The L Train shutdown is seven months away, and among the many concerns that remain is how the city’s already overcrowded and in-crisis transit system will truly be able to accommodate the influx of straphangers seeking travel alternatives.
With 225,000 straphangers using the L train to travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan every weekday, the MTA and DOT vow to: increase alternative subway service by at least 70 percent and make station improvements; expand bus and ferry service; add HOV restrictions on the Williamsburg Bridge; make a portion of Manhattan’s 14th Street a dedicated busway and more.
For 15 months starting in April, the L train will only run between Bedford Avenue and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn. Service to Manhattan will be suspended to rehabilitate the Canarsie Tunnel, which goes under the East River and was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
After reviewing the MTA’s mitigation plan for the L train shutdown, Brooklynite Jaime Getto felt the plan “wouldn’t cut it,” so she and some friends began thinking about ways to get to Manhattan during the suspension.
“We were thinking of doing a shuttle for ourselves and people in our building, but continuing to dig deeper into the numbers this is affecting, we decided to open it up to the public,” Getto explained.
And The New L was born.
Trying to tackle the L train shutdown
For a $155 flat monthly fee, a luxury 14-passenger van, complete with Wi-Fi and breakfast bars, will pick The New L customers up at their home and drop them off near their Manhattan destination.
“We’re taking existing vehicles that are underutilized, so we’re putting them to work, not going out buying vehicles nor will we ever own a vehicle,” Getto said. “We’re partnering with existing taxi and limo companies that are having trouble since Uber and Lyft.”
The New L, which will only operate Monday through Friday during the L train shutdown in the areas affected by it, has “tons of organic sign ups so far, still a nominal portion of the affected population,” Getto said, and made clear it aims to “fill a gap, not replace the MTA.”
“What I would say time and time again is that I hope the MTA comes out and is able to offer more buses and we can cease operation,” she added.
Thirty days after The New L launches in April, it will roll out, for a TBA price, “microtransit” shuttles to the next closest subway. Within 90 days of launch, it will think about trips from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
“Right now we’re focused on getting to work,” Getto said. “At this point, we’re collecting desired drop-off times in the city, pick-up locations, drop-off locations, and collecting rider signups so we have enough data points to build efficient routes.”
The MTA has not yet responded to a comment request regarding The New L.
For more info, visit thenewl.com.