Photo via The New L Train
As the doomsday clock ticks down the minutes to the dreaded L train apocalypse–the line is being shut down between 8th Avenue in Manhattan and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn for Hurricane Sandy repairs starting in April of 2019–the powers that be have been telling us to take the bus, take the bus and take the bus or ride a bike. But Gothamist reports that a service called The New L hopes to keep us out of commuter hell by offering ultra-luxe commuter vans with professional chauffeurs at the wheel plus wi-fi, breakfast bars, and phone chargers.
Since developers laid down the law some years ago that everything involving Williamsburg must use the word “luxury” in front of it, the classic carpool van concept has added some lifestyle upgrades and plans to hit the road come shutdown time. So how will a new fleet of vehicles added to daily traffic keep us from getting gridlocked? No one seems to know that particular answer, but at least we can enjoy our stalled commute with like-minded riders who also forked over the $155 monthly fee for the only service “exclusively focused on solving for the L Train shutdown.”
The fee only covers the trip into Manhattan, but the “group of Brooklynites and transportation professionals who were sick of not having a good answer” tell us on their website, which features a teeth-achingly diverse, cute and beaming squad of commuters, that their wheels are #worthit. One interesting aspect of The New L service is an attempt to reach out to business customers looking to help their employees get to work on time, raising the question of whether subsidized shuttle rides will be the new hot employee benefit.
While “The New L” has the highest of hopes for disrupting the disruption, the best-laid plans end up stuck in traffic when there’s too much of it. In addition to expanded bus routes, beefed-up subway service, and a contingency plan that calls for a partial auto-ban along 14th Street from 5 A.M. to 10 P.M. with no known strategy for enforcement, the current official plans may lead to more private cars on the road as displaced riders get frustrated with transit options. What happens then?
It’s not an unlikely scenario that major thoroughfares would become “bus parking lots,” according to Annie Weinstock, a transportation planner and President of BRT Planning International. Which puts The New L behind a bus somewhere on 14th Street in what Danny Pearlstein of advocacy group Rider’s Alliance calls a “nightmare L-pocalypse scenario.”
- Agencies announce May town hall meetings to discuss impending L train shutdown
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- MTA releases plan to address impending 15-month shutdown of L train
- The MTA considers a ‘car-free busway’ as L-train alternative