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F train riders, who endured two years of closed platforms at a stretch of elevated stops in southern Brooklyn, are now in for nine months of weekend station shutdowns.
Starting March 20, a signal modernization project along a segment of one of the least reliable lines in the subway system will close all F line stops south of Church Avenue on most weekends through December. That means no Saturday and Sunday summer F train rides to Coney Island.
“Oh no, not this again,” said Makafui Ganu, 26, who was catching a train Thursday at the Ditmas Avenue station. “We just went through all that work.”
The Ditmas Avenue stop was among nine stations along the F’s Culver Line that closed for renovations from 2016 through 2018. The Manhattan-bound platforms were shuttered first, followed by the Coney Island-bound platforms.
‘Nobody Will Like This’
With the MTA moving ahead with the next phase of signal upgrades between Church Avenue in Kensington and West 8th Street in Coney Island, some riders said they wished all the work could have been done at once.
“Nobody will like this, especially after this station was closed a couple of years ago,” said Felipe Gomez, 27, an F train rider at the Ditmas Avenue station. “It will be more complicated on weekends.”
The looming weekend work is part of the MTA’s shift to a “communications-based” train control signal system that will allow trains to run more closely together and ultimately boost capacity along the F.
The transit agency plans to spend $7.1 billion on signal upgrades on sections of six lines as part of its proposed $51.5 billion 2020 - 2024 Capital Program.
The project to replace 70-year-old signals along the Culver Line was included in the MTA’s previous five-year capital plan, along with upgrades along the lines that run beneath Queens Boulevard and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. The Culver Line extends nearly five miles across 12 stations.
“This is an essential project that is at the heart of broader efforts to dramatically improve the subway system,” said Andrei Berman, an MTA spokesperson. “Train lines with [communications-based train control] are more reliable, increase speeds, and tend to experience far fewer delays.”
Faster Rides on Tap
The modern signals on the L and 7 tracks were installed over several years of weekend work. Those two lines now have the highest on-time performance figures in the system.
In January, the L met its on-time mark a system-best 93.5% of the time on weekdays, while the 7 had a 91.5% on-time performance rate. The F, meanwhile, had a 72.5% on-time performance rate in January, trailed only by the B and N/W lines.
“Yeah, this will be a pain, but what can you do?” said Seth Morgan, 39, who was catching a Manhattan-bound F train at Ditmas Avenue. “I would rather they fix the signals than bend over backward to make or anyone else feel better.”
It’s not the only impending major project that will disrupt commutes for F train riders. As THE CITY reported Tuesday, the line’s East River tunnel will close next year for nights-and-weekends repairs to fix damage wrought in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy.
During the signal project, MTA plans to run free Culver Link shuttle buses between Church Avenue and the F’s Stillwell Avenue terminal on weekends.
“I guess I’ll just get used to riding the shuttle buses,” Gomez said.
There will be full service on the F for some holiday weekends along with some weekends in October.
“As long as the updates are clear and forthcoming, then we’ll learn to adjust,” Morgan said.
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