Who doesn’t like Mondays? The much-ballyhooed expansion of service on the L train — long sought by Billyburgers and Greenpointers — will start with the first rush-hour of the work week.
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, starting on Oct. 29, trains will run about three-and-a-half minutes apart — shaving 30 seconds off the current interval during the weekday morning rush. Service will also be expanded in mid-December when trains will run every six minutes instead of eight between 10:30 am and 3 pm, during the week.
New York City Transit is also adding L-train service on the weekends. On Saturdays, between 9 am and 7 pm, trains will run every five minutes, as compared to every six or seven minutes now. Sunday service will also be expanded.
It’s the largest expansion of service to a single subway line since 2004, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
And it’s long overdue. Since 1998, ridership on the L has increased by 48 percent, and straphangers say it is too crowded during rush hour, according to the MTA’s latest survey.
The changes could not be implemented until the MTA upgraded the line’s electronics.
“The old signal system prevented us from adding the amount of service necessary to meet demand,” said New York City Transit President Howard Roberts.
“Now, we can finally provide relief for our riders.”
Even sometimes-critical transit watchdogs Gene Russianoff, president of the Straphangers Campaign, said the planned increase in service is significant.
“This is more than window dressing,” Russianoff said. “Whether it’s enough, only time will tell. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are hot neighborhoods, so it might not be enough.”
Riders certainly don’t think it will be, as The Brooklyn Paper discovered after squeezing onto a packed L train at Lorimer Street on Tuesday morning and asked around.
“It’s horrible,” said Williamsburg resident Melisa Vargas. “It’s crowded, you have to wait forever. I guess it’s good that they’re adding trains, but I don’t think it would make a huge difference.”
Dace Morris, a Billyburger who works at a public relations firm in Manhattan, said he usually waits for the rush-hour crowds to dissipate before he starts his commute.
“It’s nearly impossible to get on a train between 7:30 and 9:15 because it’s too crowded,” he said.
For Morris, overcrowding is merely an inconvenience, but for silversmith Ryan Matthew, who lives in Greenpoint, it’s frightening.
“I’m claustrophobic, so I have to wait for two or three trains to go by just so I can get to Manhattan,” Matthew said. “I’ve lived in Greenpoint for three years and all the trains out here suck, but the L is the worst.”