The MTA's transit committee voted Monday to resurrect a truncated version of the long-suspended W train, from Astoria in Queens to Whitehall Street in Lower Manhattan. The W got the axe in 2010, when the MTA budget deficit was a comparatively-paltry $1.2 billion. Bringing it back, the MTA says, will ease the insult of lost Q service in Astoria, when that train reroutes to new stations on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan.
The approved W train proposal will likely pass a full committee vote on Wednesday, and service is expected to launch in November—before the MTA reroutes the Q train, which currently serves Astoria along with the N, to promised new stations between 63rd and 96th streets.
Before the Second Avenue Subway stations open to the public, the Q will temporarily terminate at 57th street. AM New York reports that N trains will start running express during peak weekday hours as soon as the W is on the rails.
Incorporated into the subway system in 2001, the W ran from Astoria all the way to Coney Island until 2004. That year, the W switched to a local route from Astoria to Whitehall. Along with the V train and several bus routes, it was nixed as part of the largest service cut in the MTA's history—at a time when Astoria was seeing an influx of new residents. ("To cut the only service to this neighborhood in half would be like choking the breath out of this community," Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. said at the time.)
Addressing the MTA transit committee on Monday, Board Member Andrew Albert said that while he endorses the plan, he'd like to see the W fully restored to something closer to its pre-2004 glory.
"I will still put in a pitch for, during rush hour, extending the W down to say, a Bay Parkway terminus," he said. "Having the R the only train along local stations along 4th Avenue and rapidly developing areas of Southern Brooklyn is not enough."
Albert argued that W trains will be originating in Brooklyn anyway, and will be passing through R stations that the MTA is planning to skip.
Rail service planning manager Judy McClain countered that ridership along the R line doesn't merit a service expansion; even if it did, she clarified, "we don't have the equipment right now." McClain added somewhat vaguely that, "in the future, if ridership grows, we can get more cars." Until then, some W trains will stop in Brooklyn on their way into service early in the morning, picking up passengers along the way like a regular R train.
Regardless, here's hoping the W train's boozy funeral will get an equally enthusiastic re-birthday follow-up.