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L Train Service Between Brooklyn & Manhattan May Be Shut Down For Years

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L Train Service Between Brooklyn & Manhattan May Be Shut Down For Years  
BY CHRISTOPHER ROBBINS IN NEWS ON JAN 13, 2016 1:42 PM
 

 

150518SubwayCrowding.jpg 
(Michael Semensohn/Flickr)

 

Governor Cuomo’s announcement last week that 30 subway stations would be completely closed for months at a time in order to properly “revamp” them was greeted with groans by riders. But a disruption of epic proportions potentially looms for New Yorkers who rely on the L train to get in and out of Manhattan.

Like the R train’s Montague Tube, the L train’s Canarsie Tube was flooded with saltwater and severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The Montague Tube was shut down and repaired in 13 months—one month and $58 million under budget—while riders found other ways to get to work.

The project to repair the Canarsie Tube is projected to take three years, and the MTA is considering shutting down service between Manhattan and Brooklyn entirely to get it done, according to MTA sources familiar with the initiative. In this scenario, Manhattan-bound L service would terminate at Bedford Avenue, the line’s busiest station.

More than 300,000 New Yorkers ride the L train on an average weekday. When the Montague Tube was damaged by Hurricane Sandy it had 65,000 daily riders.

Another option being weighed is to keep one of the two tunnels open while repairing the other—there are separate Manhattan-bound and Brooklyn-bound tunnels—leaving room for limited service.

“If one tunnel is down, how bad will the L train be in the mornings just going one way?” one source says. “It’ll be packed beyond belief. It’ll be a fight. Is that the smartest way to do it if it’s going to be the difference of a year? I don’t know.”

In either case, to get L train riders where they need to go, the MTA is planning on increasing M train service, adding two cars to G trains, and running a system of shuttle buses; the sources say that the tunnel work is slated to begin in late 2017. A bid outline for the tunnel repairs that was made public last year stated that the work would cost “OVER $50 million” and that the contract would last 40 months. The Montague Tube cost the MTA $250 million. Tunnel repairs are covered by Sandy relief funds from the federal government.

 

11315Tube.jpg 
The Canarsie Tube after the MTA pumped out the saltwater that flooded it during Hurricane Sandy (MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann)

 

“Unfortunately we all knew this day would eventually come on the Canarsie line, because this is, once again, the legacy of Sandy,” says Richard Barone, the Director of Transportation Programs for theRegional Plan Association.

“It really depends on how quickly it takes the MTA to get the job done versus the severity of the shutdown. So if they can get it done in a year, but they have to shut both tunnels down, it’s one thing. If it takes them three or four years to do it, and they have to alternate shutting down the tunnels, you have to question, which is better? Is it better to get it done faster but with massive disruption? Is it even possible to do that? Is there an another alternative that these folks can take to get to Manhattan for work?”

Dr. Robert Paaswell, an engineering professor at City College of New York and Director Emeritus of theUniversity Transportation Research Center, believes that a complete shutdown is the wisest course of action, and likened it to Governor Cuomo's announcement to take "30 stations put them out all at once, design build whole new station, let people walk in there and say, 'Wow, this is the MTA.'"

(Or in the MTA's words, "get in, get done and get out.")

"[Cuomo's] absolutely right," Paaswell said. "That’s the way to do it."

“You’re going to have to take some lumps, people are going to be inconvenienced—get it done as quickly as possible, then reopen with a new system,” Paaswell says. “I hate to be hard about it—that’s why I’m not the head of the MTA, because I don’t have to make that decision—but if I were, I would get it done as quickly as possible.”

Paaswell, who was the executive director for the Chicago Transit Authority from 1986 to 1989, argued that a one-tunnel system wouldn’t be able to handle the line's growing ridership.

“You’re doing one track at a time, all of a sudden you have a summer thunderstorm and the track floods or a signal goes down and you have no tracks and that was the only option and people haven’t even thought of other ways to get around, and you’re screwed,” Paaswell says.

Either way, the MTA is going to have to get “very creative,” according to Barone: "There isn’t really much redundancy here except for a portion of the M."

Barone suggested networks of bus services that “mirror” the Canarsie line, installing express bus lanes on bridges, and telecommuting as possible ways to alleviate the strain. "Are there other things you can do to help with demand?" Barone wonders. "Maybe management kind of shifts people to work other times of day, to get them to kind of actually work at home a few days a week? There’s other options out there."

Ferries would only have a limited impact, Barone says, “because you have to get people to the ferry. It’s really a waterfront to waterfront type of mode.”

“Once you look at all these, all these individual mitigation measures, you add them up and say, well, is there still a deficit? If there is still a significant deficit, then you have to say, we can’t really shut it down completely,” Barone said.

Both experts compared the MTA’s dilemma to that facing New York, New Jersey, and the federal government over the tunnels under the Hudson River, which are in dire need of repair that will likely cut their train capacity by three quarters.

“It shows that the lack of investment in infrastructure over the last thirty, forty years is really hurting the city now,” Paaswell says.

 

11315cuomo.jpg 
Governor Cuomo at the Transit Museum, announcing the closure of 30 subway stations for months at a time in order to facilitate repairs (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

 

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said that shutting down the Canarsie Tube entirely "is one of several options that we’re considering."

"On the one hand [with] Montague, which has lower ridership and abundant redundant options around there, we were able to close it down with relatively little customer impact. The ability to get in get it done and get out was a huge factor in being able to do it with as little pain as possible for our customers," Lisberg said.

"At the other end, right now we’re doing dozens of weekend closures to do Sandy repair work on the A/C/E and F lines because those under-river tunnels were both damaged in Sandy and need work as well. It’s frustrating for people who use those stations on the weekends, we know, but we decided that that was still preferable to doing full shutdowns on those kinds of tubes. So somewhere in the middle of those, we have to deal with Canarsie."

Lisberg could not comment specifically on how the MTA would get customers where they need to go in the event of a complete shutdown. "Anything and everything will be on the table," he said. It also wasn't immediately clear if the federal relief funding can be used towards mitigating the impacts of a shutdown.

According to Barone, the ideal situation will allow the MTA to simultaneously repair the Canarsie Tubeand knock out $300 million in upgrades to the line, including new entrances on Avenue A and Bedford Avenue, and three power substations, allowing for two additional trains every hour.

“The problem I think that people have today, is that they don't really believe that it will be done [in three years],” Barone says. "People were surprised with the Montague. That happened better than people thought, earlier than people thought. If they deliver the Second Avenue Subway in December of 2016 as they promised, if they start delivering things when they say they're going to deliver them, then people have confidence. If the MTA keeps showing that it can get things done on time, then people might be okay with that, if you couple it with: we're giving it back to you better than we took it away."

Lisberg said that while nothing had been finalized, "The logical thing to do is to piggyback the station work and the elevator work and the substation work on the Sandy work, so we absolutely will be combining that work as much as possible so we can minimize the impact on our customers. We will make sure it all gets combined as much as possible."

 
Contact the author of this article or email tips@gothamist.com with further questions, comments or tips.

 

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On the facebook group we're having a debate there on what they would do because if i'm not mistaken in this project won't they also close down 1st ave to make it ADA compliant and what could the service pattern be (L) bedford to canarsie (cutting off manhattan) or a split side of service, if the manhattan end is cut off would there be increased M14 service to 8th ave?

Edited by BreeddekalbL

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This is a great plan. I hate williamsburg and bushwick. 

300k displaced riders. This should be interesting.

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So in another article, they mention that the (G) train will be lengthened to 6 cars.Nothing major right?

 

However DJHammers did his homework...

 

Dj Hammers ‏@DjHammersTrains 4h4 hours ago

@2AvSagas @ChristRobbins Somewhat confused on how G trains will be extended by 2 cars... R68/As are in permanent 4 car sets...

How the hell are they going to pull this off?

is there a big swap with the (A) (which the 2 car R46 are assigned to) forthcoming?

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An increase length of (G) trains I doubt will do anything to help (L) riders. I can't really see (M) service increasing that much because it shares tracks with the (E)(F)(J) and (R) and the (E) and (F) are very frequent as it is. This indeed will be very interesting when it happens.

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So in another article, they mention that the (G) train will be lengthened to 6 cars.Nothing major right?

 

However DJHammers did his homework...

How the hell are they going to pull this off?

is there a big swap with the (A) (which the 2 car R46 are assigned to) forthcoming?

They probably would just put the R32s on the (G), the article says they plan to start this G.O at the end of 2017, the 179 order should be ongoing at that point so they would have some cars to spare...

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If they do the 6 car 75 footers then they'll have to put R46's back on the (G) but I think it should be full length 600 foot train, as for the (M) getting extra service its doable, I heard about this (L) shutdown plan about a year ago, it was rumored that the (J) and (Z) would have increased service as well, (adding 3-4 more (Z) trains) during the rush hour

This is why they want to do the (M) GO first

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Lisberg said that while nothing had been finalized, "The logical thing to do is to piggyback the station work and the elevator work and the substation work on the Sandy work, so we absolutely will be combining that work as much as possible so we can minimize the impact on our customers. We will make sure it all gets combined as much as possible."

 

Bingo.

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Do you see the insane crowds at 23rd/Court Square on the WTC-bound E platform once all the G riders arrive at 9am weekday mornings?  The E is at capacity as it is - it can't handle all the displaced passengers who'd take the G to the E.  Doubt that passengers would detour on the G all the way to Hoyt-Schermerhorn for the A/C unless they worked in lower Manhattan.  Therefore, they'd walk to the nearest J/M stop instead.  You'd need to increase the J service, as the M is limited by the Queens Blvd capacity issue, and the J can run a lot more trains.

Edited by RtrainBlues

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Naturally, they would have to increase G service....Just short turn the extra trains at Bedford-Nostrand.

 

Yes, J and M service would have to increase.....in particular, the M, since I reckon lots of people will transfer at Myrtle-Wyckoff. You'll have people backtracking taking a Canarsie-bound L to get to the M.

 

I personally would have split M service--one going to Continental and the other going to Broad Street--in order to maintain increased TPH without disrupting 6th Av.


Do you see the insane crowds at 23rd/Court Square on the WTC-bound E platform once all the G riders arrive at 9am weekday mornings?  The E is at capacity as it is - it can't handle all the displaced passengers who'd take the G to the E.  Doubt that passengers would detour on the G all the way to Hoyt-Schermerhorn for the A/C unless they worked in lower Manhattan.  Therefore, they'd walk to the nearest J/M stop instead.  You'd need to increase the J service, as the M is limited by the Queens Blvd capacity issue, and the J can run a lot more trains.

 

I would increase the M rather than the J--have the extra M trains turn at Broad st, like the brown M of old. 

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Do you see the insane crowds at 23rd/Court Square on the WTC-bound E platform once all the G riders arrive at 9am weekday mornings?  The E is at capacity as it is - it can't handle all the displaced passengers who'd take the G to the E.

 

The (M) stops there too, though. And since it's local, it'll be a lot less crowded.

 

Doubt that passengers would detour on the G all the way to Hoyt-Schermerhorn for the A/C unless they worked in lower Manhattan. 

 

Which probably represents a decent chunk of (L) riders.

 

Needless to say, they're going to have to implement some type of free transfer from the (G) to the (M). Between the existing Greenpoint riders taking the (G) to the (L), and the new riders who would have to do so, you can't accommodate all of them on the B48.

 

Expanding the ferry service would help a little bit, but only for the people living near the waterfront. And there's no way you could run those ferries frequently enough to match the capacity of a subway line. Shuttle buses going over the Williamsburg Bridge & through the QMT, once again, same capacity issues. 

 

The (J)(M)(Z) and connecting buses will probably take up most of the capacity, with the remaining riders taking the (G) or B32/62 over to the (E)(M)(7). And then the remaining handful taking ferries, or if somebody starts up some kind of express bus from Bushwick or Williamsburg, taking that. 

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Just speculation, but:

-If they want to lengthen the (G), they might have to change out the R68/As for a different car class.

-Increasing service on the (M) won't work if it runs on Queens Blvd.  They would have to resurrect the (brownM) and send it along Nassau.

-If for whatever reason they chose to send it back to Bay Pkwy, then obviously they would have to restore the connection to Montague Tunnel.

 

Any way you slice it, it's gonna be a mess. 

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Just speculation, but:

-Increasing service on the (M) won't work if it runs on Queens Blvd. They would have to resurrect the (brownM) and send it along Nassau.

Queens-bound (M) service can be increased in the morning rush hour. There are far more (M) trains headed towards Brooklyn in the morning than there are in the other direction because of the demand on the Queens Blvd. Line. The (M) undoubtedly will be the most desired line to replace the (L) since it directly connects to 14th St., and diverting some trains to the Nassau Line would make it less appealing. Edited by West End

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6 is the stop marker used for 5 car sets of 60 foot cars/4 car sets of 75 foot cars. If you prohibit 6 car sets of R32/R42s from the line, you can place 6 car markers in positions with only 300 feet of platform behind it, instead of the 360 feet normally required to platform 6 cars. 

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6 car R46 trains also have significant issues. You'd need to split some 4 car sets to get enough pairs to run the G, Even more would need to be split if the G is to run more frequently, which is probably necessary. Furthermore, the stop positions on the G were changed fairly recently. I would be surprised if many stations still had proper stop positions for 6 car 75 foot trains


I strongly suspect that we will see 600 foot trains on the G. 

Edited by Art Vandelay
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I wouldn't get your hopes up for R32s on the G line unless this is changed.

 

QRQ9IC1.png

 

 

^^Probably because of the C/R position or OPTO service.

 

If it just has to do with OPTO, they could also just operate the G without OPTO for the duration of this rather extensive GO

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6 car R46 trains also have significant issues. You'd need to split some 4 car sets to get enough pairs to run the G, Even more would need to be split if the G is to run more frequently, which is probably necessary. Furthermore, the stop positions on the G were changed fairly recently. I would be surprised if many stations still had proper stop positions for 6 car 75 foot trains

 

 

I strongly suspect that we will see 600 foot trains on the G. 

Are there enough cars to go around for a 8 car (G) train?

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6 car R46 trains also have significant issues. You'd need to split some 4 car sets to get enough pairs to run the G, Even more would need to be split if the G is to run more frequently, which is probably necessary. Furthermore, the stop positions on the G were changed fairly recently. I would be surprised if many stations still had proper stop positions for 6 car 75 foot trains

 

 

I strongly suspect that we will see 600 foot trains on the G. 

 

The G runs 13 trains in the morning rush, and there are 13 sets of A-A R46s currently, no? You'd have to do some wonky stopping stuff to avoid making the old signs for passengers redundant and stick a 2-car set onto a 4-car stuff, but it's not physically impossible. Equipment-wise, the Rockaway shuttle is already often comprised of 4-car sets of R46s, and the A-A pairs on the A could easily be moved. By the looks of it, most G stations still have boards labeled 8-car stop and "4-car R46" C/R boards hanging. 

Edited by MHV9218

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