The route that is the current Franklin Avenue Shuttle was built by the Brooklyn Raid Transit Corporation, or BRT, later the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit
corporation, or BMT, to connect the Brighton Line to the Fulton Avenue Elevated. The Brighton Line was a mid 19th century tourist railway through Southern Brooklyn
that took holiday makers to the resort at Coney Island
. This is the portion of the current D
route from approximately Church Ave. to near Brighton Beach.
Eventually, the Brighton Line was acquired, along with the rest of the South Brooklyn railways, by the BRT. The BRT operated the vast elevated transit network in Brooklyn at the turn of the century, and was one of the two private companies, along with the Interboro Rapid Transit, that built the initial portions of the New York City subway and whose systems, along with the city built Independent, were consolidated to form the subway system as we know it.
The BMT initially tied the Brighton line into the rest of its network through the route of the current Franklin Avenue Shuttle from Parkside to Fulton Avenue, where it connected to the Fulton Avenue Elevated and service to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge. Thus this route of today's rather obscure and unimportant shuttle began as integral through service.
In the Dual Contracts era of subway construction in the 20s, in which the city planned the routes of the BMT and IRT, the BMT tied the Brighton Line into this De Kalb Avenue network of Manhattan access with the subway under Flatbush Avenue, a route identical to today's D train in the portion from Brighton Beach to the Manhattan Bridge. At the time trains from Brighton went either through the tunnel or over the bridge to the Broadway line, neither of which they do today, but through service, and faster through service at that, could now happen without the portion of the route that is today's shuttle.
In the late 20s and early 30s, the city built its own Independent (IND) system to compete with the BMT and IRT. One Independent project was a subway under Fulton Avenue that rendered the Fulton Avenue elevated rather redundant. In 1940 the city consolidated the three formerly separate transit systems and began the task of unifying them. The Fulton Avenue elevated was torn down making the Franklin Avenue line a short train to nowhere. It was reduced to shuttle service as it is today.
The shuttle was one of the more notorious parts of the subway in the crime ridden days of the 80s. One station, Dean Street, was actually closed permanently because of too much crime. The route decayed steadily. One interesting feature of this era was that there was no direct transfer from the shuttle to the A and C Trains at the end of the shuttle route. Passengers were given transfer tickets and had to walk a bit along street level.
The shuttle was closed for reconstruction and just in the past year it was completed. Now there is only one track, meaning, obviously, that only one train can make the run back and forth. Stations were rebuilt to be only three cars long, by far the shortest stations on the system. The stations were redone very nicely, though, and a bridge and enclosed escalator was installed at Fulton Avenue finally making a direct transfer possible to the A and C.
The shuttle runs a train of R68 stock, disgusting 75' cars from the 80s with a mirrored interior.