Ever since South Brooklyn Councilmember David Greenfield triumphantly and prematurely announced the return of express F train service, the MTA has been playing defense, insisting that the plan isn't a done deal in the face of opposition from a number of other Brooklyn politicians. Still, there hasn't been any indication that the MTA won't go forward as planned, and Brooklynites who oppose the current plan for express service are now petitioning the authority to create a new plan to improve service on the F line for all riders, and scuttle a plan that they see as benefitting some southern Brooklyn communities at the expense of others who rely on the F.

The details of the proposed express service are as follows: express trains would skip Fort Hamilton Parkway, 15 St-Prospect Park, 4 Av-9 St, Smith-9 Sts, Carroll St, and Bergen St. During peak hours, express hours would save 3.4 minutes on average, while local riders would lose an average of 1.3 minutes, which the MTA says would amount to a net travel time benefit of 27,000. 52% of riders would experience longer commutes, compared to 48% of riders whose commutes would be shortened, according to the MTA's own data. If the MTA does go ahead with the plan, it wouldn't be before mid-2017, after other work is completed on the Culver line.

An initial petition was started last week by Erin Lippincott and Brian Stuss, but now directs to the one launched by elected officials. The couple hadn't heard about the plan for express service during its brief period of media attention in May, and found that many of their neighbors were similarly unaware.

"I thought, 'this can't be how things happen,'" Lippincott said. "It felt like it was done in the darkness. It felt like some sort of back room deal...I had a hard time believing that this is really how things happen in city planning."

At a heated City Council hearing on the matter, the MTA said that it would meet with elected officials and constituents about the plan—but apparently, no such meeting has happened or been scheduled in the seven weeks since the MTA made that commitment. Currently, the only official way for people to submit feedback on the matter is to write to the MTA's generic customer support inbox.

"Despite committing to do so in sworn testimony before the City Council, the MTA is now refusing to even schedule a meeting with the public about the proposal...or even with those elected to represent them," Councilmember Brad Lander said in a statement Thursday. "Riders all along the F train can agree, we need better service. But we need a plan that improves service for everyone—not one that makes it worse for most of us."

MTA Director of Communications Beth DeFalco emphasized that no final decision has yet been made, but that "NYCT made a preliminary recommendation" in favor of the proposed express service and will meet with stakeholders before making a final decision, which likely won't happen before the end of the year. She added that "we are still in the early stages of an extensive deliberative process, which includes considering all affected communities and the impact of such a service change on other lines throughout the system."

Lander has been joined by Councilmember Stephen Levin, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, State Senator Daniel Squadron, State Senator Jesse Hamilton, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, and Assemblymember James Brennan in petitioning the MTA to hear community input and come up with a new plan. Greenfield and a number of other South Brooklyn politicians, meanwhile, have championed express service as a "long overdue move that will drastically cut commute times for riders in southern Brooklyn and restore transit equity to neighborhoods that have languished in transit deserts for decades."

Nira Kaplan, who lives in Windsor Terrace and signed the petition against the MTA's current plan, said it doesn't seem that useful or fair to present the service as benefitting those with poor transit options while having a negative impact only on those who already live near other subway lines in more affluent parts of Brooklyn.

"A lot of people who take the F come to it from the R or from Red Hook, so it's not exactly the Park Slope people, or even the Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill people, that I'm really thinking about," Kaplan said. "Particularly at 4th Av-9th St, there's a huge number of people transferring from the R who are not elite in the sense of white, liberal, upper class, and they're the ones that also suffer from this."

As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had accumulated nearly 2,500 signatures in a day. So far it has not received a response from the MTA, but opponents to the current plan are hoping that the authority takes note and reconsiders how it might enhance F train service for more Brooklynites. The MTA says that it will meet with Lander and other concerned parties in the coming months but didn't provide any further specifications.

"I find it hard to believe there's no other option," Lippincott said. "Either add more service or don't do anything. Do not cut service. This borough is growing, and it's absurd to say now's the time to strand people."