Williamsburg Bridge reno, bus route changes, subway service reductions/additions, and fare hike
New year, new commuter changes will be thrust upon those wanting to come and go from North Brooklyn. However, commuter detours are nothing new to residents of the area; they have long-term experience in adjusting to major shifts in public transportation. The Williamsburg Bridge began its 21-year journey of renovation in 1991. Then there were L Train issues, first its overall bad reputation for delays in the 90s and before, then weekend shutdowns for signaling and train arrival clocks implementation, then Sandy, then the L Train tunnel closure. This community has learned to have a “don’t get too comfortable” attitude when it comes to transit.
The Williamsburg Bridge is up for another renovation. In November, it was announced that Skanska USA was awarded $167M contract by NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Williamsburg Bridge. The work on the bridge will entail structural steel repairs such as floor beams, trusses, and intermediate towers, also replacement of modular joints at anchorages and approach piers, in addition to the complete replacement of the bridge’s fire standpipe system and existing bridge asphalt overlay system. This work will impact weekend travelers who aim to take the J or M Trains. Both lines will be shutdown for an estimated 25 weekends between 2023 and 2024 (two weekends per month from May through October 2023 and from April through September 2024). It is also possible that pedestrians and cyclists will be affected as their respective paths may be closed on nights and weekends in 2023 and 2024. The project is scheduled to conclude in December 2025.
The B48 will be shortened and no longer have overnight service. The B62 will no longer include Manhattan Avenue and go straight down Bedford Avenue to turn left on McGuinness Boulevard; it will also have limited stops. The B69 will extend into North Brooklyn and travel through Williamsburg and Greenpoint, ending a stone’s throw from the Queens border. These are a selection of proposed changes in the Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign plan.
This is at the proposal stage and the DOT will accept public comments on the plan. Thus far, some of the concerns that have aired are for those with mobility issues who are very dependent on public transportation. For instance, if the B62 becomes a LTD route, it would result in spacing out stops approximately 1/3 mile or more. According to the MTA’s research, customers have requested more Limited Bus Service to make their longer trips faster. The other side of the coin is this extra distance would have a negative impact on the some in the community.
The draft of the plan can be previewed here: https://new.mta.info/document/101521/. The maps for the new routes and changes are found on pages 48–50. The DOT encourages the public to comment on the draft plan by visiting the Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign microsite at https://new.mta.info/project/brooklyn-bus-network-redesign and accessing their comment portal. They will host ZOOM meetings by area. The first meeting will occur on January 11 from 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. for those living in Williamsburg and Greenpoint: https://mta.zoom.us/j/87221443989?pwd=L014cXlGQittY2pML3pSNlk1UTVjdz09 . Scheduled meetings for other neighborhoods are listed in the chart on the Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign webpage. Residents of Bushwick will have their meeting on January 19.
Targeted service adjustments will be coming to subway schedules in June 2023 that are influenced by post-COVID travel patterns the MTA has observed.
“Subway ridership overall has been consistently lower on Mondays and Fridays than on mid-week days, reflecting the growing trend of hybrid office work,” stated the MTA press release.
Strategic reductions in service will affect several subway lines. For North Brooklyn, L Train riders will experience this Monday and Friday reduction. The silver lining to this cloud is the MTA states these reductions are necessary to add scheduled trips to the G, J, and M Trains on weekends; riders of these lines will experience lesser wait times between trains.
On December 21, the MTA Board approved the budget plan proposed at the end on November. This plan, “assumes the restoration of recurring biannual fare and toll increases, with 5.5% assumed in 2023,” stated the MTA’s press release. The 5.5% fare hike is proposed to go into effect in June 2023.
“I’ve been talking about the financial crisis facing the MTA for many months,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “The MTA’s plan balances the budget, while also preserving flexibility as to how we get there … we must find creative ways to stabilize the MTA’s finances, while supporting the region’s recovery.”