F Train commuters longing for a faster, less crowded way to and from Manhattan may experience a little bit of relief... if they're lucky enough to live near the Church Avenue or 7th Avenue stops. (Those not lucky enough to live along those stops will probably feel nothing of the sort.) The F Express returns today, skipping all local stops between Church Avenue and Jay Street-MetroTech—except for Seventh Avenue—during morning and afternoon rush hour commutes.
The MTA says the goal is to cut down on travel time for peak-hour commuters who live in parts of Southern Brooklyn. As the MTA notes in its announcement, “The 26 F stations from Coney Island-Stillwell Av to Broadway-Lafayette create the longest stretch of local-only service in the entire system. This makes the round-trip work commute via subway between Southern Brooklyn and the Central Business District in Manhattan one of the most time-consuming in all of New York City.” The MTA predicts some commuters can expect to save six or seven minutes per commute.
Starting today, two express F trains will be added to the mix between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. weekday mornings (towards Manhattan), with another two Coney Island-bound express trains whisking away geographically #blessed commuters between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Those seeking regular local service during these times can still wave at the Express train as it blazes by and continue waiting for a local train to eventually wander into bypassed stations. Or try their luck on the G train?
Peak-direction F express service previously existed during the 1970s and 1980s, but it was done away with in 1987 because of track work. It finally returned during the summer of 2016. At that time, Council Member David Greenfield declared the development “a huge victory for Brooklyn’s commuters, who for years have had to endure lengthy commutes and overcrowded trains.”
Not all F train riders or local politicians share that view. In July, Council Member Brad Lander began a petition against the express trains, which are often spontaneously deployed in Brooklyn when rush hour service is snarled. On Twitter, Lander has criticized the F Express for “leaving thousands in crowded stations w/less service” and “dressing up service cuts.”