Page 5

At the opening ceremonies, part of the Franklin Shuttle rehabilitation team poses beside the R-68 after the inaugural run. Douglas Diamond photo

To be fair, the positive aspects of the reconstructed line outweigh the negatives. On the positive side there is the re-built roadbed, without which no trains could run at all. The entire elevated structure was in danger of collapse and required serious repairs or otherwise faced abandonment. And, of course the connection with the IRT lines at Botanic Garden station is most beneficial as it allows for passengers to move between BMT, IRT and IND systems should any one of those lines faces service delays.
     My only criticism in regards to the new Franklin Shuttle is that it appears not to have been reconstructed with the thought of using it to make emergency connections in the event of delays on any of the connecting subway lines. The fact that the rebuilt stations can only handle trains of two 75-foot cars—plus the one-track operation north of Botanic Garden station—means the Franklin will be ill equipped to manage the extra passenger loads should rush-hour riders from the Brighton Line attempt to reach the IND 8th Ave. Line (A/C) or vice-versa.
     The real triumph of the new Franklin Shuttle is the way in which elected officials, community leaders and public and private corporate interests united to reach a common goal. The myth that such diverse groups have to be at constant odds is shattered by a project such as the Franklin Shuttle. It should be a reminder of what can be achieved when spirit, drive and commitment are combined with planning and vision.
     Though only is little more than a mile in length, there is something distinctly "Brooklyn" about the Franklin Shuttle. Maybe because it is an underdog in the realm of urban transportation—much like the old Brooklyn Dodgers who (once located at Ebbets Field along the Shuttle's route) had to fight for their place in the sun—the line struggles against the odds to prove it can stand the test of time.
     The Franklin Shuttle may have been brought into the 21st Century, but it is still a humbling thought that though we are in the computer age, urban transportation is still primarily dependant on steel wheels riding on steel rails. 

2000 Douglas Diamond







At the Shuttle platform at Prospect Park, the author (Doug Diamond, right) poses with editor Paul Matus as one of the Shuttle's trainsets waits behind.  Miscellaneous Motorman photo

Into the 22nd Century? The old structure had originally been intended for lighter elevated cars. The structure was reinforced in 1924 for subway cars but, by the 1990s, the old steelwork succumbed to years of pounding and years of studied neglect. The new bridge over Park Place looks ready to handle whatever use the Shuttle might need in an optimistic future. Paul Matus photo

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Last updated March 3, 2000