For the past two years doom and gloom were predicted for late April 2019 and the 18 months that would follow when the L Train would completely shutdown. Residents and businesses even relocated. When that plan changed from a total shutdown to weekend and evening slowdowns commuters maintained a dour skepticism, which was backed by logic-based visions of dangerously overcrowded platforms, longer wait times than the L Project’s promoted 20 minute intervals between trains, and unhealthy dust levels. These commuters have trust issues due to the sudden reversal and the lack of transparency concerning the nuts and bolts of the new process, the identity of the contractor, and cost of the new L Project. The weekend of April 26 through 5 a.m. on April 29th would be the first proof of the new L plan’s pudding.
Friday night, April 26 at 10 p.m. the new L train plan went into full effect. The results in a nutshell were long line-ups to get into the platform and some delays that put trains at 40-minute or 60-minute intervals. That is if you were on the platform and not on line waiting to get to the platform.
On Saturday, April 27 commuters were lined up in what looked like a cattle pen maze along North 7th between Driggs and Roebling and could only enter the at the Driggs entrances. This is an example of holding measures employed by the MTA to prevent crowding on the platforms. Travel got better as the weekend progressed, possibly because more commuters switched up to the alternate service routes instead of trying to take the L train.
These alternate services consist of: Williamsburg Link Buses B91 and B92, and added service on the G, M, and 7 trains, and M14 buses.
The Williamsburg Link Buses kept pretty much to their 3 minute intervals on the weekend’s prime travel time (8 a.m. to 10.p.m.). On Sunday, April 28, five B92 busses passed North 5th and Bedford Avenue between 6:01 p.m. and 6:11 p.m. The Link buses are free and connect commuters to the J,M, and G trains. As a special bonus Link buses have linked with business at their stops and when passengers board B91 or B92 they will receive special offers from those local business. For more information on the Williamsburg Link Buses visit: https://new.mta.info/l-project/service-alternatives/williamsburg-link-buses
With added service on the G, M, 7 trains and M14 buses, the MTA calculates that alternate services may yield commuters a faster trip. During busiest travel times M trains will run every 8 minutes; J trains will run every 10 minutes, G trains will run every 8 minutes, 7 trains will run every 4 minutes, and M14 will run every 4 minutes.
Also good to note are possible hiccups to your trip you may encounter. For instance not all L trains will run to Bedford Avenue or Manhattan from the Lorimer stop. It is advised to listen to announcements at this station before boarding a train. Other things to watch for are changed circulation patterns at stations where you’ll be directed to enter a station via one entrance, and exit via the other.
The MTA has several useful tools to tailor the best trip for their commuters or to help them while they are on their way. The L Project web page: https://new.mta.info/l-project is constantly being updated when there is new information. While there you can sign up for an email update, which will send information best suited to your usual L train commute: https://mta.us18.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=80933c2dc37752eeb9470b75f&id=ba3dd27f26
If text messages are more your thing you can sign up for text alerts: www.mymtaalerts.com/LoginC.aspx . If you encounter an issue in the midst of travel you can call 511 and say “subways” then “L train”. You could also Tweet @NYCTSubway with #LProject, or find an MTA team member with a pink button that says “Ask me about the L Project”.
By 4:30 a.m. on Monday, April 29 Andy Byford stated that the L train was ready to resume normal travel. However at 6 a.m. there was an issue (unrelated to the tunnel construction) that caused delays. This new phase of the L Project is expected to take 15 to 18 months, with penalties and incentives to encourage timely completion. Transit officials will be constantly monitoring the new service and work closely with partners such as NYPD and NYCDOT in order to ensure good operations.