Non-Manhattan Commuting

Friday, February 25, 2011

David Giles, research associate at the Center for an Urban Future, discusses his new report showing that public transportation infrastructure is failing to meet the needs of the outer four boroughs. Population and jobs are growing faster in the outer boroughs, and more people are commuting to places that are not Manhattan than ever before.

If you are an inter-outer-borough commuter, call in and tell us your story. Call in at 10:25 or share your story here!


David Giles

Comments [51]

John Leon from Greenpoint

NYC Transit does not want the G to go
past Court Square. I have met with them
in person a number of times. I was told
that we should get over wanting a one seat
ride to Queens Plaza and beyond. I was
also told that it is good exercise for us to walk through the 600 feet of transfer at
Court Square. I wish all of the people on
this forum would complain to them about
extending the G into Queens, in a forceful

Feb. 26 2011 07:35 PM
George from Park Slope

Not only did your guest not know about the G train, he did not seem to know that for two weeks the MTA has set up the B63 bus [5th Ave] so you can text and find out when the next will arrive. Please, have a more informed guest.
...And how about a segment on where the next subway extension should be. I'll start with Flatbush Avenue from the 2/5 terminal down to Kings Plaza in Brooklyn. Construction would be hell, but the project is worthwhile. Looking at the Queens map, there are certainly communities past Flushing which deserve subway service. If we don't start talking about non-Manhattan extensions now, they'll never get on the drawing board for our grandchildren.

Feb. 25 2011 11:47 AM
Joe Pearce from Greenpoint, Brooklyn

In re-reading my prior comment, I left out that the two-to-three minute rush hour schedule of the G train at a $.15 fare was ongoing during the whole of my childhood and my early working years - say 1940 to the late 1960s. Sorry for the poor wording.

Feb. 25 2011 10:58 AM
h l from brooklyn

WHO is this guy? he doesn't know much and is misinforming people. he said, no one really rides the buses, then he said, they're trying to improve the buses b/c everyone rides them. come on WNYC! and you want more support/money from us?

Feb. 25 2011 10:53 AM
JessieB from Brooklyn

Just another comment to support the G train tunnel info -- I lived in Astoria 6-7 years ago and the G used to run to my stop at Steinway and beyond. The second year I lived there the G stopped running past Court Square and made my attempts to visit friends in Brooklyn over twice as difficult -- I eventually just moved to Brooklyn and it made those visits much easier :)

Feb. 25 2011 10:53 AM
Joe Pearce from Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Unless I misheard, Mr. Giles said that the G train could not progress one more stop without the digging of a new tunnel. That tunnel is there, does not need any kind of repair as it is otherwise used by the Transit Authority right now, and was in use since at least the 1940s (in my experience) as the G train traveled all the way out to the same places that the E train also traveled, and still travels, to. And he says the G train can't take on any further load, but it could if they ran more of them rather than the scheduled one every ten minutes during rush hour (and there is almost never one every ten minutes at that time anyway), going up to one every twenty minutes to half-hour in non-rush hours, you could look down the tracks and watch the lights of a departing train disappearing in the distance and then look in the other direction and see the lights of an arriving train wending its way into the station - in other words, the G was running about every 2 or three minutes - at $.15 per trip. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Feb. 25 2011 10:52 AM
michael from greenpoint

@Leah from brooklyn, you are so right! no need for a right of way, just get rid of the aging horrible BQE and replace it with an above ground trainline.

Feb. 25 2011 10:49 AM

To confirm the G Train claims, go look at any MTA map published within the last 20 years.

Moreover, the latest publicly-accessible track map reflecting the G train at Queens Plaza can be found at

Feb. 25 2011 10:46 AM
Barry Blitstein from NYC

Your New Rochelle commuter can take a city bus at the East 125th Street station which stops at the N/Q train in Astoria on its way to LaGuardia.

Feb. 25 2011 10:46 AM

G train used to go from Forest Hills. I used to take it from Elmhurst to Ft. Greene when I worked there years ago.

Feb. 25 2011 10:45 AM
RO from Briarwood

Of course there is an existing tunnel connecting the G train to Queens Plaza and the rest of Queens. The G train used to travel all the way to Forest Hills.

Feb. 25 2011 10:45 AM
Robert from NYC

Well you don't want folks to drive. You want them to take mass transit. Encourage mass transit by putting more clean buses inter-borough that don't to thru Manhattan.

Feb. 25 2011 10:43 AM
Alyssa from Brooklyn, NY

I'm a daily commuter from Bushwick Brooklyn to Flushing Queens at Queens College. I have to take the L train to the J train and then the Q65 bus from Jamaica. The bus is the longest part of the trip and really there needs to be Bus Rapid Transit connecting the trains in Queens to the outer sections.

I'm classified as an extreme commuter by the U.S. Census because I spend more than 3 hrs a day commuting to and from work even though it is only 7 miles apart. I justified my current living situation not because of cost but for social reasons. As a young woman I cannot justify taking unreliable trains from Brooklyn to neighborhoods closer to Queens College late at night after social events or art shows. Also I didn't want to make my life all about my job.

In nicer weather I can bike 16 miles round trip for less than half the time it takes by public transit.

There is a serious dead zone for public transit from Sunnyside, Maspeth, Rego Park and Middle Village. There needs to be faster bus service in this area since we know there is no possibility for more subway lines.

Feb. 25 2011 10:42 AM
Rom from Brooklyn

Your speaker is incorrect about the G train, there is no need to dig a tunnel, the tracks already exist to send the G onto the E/7 station path, and in fact they had this service on weekends and nights in the past but cut it, even though it was heavily used. The MTA does not use base their service for the G.

Feb. 25 2011 10:42 AM
JB from long island city

please tell your guest that there already is a tunnel on the G line that goes to Queens Plaza

Feb. 25 2011 10:42 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

My kingdom for a train version of the Brooklyn-Queens expressway.

Feb. 25 2011 10:42 AM
Amy from Jackson Heights

A quick correction about the G train--there's no need to dig a new train because it used to run to Queens Plaza and 74th Street in Jackson Heights on the weekend up until a couple of years ago. Travel between Brooklyn and Queens would be much easier if this happened full time so people could have access to these transit hubs.

Feb. 25 2011 10:42 AM
Edward from NJ

As jm pointed out, the G used to run along the whole R line. No one needs to dig any tunnels.

Feb. 25 2011 10:42 AM

Why did the G train stop going to queens???

Feb. 25 2011 10:42 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Oh, and, ask for an understanding boss or company when all labor unions are ineffectual or a distant memory.
Go ahead, be late because the rich want more tax breaks and won't help us keep up and rebuild the infrastructure and commute system!!!

Feb. 25 2011 10:41 AM
Jamal from bensonhurst

I am a science teacher in Williamsburg and i live in Bensonhurst. So from getting from south Brooklyn to north Brooklyn takes me an hour and 15 minutes if i take the D to the R to the G. And it's about the same time when i take the D to the N into Manhattan and catch the L.
So i end up driving everyday- If i leave early enough i can make the trip in 35 minutes- unfortunately i drive a minivan and so my cost in gas each week is too much.
I love my neighborhood... and my job... so should i move? or just get a Prius and not feel so bad.

Feb. 25 2011 10:41 AM
tuva from Brooklyn

In fact, the G train (as the GG train) used to run all the way to Forest Hills/Continental Avenue.

Feb. 25 2011 10:41 AM
michael from greenpoint

the tunnel already exists! the G used to go further, they cut it. Just cause it's the only non manhattan train it always gets the short end of the stick, so much so that its even 2 cars shorter for no good reason. at least they extented it to church ave in the south end.

Feb. 25 2011 10:41 AM
Mike from bk

Converting the bay ridge freight line to passenger service would go a long way to fixing the brooklyn-queens-bronx commute

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM

who is this guy? there is no need to dig a tunnel. the tunnel is already there. the E train uses it. the G uses it on the rare occasions that it runs to forest hills. (like it used to all the time)

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM
bub from all over

the G train used to go to queens plaza, until they cut service. now it's been extended south, the train used to go all the way out in queens, no new tunnel required. it's a no-brainer easy fix for a lot of commuters.

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM
anonymous from astoria

The guest is wrong.There's no need to "dig a new tunnel" to connect the G train with Queens Plaza! That tunnel already exists and was used for year until recent cuts.

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM
Steve from Brooklyn Hts

Correction of your guest: the G train used to continue through to Queens Plaza and on to the Queens Blvd line - the tunnel is already there!! WHY does the G Train NOT go to Queens Plaza now??

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM
stevehelp ere,me h

Please h

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM
Larry from Wburg

No new tunnel is needed for that extension of G train. It used to make that stop at Qns. Plaza.
Furthermore, the G is a half train- only 5 cars even though the stations are long enough to accommodate full-size trains. The G would be great if run like the other train lines.

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM

ERROR: The G Train CAN run that "one more stop". In fact, it can run to 179th St or even Jamacia Center if the MTA wanted - all they have to do is throw two switches.

Feb. 25 2011 10:40 AM
Christopher Chew from Brooklyn

we should have more water based commuting which involve less infrastructure and re-used existing piers that dot the entire shoreline of the 5 boros, like in the case of Hong Kong between the mainland part of Hong Kong and the immediate island below.

Feb. 25 2011 10:39 AM

Commuting between boroughs - even Brooklyn and Queens, which are touching, is quite difficult! It makes no sense that the G train does not go over a longer distance into Queens. Even more upsetting is that commuting within a borough - North Brooklyn (Greenpoint), where I lived, to South Brooklyn (Sheepshead Bay/ Coney Island), is lengthy and difficult, especially compared to commuting to one or the other from most areas in Manhatttan.

Feb. 25 2011 10:39 AM
Lee from Jackson Heights

Why aren't there express buses on the BQE? Getting from Queens to Bklyn is so fast by car, and so insanely slow by public transportation. Why??

Feb. 25 2011 10:39 AM
Jay from Flatbush

I commute from Brooklyn to a college on Staten Island. Two trains to Whitehall, the SI Ferry, and then (fortunately) a shuttle service to my campus. Come home in reverse.

It takes 75-90 minutes each way.

I second Truth & Beauty's request for better Brooklyn-Queens options. The 2nd Avenue subway would be nice; another Brooklyn-Queens line would be life-changing.

Feb. 25 2011 10:39 AM

My wife works at the Brooklyn museum, we live in Bushwick, she takes the B54 to the B69 it takes her an 1 hour 1/2 that is ridiculous, putting an express on myrtle ave would cut that in half, there are stops every other block just about. i commute from bushwick to Jersey city it takes me 45 mins, from door to door.. an express bus on myrtle please!!

Feb. 25 2011 10:39 AM

No, the tunnel already exists! It used to stop at Queens Plaza.

Feb. 25 2011 10:38 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Another issue that annoys me is that while public transportation is supposed to be less expensive and greener, it turns out that it is very expensive and takes longer than driving.

I have two commutes that I can tell you about:

Commuting from Brooklyn to anywhere in Westchester takes 3.5 hours EACH WAY: bus -> subway -> GCT -> Metro North -> Bee Line. Driving takes about 1.5 hours.

Commuting from Mahwah to Brooklyn costs $26.50+ each day. Park at NJTransit station -> NJTransit train to Secaucus -> transfer to NYC-bound train -> Penn Station -> subway. Takes nearly 2.5 hours each way. Driving takes 1 hour 15 minutes each and costs $8.00/day for the GW Bridge toll.

Public transportation falls FAR short of its intended purpose with the exception of looking for parking.

Feb. 25 2011 10:38 AM
Tom Moore from park slope

i commute from park slope, bklyn to jamaica queens... via LIRR from atlantic - flatbush LIRR station (costs twice as much as subway) for fast ride out to jamaica. i take the subway thru manhattan very rarely. i took the subway thru bklyn and queens once.

my colleague commutes from NJ to Jamaica using path and the subway.

my wife takes a bus and subway combination to get from the slope to her flatbush bklyn public school job - if she doesnt drive.

Feb. 25 2011 10:38 AM
JT from LI

Long Island to the Bronx is expensive and long without a car. It's 90 minutes each way with the LIRR to Penn Sta and then the subway. Driving it can be 45 minutes each way. I'd rather take my chances with traffic. Some rail following the RFK bridge would be great. I'm sure baseball fans would love to leave the car at home, but getting from Astoria to Yankee stadium or the Bronx to Citi Field is too long a trip by car.

Feb. 25 2011 10:38 AM
Marissa from Jersey City

Please NYC, implement more Bus Rapid Transit!

Feb. 25 2011 10:37 AM
Steph from brooklyn

the subway seems to have been contrsucted primarily for commuters to manhattan. I often found it easier to commute to manhattan than within brooklyn. the subway system hasn't kept up the growth of brooklyn as a destination.
and so, it is often easier to go out of brooklyn and come back into brooklyn... otherwise it is a long commute.

Feb. 25 2011 10:37 AM

YES! Why why why doesn't the G train go one extra stop to Queens Plaza so riders can have subway access to Queens trains other than the M and E? Just ONE stop! The same goes for the need to make an outdoor transfer from the G to all the Atlantic Av stop trains (the latter used to be a work commute).

I'm currently commuting to the city, but parts of my job require travel to many areas of Brooklyn/Queens, so this still affects me.

Feb. 25 2011 10:36 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

I commute from Brooklyn to Staten Island on public transport. I take 2 subways and the ferry and it takes 1.5 hours. I don't know how it can be improved given the isolation of Staten Island from the rest of the city. It is unfortunate that there is no train to SI which is why I cannot live there!

It would be nice if the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan was more frequent and would not bunch up. Sometimes at rush hour there is 2 mins between trains. Then 14 mins!

Feb. 25 2011 10:36 AM
Robert from NYC

Well it's true. To get from one borough to another for the most part you for a speedy travel you have to pass thru Manhattan. I say speedy because although there are inter-borough non-thru Manhattan buses but buses are slow due to surface traffic and there are few such buses. E.g., to get to SI from the Bx you go thru Manhattan OR you can go up tho the Tappan Zee bridge to NJ Turnpike down to Goettels Bridge to SI!!!

Feb. 25 2011 10:36 AM
Marissa from Jersey City

I commuted 1 + hours each way from the UWS to Montclair, NJ for 3 years and had many fellow-commuters from Queens or Brooklyn making 2.5 hour or longer commutes (mostly nannies). Now, I commute from Jersey City to Montclair - and even though it's only 18.5 miles it takes 1.5 hours each way. I used to think the worst commutes were in Southern California - but people in the NYC metro area definitely put in more time between work and home. My commute when I lived in San Diego used to be 15 minutes each way.

Feb. 25 2011 10:35 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Yeah, a serious disconnect from Brooklyn to Queens to Staten Island to the Bronx!

Manhattan is doing fine.

Feb. 25 2011 10:33 AM
Greg from Brooklyn

For a year I worked on Riker's Island. What a commute! First the G Train. Then a lovely walk through autobody shops in Long Island City to Queens Plaza. A bus from there to Riker's Island. Then the lovely "route bus" around the Island. Sometimes with bars on the windows. Sometimes not. Door to door it was about 2 hours...

Feb. 25 2011 10:33 AM
michael from broolyn

i used to commute from brooklyn to amityville, and then my next job was brooklyn to central jersey. both were a nightmare. luckily the amityville job was close to the amityville train station, but the central jersey job required a 7 mile drive from the train station. I tried to bike it, I tried to carpool it, and just drive myself. It was expensive, traffic ridden and it killed my attitude and sometimes took 2 hours.

Feb. 25 2011 10:32 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

The problem is not getting from the "outer boroughs" to Manhattan, but getting from one "outer borough" to another. Even though Brooklyn and Queens share a border, the subway system requires, for the most part, that one travel through Manhattan to get from Brooklyn to Queens or vice versa. There should be a big subway "X" running from Northwest Queens to Southeast Brooklyn and from Northeast Queens to Southwest Brooklyn and the ability to transfer to existing lines or buses for faster and easier travel.

Also, there needs to be a better way to get from Staten Island to Brooklyn and Manhattan. Maybe a rail line on the Verrazano Bridge.

People who commute from the "outer boroughs" to Manhattan have a fairly reasonable commute - by subway, at least - unless they are in a "two-fare" zone, which requires that they take at least two buses to get to a subway station, so that's another hole that the MTA needs to plug. The express buses do some of that job, but the fare is now $5.50, so a round-trip commute is now $55.00/week, which is pretty high. Also, I've found that the express bus arrival times on the printed schedules are EXTREMELY optimistic - probably based on the time it takes to do the trip at 3am on Sunday, as opposed to real time during rush hour. As the buses are part of surface transport, they are subject to all the delays that every other vehicle is, and they are pretty much always late. The fastest way to travel during rush hour is by subway, so the MTA needs to make itself more accessible.

Feb. 25 2011 10:14 AM
David from Montclair

What does this page mean?
Comparing two growth rates?
Growth in the number of public transit trips v. growth in jobs and pop?
Growth of jobs and pop that are transit jobs v. economy as a whole?
Edit please!

Feb. 25 2011 09:55 AM

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