Broken Rails = Rush Hour L Hell

L Hell 02
Platform packed at Union Square at around 7pm due to delays and temporarily suspended service

On Sunday, February 22 a broken rail at Bedford Avenue caused some delays. That turned out to be a prelude to the havoc that was what in store for those wishing to travel on the L train the next day. Monday’s hell began around midday. An MTA spokesperson said in retrospect, “Signal problems first reported just before noon.”

Starting just before 3 p.m. on Twitter, tweets informed of problems with the L train in both directions.  However, the official word came from the MTA at 4 p.m. and said, “The signal problems have cleared. A broken rail was reported at 3:59 p.m. near Halsey St. Ls are running in two sections; 8 Av to Lorimer, and Rock Pkwy to Bway Junction. We are setting up shuttle buses for Bway Junction to Lorimer.”

As time progressed @NYPD LTrain reported broken rails at Wilson Avenue, Graham Avenue, and DeKalb Avenue.  Once nice thing about this subway mess is it brought out the ‘nice’ in people. Those coming up to the street from the stations would warn those descending the steps of the trouble, which could be a definition of altruism.

L Hell 01
Subway commuters move above ground from the Lorimer Street Station when the L train goes out of service due to a broken rail on Tuesday evening

At 7:27 p.m. @JasonDeWall tweeted, “#Ltrain you’re a lot like a hot air balloon. Usually I think you’re beautiful but when you go down in flames it’s agonizing inhumane horror.”  It had to be sometime after 8 p.m. when service saw any return to normalcy.

Those who travel on the L train are used to its issues.  Sometimes there’s no weekend or late night service, or it runs in sections. It is a rare L train commuter who hasn’t seen the inside of a shuttle bus.
“The MTA should distribute complementary Xanax to anyone forced to commute via the L Train. It’s the only way to quell a riot #ltrain,” tweeted @meghankathleen on February 24th.  Subway Stats, a website about the MTA subway that provides information on the current status for each train, rates the L Train with a 49% Uptime, which considers ‘Good Service’ only.

Since North Brooklyn has become more and more popular its seen its subway platforms get more and more crowded. When delays add masses to this volume it goes beyond unpleasant and verges on dangerous.  Tensions are high, people get pushed into, and you never know when or in what way someone will push back.

Delays and crowds are a self perpetuating cycle that affects all subway lines. Data released February 23rd pointed to the lack of basic manners when getting in and out of cars as being a contributor to a spike in delays. Weekday trains experienced overcrowding delays a staggering 14,843 times in December which is a 113% increase from 2013. Weekend subway treks fared worse in this data: Weekend trains delays because of overcrowding increased by146% compared to data collected in the previous year.

Such delays in service as encountered on February 23rd aren’t the best public relations to usher in a price hike of 25 cents to the base fare.  The increases are set to take effect March 22, almost a month to the day of this travel nightmare.  The 30-Day Unlimited card will increase to $116.50 and the 7-Day Unlimited card will then be $31.

However, transit advocates and MTA board members caution that this fare increase could be considered teensy compared to what might come in future if Albany doesn’t chip in. “If the state legislature and, in particular, Governor Cuomo do not come up with new revenue sources to fund the MTA’s five-year Capital Plan, today’s fare increase will be the first of larger ones around the corner,” said John Raskin, executive director of Riders Alliance.

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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