When the M train is shut down for major repairs beginning this summer, most residents in Ridgewood and surrounding areas who rely on the line will need to use shuttle buses to connect to other trains.
However, as the clock ticks toward the start of the project that will shut portions of the M line down for 10 months, members of Community Board 5 (CB 5) aren’t very confident that the MTA’s contingency plans will be enough to keep people moving. CB 5 members had plenty of questions on May 10 for New York City Transit (NYCT) regarding the free shuttle bus service that will transport the people of Middle Village, Ridgewood and other areas while the train is out of commission.
Phase 1 of the project, which will replace the bridge that goes over the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Montauk Line between Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue will kick off on July 1 and is expected to last two months and be wrapped up by Sept. 1. Phase 2 will demolish and replace the concrete viaduct linking the Myrtle Avenue Line with the Broadway Line and will take eight months and is planned begin on Sept. 2 and finish on April 30, 2018.
While the M train is down, the MTA will run three separate free shuttle bus routes to move passengers to active train stations where they can make connections during Phase 1, and a single free shuttle bus from Myrtle/Wyckoff to Myrtle/Broadway during Phase 2.
The first Phase 1 route will begin at Fresh Pond Road and terminate at Myrtle/Broadway. The second route will run between Metropolitan Avenue and Myrtle/Broadway, while the third route will start at Metropolitan Avenue and end at Flushing Avenue.
During this time the M train will be extended to Broadway Junction, and the J and Z trains will be making all local stops.
The board, however, had some additional suggestions.
Vincent Arcuri, Chairperson of CB 5, made it clear that there will need to be additional service on the Q55 in order to service the residents who would usually take the M train in Ridgewood to the Myrtle/Wyckoff station.
“Currently the Q55 bus service is underserved,” Arcuri explained. “So for people in Glendale and Ridgewood going to the L train — that’s an east-west movement rather than north-south — will need additional bus service on the 55 route. I think you must do that. It is a must.”
Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business District (BID), asked if the Q55 could become articulated buses to increase the number of passengers that can board the bus.
Many board members were concerned with the number of shuttle buses that will be running and if they could take the load of expected passengers.
“We have done some studies as far as the loads that the train usually carries and we think that those headways will be sufficient enough to help people,” said Matt Cool from NYCT. “I mean, there certainly will be a little bit of waiting in line, there’s no doubt, but the buses will be moving quickly and we’ll be loading them as fast as we can.”
NYCT will also be monitoring the shuttle buses and the operations in order to make adjustments on the fly as the projects progress, and there will be traffic agents in place at several intersections along the routes to keep traffic flowing.