Lose-Lose: Both Possible L Train Shutdown Scenarios Really Suck

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We are the first to admit that there has been quite a lot of noise surrounding the L Train shutdown, even though, officially, no repair plan or schedule has been set. But: we’re getting closer.

Yesterday, the MTA confirmed they will pursue one of only two remaining options—having officially ruled out others—and both of them really suck. The announcement came just a day ahead of the first MTA-hosted public meeting, in which L train riders, affected businesses, and the general public will share their preferences and feelings (most likely rage) with the transit agency that sheepishly revealed in January that such a shutdown would be necessary.

The first option has been widely discussed and feared: a complete shutdown of both east- and west-bound Canarsie Tunnels, which would cut off all L Train traffic between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 18 months. The second repair option is also scary, but in a slightly different way: a longer repair schedule of approximately three years, in which some L Train service would be retained throughout the day by keeping one of two tunnels open. Under this scenario, trains would arrive approximately every twelve to fifteen minutes, rather than at their current rate of every three or four minutes, according to both Gothamist and NBC.

NBC also reported this would amount to an 80% reduction of current L service, not only between boroughs, but also within Manhattan. This is significant because, while so much of the fear surrounding the L shutdown has focused on Brooklyn residents and business owners, this drastic cut means Manhattan L riders who rely on it daily will be significantly impacted, too (though, to be fair, still able to seek relatively easier transportation alternatives). This is because L Train repair stations are in East New York, and the L’s tracks don’t merge with any other lines; so while the Canarsie Tunnel is shutdown, trains in Manhattan couldn’t receive necessary maintenance.

While we knew these two approaches were possible, we now know other options previously discussed have been ruled out. Transit President Veronique Hakim told reporters yesterday that they will no longer consider making tunnel repairs on nights and weekends only, which would have extended the repair timeline well beyond three years, and would have required overly-complex logistics in short periods of time, according to Gothamist—who also points out that the plan advocated for by a coalition that organized against a complete shutdown, building a brand new tunnel, will similarly not be pursued.

MTA Chairman Tom Pendergast told the Times this week that he thought the public meeting would reveal that most affected riders would prefer option A, the shorter, 18-month approach; the pain would be extreme but go away more quickly. At the meeting tonight, we will find out if that turns out to be true, and the MTA will reveal more details about each.

To air your own feelings about L Train repairs—which the agency confirmed will not begin until 2019—show up tonight at 6pm (or before) at the Marcy Avenue Armory. If you are unable to attend tonight, you can go to the second planned meeting on May 12 at 5pm, at the Salvation Army Theater in Manhattan.

 

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