Though the complete L train shutdown has been canceled, elected officials, transportation activists and employees of Citi Bike are calling on the city to keep in place L train mitigation plans, like bike lanes and a dedicated 14th Street busway.
When it was expected that the L train would be shut down for 15 months between Manhattan and Brooklyn, city officials offered additional traffic and transit options to help out the stranded straphangers.
Those mitigation plans included an exclusive busway on 14th Street, added pedestrian walkways, new bike lanes and a Citi Bike expansion.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that a complete L train shutdown was no longer necessary in the beginning of January. Though the MTA was silent on the sudden change of plans for a few days, the authority finally agreed, announcing on Jan. 18 that the shutdown was officially off.
But no officials have said what this turn means for these mitigation plans, and transit activists argue the changes are still necessary to ease traffic congestion, increase pedestrian and bike safety and make the city more accessible for all New Yorkers.
“Buses are critical for people with disabilities,” Assembly Member HArvey Epstein said at the Wednesday morning rally at 14th Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan. “They rely on our bus service. We need to make 14th Street more accessible for buses so we can move the city around.”
Officials took to calling the new situation an “L train slowdown,” rather than shutdown, specifically criticizing the M14 bus for its notorious snails’ pace.
Without L train shutdown, what’s the plan?
The L train will not be completely shuttered for 15 months, but straphangers will see service disruptions on nights and weekends. The new plan is to close one tunnel at a time, and run L trains in both directions on the other tunnel.
Some officials are concerned that this could cause cause long wait times for the next L train, leaving straphangers frustrated on the subway platform. Officials said the reduced service could mean 20 minute train headways, but a leaked draft memo said L train wait times could stretch to “40 minutes or more.”
“No rider should be on a platform for 40 minutes waiting for a train,” Sen. Brad Hoylman said at the Wednesday rally.
But not everyone wants the mitigation plans to stay in place. The 14th Street Coalition have said that the New Yorkers who live on that street are being ignored when it comes to transit concerns, and that the busway, bike lines and vehicle bans would make it nearly impossible to park or drive in that community.