Yet another report finds the G train isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be

The G train. (cattoo via Flickr)
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In recent months, activists and interested local officials have said the G train was too crowded, the trains didn't run frequently enough, and even that it's subpar service wreaked havoc on their love lives.

This isn't new thing. The G train has a bad reputation which, it seems, no findings can fix

This time, State Senators Dan Squadron and Martin Milave Dilan demanded the M.T.A. conduct a comprehensive review of the G train.

The M.T.A. released that review today. You can read it here

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It found, as have at least two studies before it, that the G train is not actually all that bad, even if there is some room for improvement.

Here are some of its findings: "With a 12-month terminal [on-time-performance] typically around 90%, the G has historically performed better than the average line in the system."

Also, the line's wait assessment, which measures the percentage of trains that arrive within 25 percent of the scheduled wait time, "is consistently above the systemwide [wait assessment] average of around 79%. The G has the best WA results of all lines, excluding the shuttle lines."

The G train's relatively good performance numbers, however, are often overshadowed by the scheduled infrequency of G train service.

The G train averages 10 minute headways, or six trains per hour, because ridership on the line remains low (in other words, the G train is not all that crowded).

"It remains among the least traveled lines in New York City," notes the report.

By way of comparison, the more heavily traveled F train runs every 4 minutes during the p.m. rush hour.

It is where those two lines intersect that the G train encounters its most serious problems, and it is there that the M.T.A. found the greatest room for improvement:

Scheduling the G train around the busier and more frequent F train causes uneven headways and passenger loads on the G, most significantly during the afternoon peak period, when G service is scheduled at the minimum guideline frequency of 6 trains per hour (an average 10-minute headway).

The M.T.A.'s recommendation: "By mid-2014, increase the frequency of G service during the afternoon peak period from 6 to 7½ trains per hour between approximately 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., contingent on funding. By reducing average headways from 10 minutes to 8 minutes, the G timetable will mesh more effectively with the F timetable, evening out wait times and passenger loads."

The latter will cost about $700,000, which the M.T.A. should be able to find.

The M.T.A. calls for some other tweaks too: namely, it calls for the installation of better signage so that passengers know where to wait to board the train; and it calls for making those stopping positions more rational: "By the end of 2013, adjust selected train stopping positions to better accommodate the short G trains, to make weekday and weekend stopping positions uniform, and to encourage more even passenger loads throughout the trains."

"What it found is exactly what these full line reviews are supposed to find, cost effective ways to improve the riders' experience," Squadron told me, when I asked him if the report didn't just confirm that the G train isn't as terrible as its reputation indicates. "And that's no small thing for someone whose only option to get into the subway system is the G train."