Packed Like Sardines!

Some Things Never Change!

Retro GL LL 01aThirty years ago in the August 1985 issue of GREENLINE the front page ran the “Packed Like Sardines” headline. If anything has changed on the topic of the crowded L train, it’s that it might even be a tighter fit.  Although, the L train lost half of its 1967 service designation (i.e., LL); it has nearly doubled its ridership since 1998. Another sardine can affirming stat is: the Bedford Avenue station has seen a 250% increase of foot traffic in the past 17 years.  It is currently tallied that 300,000 ride the L train on an average weekday.

Retro GL LL 02 web
Bedford L-train platform du jour (altered version of a photo taken by Bryan Smith for the New York Daily News in 2013)

Looking ahead, the lack of elbow room will continue to persist due to the rezoning of around 10,000 new residential units near the Bedford Avenue stop.  Last December Carmen Bianco, president of the NYC Transit division, said, “We have to increase capacity on the Canarsie Line and improve customer flow at stations to meet this increasing demand.” This was the reasoning behind the MTA’s request of $300 million from the federal government to upgrade L-train stations.

Some of this money would make it a lot easier to enter and exit the sardine can. At the Bedford Avenue station the entrance stairs are presently 5-feet wide.  A proposed plan offers two additional 7-feet-wide entrances plus would more than double the size of the stair space that leads up from the platform.

As for the delays of yore, that has changed a bit for the better on the L-train. Although, delays or shutdowns due to “Planned Service” occur on occasion, in general the L-train has had a better than average track record in the last few years compared to other MTA lines.

Subway Study Shows LL Line Dangerously Overcrowded!

Retro GL LL 01b web
Train illustration from original article appearing on 08/15/85

By Greenline | August 15, 1985

The Transit Authority has consistently ignored the Canarsie LL line, resulting in “extreme crowding,” according to a Brooklyn subway study issued last month by Borough President Howard Golden.

The request called for the T A to run additional LL rush hour trains. Present rush hour service on the LL is half of what it was 30 years ago, and only 40 percent of its potential service, the study said.

The subway analysis also cited the Fulton Street (A and CC) lines for overcrowding. The worst on-time performance was recorded on the Brighton, Broadway, West End, and Sea Beach lines with 50 percent or more of the trains running later than scheduled.

“The Brooklyn Subway Study” was prepared by the Graduate Centers of the City University of New York. In the spring of 1985, observers from CUNY spent 56 hours during morning and afternoon rush hours recording arrival and departures of 1,187 subway trains and the condition of the vehicles. Information was collected at seven subway stations, covering all of the routes that serve Brooklyn.

Sixty percent of the LL trains were so crowded that people were not able to enter them during rush hours, almost double the percentage of the next most crowded train-the A.

The LL line rated the worst passenger density of any of the 16 lines studied. Density codes ranged from 1: “Train nearly empty” to 5: “people not able to enter train.” The LL line scored 4.55. In contrast the GG line rated the lowest density: 2.11.

The LL and GG lines had the highest percentages of trains with faulty lights: 64 and 59 percent respectively.

“This survey should not surprise transit riders who on a daily basis have complained of horrendous delays of crowding on subways.” said Golden.

The Borough President called for extensive upgrading of equipment inspection” and “revamping of schedule and operating procedure to meet peak rush hour demands.”

L train stats July

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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