Image via Governor Cuomo’s Flickr
With Governor Cuomo’s plan to avoid a total L train shutdown for 15 months in favor of a “nights and weekends” approach confirmed earlier this month, questions still remain about just what the alternate plan will entail and how riders will be affected. According to an exclusive MTA memo draft obtained by Streetsblog and the New York Post this week, it looks like the new Canarsie Tunnel repair plan will bring its own set of headaches for straphangers, including 20-minute waits between trains on weekends and an exit-only system at First and Third Avenues on weekends.
Titled “Potential L Tunnel Weekend and Late Night Service Plan With One-Track Closure,” the memo reveals that the agency is considering making the First and Third Avenue stations exit-only on weekends, eliminating the 14th Street busway, and canceling ferry service. In addition, there will be no L shuttle service or any increases in the number of G trains running.
On weekends, already packed trains that currently run every four minutes are expected to only run every 20 minutes, as construction crews would have to close one of the tunnel’s two tubes for the planned overhaul. This would cut back the number of trains running per hour from 15 to only four. “You’ll never be able to get on one of these Ls with 20-minute headways,” said Andrew Albert, an MTA board member who heads the New York City Transit Riders Council, to the Post. “People will be holding doors. People are going to be very angry.”
With such a drastic reduction of trains, there may be a need for crowd-control measures at heavily trafficked L platforms, including Union Square, Third Avenue, First Avenue, and Bedford Avenue. “If the monitoring of station crowds reveals a danger, the MTA would temporarily restrict access to the platforms,” according to Streetsblog.
That said, there are some pieces of “good news” in the memo as well. The agency is planning to have G trains run every eight minutes (slightly better than the current rate of every 10 minutes), free transfers between the Broadway stop on the G and the Hewes and Lorimer Street stops on the J and M lines, a free shuttle bus from the Bedford Avenue L to the Marcy Avenue J and M station, and an increase in M14 service.
Though the memo is dated January 22, MTA representatives have responded to coverage by deeming it “outdated.” In a statement, the agency said, “The alternative service plan for the L train hasn’t been completed yet, so citing draft and outdated reports is not only irresponsible but it does a disservice to New Yorkers and our customers who need reliable, official information. The MTA will work with the community to provide the service they need while keeping the L train open in both directions 24/7 and providing full, unaltered weekday service for 275,000 riders a day.”
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