Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bill de Blasio

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

2:40 PM EDT on September 7, 2016

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.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

School Bus Driver Hits Cyclist, Injures 3, On Major Brooklyn School Bike Route

The crash happened on the route of the weekly Bergen bike bus.

September 21, 2023

City of Yes Yes Yes! Adams Calls for Elimination of Parking Mandates on ALL New Housing

Mayor Adams today announced the historic end to one of the city’s most antiquated — and despised — zoning laws requiring the construction of parking with every new development.

September 21, 2023

Cruise Ships Saddle Red Hook with Traffic ‘Nightmare,’ Toxic Fumes

Red Hook is drowning in traffic and smog from cruise ships Mayor Adams has touted as a "boost" to the economy.

September 21, 2023

Thursday Headlines: UN Hypocrisy Week Edition

The Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden preach climate action, yet still oppose better bus service. Plus other news.

September 21, 2023

Online Retailers Selling Illegal Batteries and Mopeds to City Buyers

Call it Amazon crime: The mammoth online retailer is selling illegal batteries and mopeds to city residents, despite such devices being forbidden from city streets.

September 21, 2023
See all posts