Since 1998, L train ridership has increased by 98 percent, a jump that’s been escalated since 2007, when a new signal system increased train frequency throughout the city. In 2014, the MTA—which had taken particular note of L train backlogs at both the Bedford Avenue and 1st Avenue stations—proposed a $300 Million project to increase L train capacity by as many as 2,200 additional passengers per hour, build two new entrances at the Bedford Avenue and 1st Avenue Stations, and add elevators, making them handicap-accessible. The MTA considered the problem was serious enough that they submitted the project to the Federal Transit Administration for inclusion in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
The project would allow for 2,200 new hourly riders due to the installation of three “power substations.” And the two new seven-foot-wide staircase entrances in Williamsburg would be placed on the east side of Bedford Avenue, and increase entrance-capacity by 138 percent. (Since 1998, weekday station entries shot up by 250 percent.)
And now, Senator Chuck Schumer, known for attending large indie concerts in Williamsburg and riding his bike (federal politicians: they’re just like us!)—and who has seen those Bedford Avenue L Train entrances bursting at the seams with lines that don’t move, too, has figured, hey, I’m a US Senator, I can help! So, yesterday, his office released word that the Senator wrote to the FTA to make sure they would do everything they could to get the requested $150 million to fund the project into next year’s Presidential budget.
In the release, Schumer writes, “Sometimes getting on the L-Train at rush hour is harder than getting tickets for a Beyoncé concert or Hamilton on Broadway.” True, those are very hard things. Maybe exiting the L train at 6pm on weekday at Bedford Avenue is a little easier, but it still sucks a lot. “The FTA should do everything possible to fast track this essential plan to improve L-train capacity and service,” Schumer continues.
Let’s hope Schumer’s voice does add a little urgency to the MTA’s request in this election year. While Schumer points out that the L Train is busy across all 10.3 miles of its track, there is undoubtedly a glaring bottle-neck issue in Williamsburg and the LES. We’ll all have a little less to complain about if Schumer and the MTA succeed, but riding the train could actually be tolerable.