NYTIP – enhancing the nyc subway, part 2: south brooklyn

UPDATE (10.30.2019): Post updated for clarity. Some images updated. New images added.

In my last post, I discussed the Central Park West de-interlining. Continuing with point 1 of my three-point plan to improve the NYC Subway (enhance), I’ll address the B, D, N, Q, and R lines in Brooklyn.

NOTE: Click any image to enlarge.

[Fig. 1] Snippet of the NYC Subway map showing the South Brooklyn subway lines and their branches to Manhattan.

As the map above shows, many subway lines serve South Brooklyn. NYTIP addresses the B, D, N, Q, and R lines due to their complex interaction throughout the borough. Starting from Manhattan:

  • From the 6th Avenue express tracks, the B and D cross the Manhattan Bridge together on the north side and split in Brooklyn; the B serves the Brighton Line and the D serves the 4th Avenue trunk line.
  • From the Broadway express tracks, the N and Q cross the Manhattan Bridge together on the south side and split in Brooklyn; the N serves the 4th Avenue trunk line and the Q serves the Brighton Line.
  • From the Broadway local tracks, the R enters Brooklyn via the Montague Street tunnel and serves the 4th Avenue trunk line.

On the Brighton Line, the B runs express and the Q runs local. On 4th Avenue, the D and N run express and the R runs local.

As you can see, there is a lot of interlining here, which causes a lot of problems. The main culprit is the so-called Gold Street interlocking, which controls the set of switches north of DeKalb Avenue station:

[Fig. 2] Snippet of the NYC Subway track map from vanshnookenraggen showing the complex set of switches and junctions north of DeKalb Avenue.

This interlocking causes a lot of delays for B, D, N, Q, and R riders in Brooklyn – but it doesn’t have to. That’s where NYTIP comes in.

As with Central Park West, NYTIP prescribes a swap that simplifies train movements in all of South Brooklyn, improving regularity on the B, D, N, Q, and R lines. The solution:

Swap the D and Q lines in Brooklyn.

[Fig. 3] D/Q swap, northern segment, via Brand New Subway.

[Fig. 4] D/Q swap, southern segment.

[Fig. 5] Modified track map showing Gold Street interlocking after the D/Q swap, which eliminates all merging conflicts.

Through this swap. the D replaces the Q as the Brighton local to Coney Island, while the Q replaces the D as the 4th Avenue express to Coney Island via the West End line. Under NYTIP, the Broadway and 6th Avenue lines no longer conflict with each other, improving regularity throughout South Brooklyn.

Implications for DeKalb Avenue and Atlantic Avenue

At DeKalb Avenue, the D/Q swap essentially exchanges direct service to Canal Street and Broadway for direct service to Grand Street and 6th Avenue. The station retains direct service to Broadway via the R line, albeit through Lower Manhattan. Brighton riders desiring Broadway service can make a cross-platform transfer at DeKalb Avenue for the R, or make the longer transfer at Atlantic Avenue for the N/Q/R.

Alternative option: Swap the B and N lines

[Fig. 6] Overview of the B/N swap.

[Fig. 7] Modified track map showing Gold Street interlocking after the B/N swap, which also eliminates all merging conflicts.

In this scenario, the B replaces the N as the 4th Avenue express to Coney Island via Sea Beach, and the N replaces the B as the Brighton express to Brighton Beach. The B/N swap also removes conflicts between the Broadway and 6th Avenue lines in Brooklyn.

Back in 2004, the MTA surveyed Brighton Line riders about their travel preferences and they picked Broadway over 6th Avenue by a near 2-to-1 ratio. If most Brighton Line riders still prefer Broadway today, then the B/N swap works in their favor. Of course, one must weigh this against 4th Avenue/Sea Beach riders’ preferences.

Implications for DeKalb Avenue and Atlantic Avenue

Under this option, DeKalb Avenue essentially becomes an express stop on the Broadway trunk serving N, Q, and R trains; however, it loses direct access to 6th Avenue. At Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center, Brighton riders desiring 6th Avenue service must make the long transfer since there is no cross-platform opportunity.

Recommended path forward: D/Q swap. This option achieves the desired de-interlining while preserving simple transfers between the Broadway and 6th Avenue services. There is merit to the B/N swap; as I dive deeper into NYTIP, I may revisit this.

In my next post, I’ll address the Broadway and Queens Boulevard trunk lines. Until next time!

2 thoughts on “NYTIP – enhancing the nyc subway, part 2: south brooklyn

  1. To me DeKalb de-interlining seems like a no-brainer. It is also helpful to realize that through most of Midtown the 6 Ave trains and the Broadway trains are only about an avenue apart, so for most people there is minimal additional walking if they have to trade a 6 Ave train for a Broadway train or vice versa.

    The only areas where it does make a difference is for the part of Manhattan between Canal and 14th. Here, a new transfer opportunity between the Prince Street BMT station on the Broadway line and the Broadway-Laffayette station on the 6 Ave line would allow for some additional flexibility as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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