We are now officially in L-train slowdown mode for the next 15-18 months.
On Friday evening, the MTA started its service reduction to repair the Sandy-damaged tubes between Manhattan and Brooklyn, ramping down L times to 20-minute waits starting at 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. during the week and around the clock on weekends. (Here's the MTA press release on it.)
The slowdown's debut on Friday received so-so to negative reviews, based on various published reports and social media accounts.
Jake Offenhartz has a nice recap of the first night — featuring broken arrival clocks and hour-long waits for trains — over at Gothamist.
Here's a quick overview:
For many of the city's regular L riders — a group that numbers 400,000 on a normal day — the reality underground was a far cry from the governor's description of "service that would still work." In Union Square, crowds were penned in along barricades on the mezzanine level, in some cases waiting to board an open train that wouldn't arrive for close to an hour. Transit workers, stationed across the system in large numbers, practically begged customers to make use of the increased service on the M, G, and 7 lines, or the free transfers on the M14A/D and Williamsburg Link buses.
Those who did stay encountered extended waits not only inside stations, but on unmoving trains as well. The dwell times seemed especially bad at Union Square, where the MTA's interlocking system means that Brooklyn-bound service must wait for a passing train to arrive before switching over to the shared track, in order to avoid the construction area between 3rd Avenue and Bedford.
"It's worse than I thought," said Alfredo Fernando, a dish-washer at a restaurant near Union Square.
Transit reporter Vin Barone has his recap for amNY here. As he notes, the MTA's biggest challenge might be happening as you read this: making sure there isn't any lingering construction left to disrupt this morning's commute.
“[We] are aware of how critically important it is to have that smooth transition so that at 5 a.m. we can start back in service,” said Ronnie Hakim, the MTA’s managing director, during a trip along the L line on Sunday. “We do this. We know how to do it. It’s a function of working out all the kinks.”
You can also find coverage at the Times, who was more sympathetic in its tone with a headline: "First Weekend Disruption Is Frustrating, but Not Disastrous."
By Saturday, the L-train situation had mostly righted itself. Christopher Robbins at Gothamist explored one of the alternative methods touted by the MTA to get around — the M14 — on Saturday afternoon. "And while there were definitely more M14 buses, there is nothing to save them from getting stuck in the miserable traffic that clogs 14th Street. It took us 47 minutes to get from Grand Street on the Lower East Side to 8th Avenue and 14th Street."
Help may be on the way. In June, the city plans to convert 14th Street into a busway from Third Avenue to Ninth Avenue with very limited access to car traffic.
Look how many buses are trapped on 14th Street! Ugh.— Thomas DeVito (@PedestrianTom) April 27, 2019
Seeing it in person just makes me more 😡 that a few cranks in the West Village almost succeeded in dictating the policy response to the #LTrainSlowdown
Now let’s activate this busway, please. #Peopleway @TransAlt pic.twitter.com/NU3hXxu9v6
Now to a few other observations related to the slowdown...
The MTA is stockpiling extra M14s on the east side of Avenue A between 11th Street and 13th Street ...
This means no parking/or standing along here for the foreseeable future... from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, and all weekend long...
The MTA also has extra buses at the ready on the east side of Third Avenue between 12th Street and 14th Street...
This also means no parking on this side of the Avenue ...
Meanwhile, the SBS bus services starts in June... and more ticketing machines have been unveiled... on the north side of 14th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue...
... and the east side of Avenue A between Fifth Street and Sixth Street...
Anyone have any L-train stories to share from this past weekend?