.
“The MTA does a good job with difficult conditions, and I’m certainly grateful,” Greenfield said during a preliminary budget hearing held by the City Council’s transportation committee. But, he added, he is losing patience with the MTA’s failure to provide answers on the F express. “I feel like a broken record,” he said, noting that he’d been asking about this issue since 2011 without getting any answers.
Prior to the afternoon hearing, Greenfield held a press conference with local leaders and community advocates on the steps of City Hall, telling assembled reporters that action on this issue is long overdue. “The infrastructure already exists,” Greenfield said. “The tracks are there.” He noted that many of his constituents in Brooklyn live in a transit desert where options for getting to and from Manhattan are few and far between. He pointed out that in addition to the loss of F express service, the cancellation of B23 bus service was also “a very significant loss for us.” For many of his constituents, Greenfield said, the restoration of F express service has become a critical necessity.
Also in attendance at the press conference and offering support for the restoration of F express service were Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives; Rebecca Bailin, campaign manager at Riders Alliance; Cate Contino Cowit, campaign coordinator for NYPIRG’s Straphangers Alliance; Barry Spitzer, district manager for Brooklyn’s Community Board 12; Salvatore Lentini, transportation co-chair of Brooklyn’s Community Board 14; Kalman Yeger, also of Community Board 14; and Ozzie Heymann, representing Community Board 15.
Councilman Greenfield also pointed out that the MTA has still not produced a study on the feasibility of restoring F express service, despite the fact that the agency has promised several times over the last year that the release of the study was imminent. As recently as last month, Greenfield sent an open letter to MTA Chair Thomas Prendergast asking about the status of the study. The letter was signed by 14 city and state lawmakers.
At the transportation hearing, Greenfield asked the MTA officials when they expected the study to be published. “I check my email every day” looking for the study, he said. The officials acknowledged that the study had been repeatedly promised, and said that it has in fact been completed. It has not yet been shared with the Council, officials said, because it is still awaiting review by the new president of New York City Transit, Veronique Hakim. They could not provide a definitive date by which the study would be released, but committed to making every effort to release the study as soon as possible. Not satisfied with that answer, Greenfield continued to press, asking for a meeting with Hakim. “In all fairness, we were promised the study a couple years ago,” Greenfield said. “The study has not been shared with us. It’s not really fair to keep coming here year after year” without delivering on the promise, he added.
“I’m not going to give up on this issue,” Greenfield said after the hearing. “This problem has been around for thirty years. We can’t keep kicking the can. My constituents deserve better, and I will continue to fight for the restoration of F express service.”