Fresh L: MTA drops more details about ‘disruptive service’ during looming repairs to subway

On the night train! Bedford L station as busy at 1 am as it is at rush hour
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s still going to be a bumpy ride.

State transit officials on Wednesday dropped more details about the service changes and alternative-transportation options straphangers will find once repairs to the beleaguered L train begin in two months.

And the new plan to shore up the line’s superstorm Sandy–ravaged Canarsie Tube — which now calls for night and weekend work to fix one of its two East River–spanning tunnels at a time, leaving the other free for trains to travel the subway’s entire route — will still wreak havoc on commuters, though not as badly, according to the head of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“We’ll be able to maintain service, but it will be a disruptive service,” Ronnie Hakim told a select group of reporters during a phone call, according to an amNewYork report.

Work on the silver bullet’s East River-spanning Tube is still slated to begin on April 27 as previously planned — but instead of not running subways to Manhattan for 15 months, trains will run the full line every 20 minutes on nights and weekends once the big fix begins, with decreased weeknight service starting as early as 8 pm, two hours before one of the tunnels closes for repairs at 10 pm, according to the reporters on the call.

The L’s First and Third avenue stations in Manhattan, however, may be made “exit only” stops on weekends in order to mitigate overcrowding expected on the line’s platforms.

Trains on nearby subway lines, including the G, M, and 7, will run more frequently to mitigate the slower L service, but officials will no longer add more cars to lengthen G trains as they planned to do during the full shutdown, according to reports. The agency is also weighing a plan to run a bus shuttling straphangers between the Bedford Avenue L stop and the J, M, and Z trains at Marcy Avenue station during the repairs.

And authority chiefs confirmed they will nix the planned High Occupancy Vehicle lane across the Williamsburg Bridge, which would have been reserved for cars carrying three or more passengers during an undetermined rush-hour window.

Officials hope the massive project will wrap within 15 to 20 months once it kicks off, but have yet to announce a final timeline, according to reports.

News of the new details came weeks after the authority gave commuters a little taste of L — for the second time — when it suspended the subway’s weeknight service between Bushwick and Manhattan for eight weeks straight starting Jan. 27. And in addition to the weeknight closures, previously announced mini-shutdowns will stop full L-train service on weekends through March — including on Feb. 15–19, Feb. 22–25, March 1–4, March 8–11, and March 15–18, when no trains will run between Manhattan and Broadway Junction from 10:45 pm on Fridays until 5 am on Mondays. Full L train service will also be suspended on Monday, Feb. 18, President’s Day, as part of the line’s closure that weekend.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.