When the L train shuts down next year for 15 months of repairs, Queens commuters can expect to find more crowding on other train lines — but also more frequent trains.
The MTA announced on Oct. 22 that it’s adding more than 1,000 roundtrips on seven subway lines during the L train shutdown. Additionally, it will extend weekend service on the M line — which emanates out of Middle Village — all the way through Manhattan via the Second Avenue Subway.
The L train closure centers around the Canarsie Tube that connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, which suffered significant damage during Hurricane Sandy. While the MTA made temporary repairs to restore service following the storm, the tube needs more extensive improvements, which necessitates the long-term shutdown.
When that tube closes, L trains on this side of the East River will be disconnected from Manhattan. Though still months away, the shutdown already has many Queens and Brooklyn residents who rely upon it concerned about getting around. Some 225,000 commuters use the L train every day.
In recent months, the city and MTA have announced various efforts to help accommodate the displaced riders and ease congestion in Manhattan. The plan includes shuttle bus service, a new ferry service between Williamsburg and Manhattan and high-occupancy vehicle limitations on the Williamsburg Bridge.
The latest cog in the L train contingency plan will boost service on subway lines which the MTA believes riders will use as alternate routes. This includes 62 additional roundtrips and increased peak-hour service on the M line, the closest alternative to the L train; it operates in a near loop between Middle Village and Forest Hills, passing through Lower and Midtown Manhattan along the way.
Moreover, the M line will be extended on overnights and weekends from its terminus at Essex Street in Lower Manhattan to 96th Street on the Upper West Side.
Additionally, the MTA will add 16 additional weekday roundtrips on the J/Z line between Jamaica and Lower Manhattan. That comes, however, at the cost of rush hour skip-stop service on the line between Broadway Junction and Marcy Avenue, as all trains will make all stops. Skip-stop service will remain in effect between Jamaica Center and Broadway Junction.
Transfers will be available on both the M and the J/Z lines to the G train between Long Island City and southern Brooklyn, which will also receive 66 additional weekday roundtrips during the L train shutdown.
Turning to Queens’ two express subway lines, the E and F between Jamaica and Manhattan, the MTA will add 26 additional weekday roundtrips on the E line and another 12 roundtrips on the F line. However, the MTA will eliminate three R line weekday roundtrips between Forest Hills and Brooklyn (via Manhattan) in order to accommodate the additional M train service.
One of Queens’ most crowded subway lines, the 7 train between Flushing and Manhattan, will also get a boost in weekday service, as the MTA will add 14 additional roundtrips. Meanwhile, the A line between Ozone Park/Rockaway and Manhattan will get a slight increase in service, with two daily roundtrips.
“The L tunnel reconstruction project will be the most impactful Superstorm Sandy-repair work we will undertake, and as such, we must ensure we have viable, reliable alternatives, particularly on the subways where we can accommodate the largest number of riders,” New York City Transit President Andy Byford said.
Byford noted that the MTA is going all out on this project to ensure there are plenty of ways for residents to get around via the subway line. The additional service, as noted in the announcement, will push “fleet, signal and track capacity to existing limits where feasible.”
The MTA is also conducting preventative maintenance and repairs on the affected subway lines to ensure the trains keep running without interruptions when they are needed the most.
When the Canarsie Tube closes, L line service will only run in Brooklyn, between Bedford Avenue and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway with reduced service. The MTA will cut 88 weekday roundtrips, 93 Saturday roundtrips and 53 Sunday roundtrips on the line.
Visit mta.info for additional information.