A Closer Look at How the L Train Shutdown Will Disrupt Transit Trips

This diagram shows the alternate routes commuters would have to take to travel between L Train stops. Image: BRT Planning International
Without L train service in Manhattan, trips that used to be a one-seat ride between these origins (y-axis) and destinations (x-axis) will involve multiple transfers and/or long walks. Image: BRT Planning International

The 18-month shutdown of the L train between North Brooklyn and Eighth Avenue may be three years away, but officials still have to move quickly to help hundreds of thousands of L passengers get where they need to go. So far, city officials and the MTA have yet to provide much in the way of specifics.

To get a better sense of how transit service should adapt for the L shutdown, Annie Weinstock and Walter Hook of BRT Planning International analyzed how the loss of the L train west of Bedford Avenue would affect trip times if no measures are taken. Trips between Brooklyn and Manhattan that are currently a one-seat ride will become far more convoluted and inconvenient, as you can see in the top matrix.

Translated into time lost, the effect is most severe for L train riders who cannot conveniently connect to other subway lines at Myrtle/Wyckoff or Broadway Junction. You can see in the matrix below (which includes travel times between a sample of L train stations and other stations) that people by the Brooklyn stops west of Myrtle/Wyckoff are most affected.

The table shows additional travel times between stations impacted by the L Train shutdown. Image: BRT Planning International
How the L train shutdown would affect travel times between various points (including places not along the L) if no changes are made to the transit network. Image: BRT Planning International

In line with L train contingency plans released by other groups, they argue that the MTA should increase frequency on the J/M and G lines and allow free transfers between the G and the J/M at Lorimer, the Manhattan-bound F at Bergen Street, and Atlantic Terminal. They also recommend maintaining service frequency on the L east of Bedford Avenue.

Ferries, they note, will have limited value, since the services “help only the people near the Williamsburg and Greenpoint ferry terminals traveling to East 34th Street (and potentially E. 20th St).”

When Mayor de Blasio was asked in July about dealing with the L train shutdown, however, he emphasized ferry service as the city’s main contribution, largely deflecting responsibility for better bus service to the MTA, which can run more buses but doesn’t control the streets.

Hook and Weinstock say the city will have to claim street space for bus rapid transit routes to make up for the loss of the L. Merely adding shuttle service in mixed traffic will not be enough. “Shuttle buses that take people to subway stations would back up on already congested streets and would represent another leg in an already multi-legged trip,” they write. “Most people would not take them.”

In January, Hook and Weinstock proposed BRT routes for North Brooklyn and Delancey Street to serve displaced L passengers and meet long-term demand for transit across the East River. Based on their new analysis, they’ll be updating those plans soon.

  • Vooch

    15 Miles of PBL’s and bikeracks will solve läst Mile Challenge to Q and that other line

  • sbauman

    The analysis for additional time omits at least one important factor. That factor is the service reduction on the Brooklyn portion. The reduction is from trains running every 3 minutes (20 tph) to trains running every 8 minutes. This imposes additional wait times for all users – even those commuting in Brooklyn between two stops on the L train.

    Yesterday’s (7 Sep 2016) schedule shows the following between 8 and 9 am for Manhattan bound trains. There are: 11 trains leaving Canarsie; 13 trains leaving E 105th St and 19 trains leaving Myrtle-Wyckoff.

    The extra waiting time for passengers boarding at Canarsie is 1.3 minutes; the extra waiting time for passengers boarding between E 105th and Halsey is 1.7 minutes and between Myrtle-Wyckoff and Lorimer is 2.4 minutes. This represents wait for train increases of 48%, 74% and 250% respectively.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Keep L Train Passengers Moving With Great BRT

|
The news that Sandy-related repairs will require closing one or both directions of the L train under the East River (the “Canarsie Tube”) for one to three years has understandably caused panic among the estimated 230,000 daily passengers who rely on it. Businesses in Williamsburg that count on customers from Manhattan are also concerned about a […]
The MTA and DOT did not indicate any plans for busways on surface streets in a presentation to elected officials last week about the L train shutdown. Image: MTA

There’s Got to Be More to the L Train Shutdown Plan Than What the MTA and DOT Have Shown So Far

|
Starting in January 2019, service on the L train west of Bedford Avenue will be suspended for 15 months to allow for Sandy-related repairs. The only way to keep hundreds of thousands of people moving is to dedicate significant street space to buses on both sides of the East River. But at a presentation to elected officials on Friday, the MTA and DOT did not indicate that bus lanes are part of their plan, except on the Williamsburg Bridge itself.