Finally, a Passing Grade for the F Train

Daniel L. Squadron

November 15, 2010


Last year, New York City Transit released a report that admitted what many riders already knew: The F train, the ugly duckling of the subway system, was a mess.

Slow as a snail, prone to delays, and overburdened by a ridership that grew by double digits in the last decade, the much-maligned F was in dire need of a spruce-up, transit officials concluded.

A year and a month later, the agency is out with a progress report. The official message: Things are getting better. More F trains are running on time and more regularly. The entire fleet now consists of snazzy new high-tech cars, complete with digital widgets and a brighter, cleaner interior. And the trains, which used to break down every 125,000 miles or so, now last about four times as long.

According to the report, some of the improvements can be attributed, oddly enough, to service cuts. The elimination of the V train appears to have enabled F trains to run more smoothly through the Second Avenue stop on the Lower East Side, where the V used to terminate, the report said. And the rerouting of the M train has resulted in fewer passenger transfers at the station at Delancey and Essex Streets, reducing delays that might otherwise cascade throughout the F’s route.

Still, transit officials may have stepped around some of the recommendations they laid out last year. There is no mention of a proposed review of the F train’s timetable, which had not been revised since 2001. A proposed task force of managers to review the F line has not met recently because, the report said, “there has been no need” since service began to improve.

“People appreciate the new cars; it makes a difference. But there is still frustration with service inconsistency,” said State Senator Daniel L. Squadron of Brooklyn, whose office requested the initial report after fielding a series of complaints about the train from upset constituents.

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