Pols want more service for L train shutdown
by Benjamin Fang
Sep 18, 2018 | 1164 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the L train shutdown less than seven months away, local elected officials offered praise and some recommendations to the MTA for its mitigation efforts.

On Monday, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, standing blocks from the Bedford Avenue station in Williamsburg, announced that the MTA has agreed to run a fourth shuttle bus from Bedford Avenue to 14th Street in Manhattan.

The other three shuttles will run from Grand Street to 14th Street, Grand Street to SoHo and Bedford Avenue to SoHo. According to the congresswoman, 28 percent of L train users in Brooklyn will connect to 14th Street, and transfer to other buses or trains.

“That is a big improvement,” Maloney said. “We are thrilled to have this extra line for Brooklyn.”

Maloney also said she got word that the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) has approved the environmental impact statement for the L train shutdown, giving the closure a green light to move forward.

But the congresswoman said the MTA can still do more to meet the needs of 225,000 commuters who usually take the L train from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

On the waterways, the MTA plans to run eight ferries an hour between North 6th Street in Williamsburg to 20th Street in Manhattan. Maloney was concerned that wasn’t enough, and requested additional capacity to accommodate the demand.

On Monday, Maloney said she learned the MTA is working with the contractor to increase capacity from 149 to 240 passengers per boat. The MTA is also “prepared to use” three boats per hour, up from just two.

Getting to the ferries will still be a challenge. In Manhattan, a shuttle bus will take commuters from 14th Street to the 20th Street ferry stop. Maloney called on the MTA to add something similar for Brooklyn riders.

“We have written and called upon the MTA to give us a shuttle bus from the Bedford Avenue stop to the ferry,” she said. “So our residents will not have to walk that half-mile.”

Maloney advised L train riders to start planning their daily routes now, so they know what other subway, bus or ferry lines to take to reach their destination.

“We are dedicated to working with you on your plans before the L apocalypse hits,” she said.

Borough President Eric Adams said he’s focused on three main goals related to the L train closure. The first is encouraging Brooklyn residents to gather and use technology to give updates to each other.

Secondly, Adams wants the MTA to improve communication to riders, stores, schools and local organizations.

“You need to update people in real time,” he said. “They must have lines of communication that reaches every level and crevice of this community.”

Lastly, the borough president wants the MTA to run electric buses in Brooklyn, which will be done in Manhattan.

“We are just as concerned on the environmental issues of the overuse of buses on this side of the bridge,” he said.

State Senator Brian Kavanagh said to minimize the impact of the shutdown, all parties will need to get all of the routes and capacity issues right. He also echoed the borough president’s call to use electric buses in Brooklyn.

“We are seven months from this closure, and we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.

That work includes testing air quality before the routes are in place. Kavanagh also advised city and state agencies to work together to ensure “there’s no additional reasons to dig up these streets” once the routes are functional.

Most importantly, the state senator said alternative transit options should be in place before the shutdown begins.

Mary Odomirok, Maloney’s district representative and a member of the L Train Coalition, said the MTA was receptive to their observations and requests.

But she added that parents, especially those whose children go to school in Manhattan, remain concerned about getting across the bridge.

“The most important thing is, how do we get out of here? This is going to be a desert,” she said. “Everybody has some kind of life in Manhattan, whether you’re going to see a doctor or see a show.”
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