Subway riders, activists and elected officials called on the MTA Wednesday to continue to offer riders a free transfer between the Broadway G train and the Lorimer stop of the J and M trains.
The MTA began offering the transfer five weeks ago when construction on the train’s tunnel closed the Greenpoint Avenue stop in Brooklyn, and the 21st Street and Court Square stops in Queens.
“Let’s take a good thing and make it last longer,” State Senator Daniel Squadron said. “Let’s make this free transfer permanent so those riders who need it … especially those who don’t have unlimited Metrocards, have the ability to get to more parts of the city and more parts of the system.”
A 2013 review by the MTA found about 2,300 people made the transfer between the G and J and M trains daily, even though they have to pay the additional fare for the unmarked transfer for trains that stop on the same block, according to John Raskin, executive director of Rider’s Alliance. Half of those riders, Raskin said, used pay-per-ride Metrocards.
“That’s the issue at heat here, helping people who are transferring from the G to the J and M or vice versa not pay twice for one Subway trip,” Raskin said.
Local and state officials said making the transfer permanent was an issue of fairness, and better access for riders. But for subway rider and Rider’s Alliance member David Estrada, calling the transfer “free” is misleading.
“I don’t want a free transfer, I don’t want anything I wouldn’t get otherwise,” Estrada, 53, said. “Really, MTA, you’re going to claim that’s losing money? You don’t need to double dip.”
Estrada, who has lived in Brooklyn for the past 25 years, said being unemployed means he pays per ride instead of buying a monthly Metrocard.
“So it doesn’t seem fair if I’m walking just a few steps down the road to get on the train, and I’m paying a full fair over again,” Estrada said. “We urge the MTA to give the G riders a little respect and promote some business. It will only be good; it’s the Brooklyn thing to do.”
“I don’t use the transfer, but I think it’s great and sets a precedent,” said Adrianna Tippit-Martelli, a 29-year-old freelance sign language interpreter who lives in Bed-Stuy.
City Council Member Stephen Levin said the changes don’t require any additional money being spent, just the “stroke of a pen.”
“Historically, when the MTA taketh, they also giveth,” said Nick Rizzo, a Greenpoint resident who is running for Democratic District Leader, referring to keeping the Church Avenue extension. “It’s a good idea and needs to continue, development is Brooklyn is not going to stop.
“I think the MTA will see the wisdom and keep it,” Rizzo continued. “They’ve done a really good job with this closure, there was a lotof concern about the shuttle buses … people have been surprisingly cool with it.”
MTA spokeswoman Amanda Kwan said later Wednesday the agency has no plans to make the free transfer permanent, and that the agency’s policy is to provide an alternate service when normal service are interrupted.