Transit activists and L train riders gathered on the City Hall steps on Tuesday to demand that the city implement a 24/7 transit plan during the scheduled L train shutdown.
Members of the Riders Alliance, Regional Planning Association, Transportation Alternatives, Straphangers Campaign and Tri-State Transportation Campaign were present, calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to enact a 24/7 busway on 14th Street.
This service would provide a necessary transportation alternative to those who rely on the L train during the 15 months the subway line will be shut down, activists said.
If even just a small portion of those L train riders rely on private cars for their commutes during the shutdown, it would cause “gridlock like New York City has never seen before,” said John Raskin, executive director of Riders Alliance, on the steps of City Hall.
Fifty thousand people currently ride the L train along 14th Street every day in Manhattan alone per MTA data, the transit groups said. They estimated that those riders would fit into about 400 bus trips along 14th Street.
.@PSteely with @RidersNY, @Straphangers and local residents calling for the most robust plan possible for buses/bikes/peds during the #LTrainShutdown. #PeopleWay @TransAlt @NYCSpeakerCoJo @NYCMayor @NYGovCuomo @KeithPowersNYC @CMReynoso34 pic.twitter.com/aWaCrleY65
— Thomas DeVito (@PedestrianTom) April 24, 2018
But if there is not a strong bus plan for that route while the L train is not running, it could cause as many as 42,000 extra vehicles, the transit groups estimated, to flood 14th Street, choking that road and the surrounding residential blocks with congestion.
This surge in vehicular traffic would quickly become a “nightmare scenario,” they warned. Members of the transit groups even called the possibility a “carpocalypse” and “Lmageddon.”
“If we don’t have a comprehensive plan to make shuttle buses seamless and easy to use, all day and all night, we’re looking at a year of pure misery on both sides of the river,” Raskin said in a statement. “L train riders and neighbors near 14th Street have the same goal: Let’s get as many people onto buses as possible, to help people get around town and rescue neighborhood streets from 15 months of gridlock and honking.”
Straphangers on the L who travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan total about 225,000, and if all those displaced riders took cars instead of the subway, “it would require building an additional three to four East River bridges with four to five travel lanes each,” according a Transportation Alternatives study on the shutdown.
“With the amount of people that we expect to be affected by the L Train shutdown, it’s crucial that the city and MTA implement an aggressive mitigation plan,” said Liam Blank of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, in a statement. “That plan must include a busway on 14th Street, and it’s time for the city to commit.”