The J, M and Z subway lines in Williamsburg have become victims of the neighborhood’s success, exploding with a 24-percent increase in passengers in just four years, new data show.
The growth in ridership — which mirrors the earlier explosion of congestion on the L line — has translated to overcrowding, longer wait times, and pissed-off commuters.
“The train takes forever sometimes, and if it’s raining or snowing you can forget about any train coming on time,” said Williamsburg resident Erica Sackin, who said that 20-minute wait times are common, even during the morning rush.
Over the past four years, the JMZ has experienced some of the city’s most rapid growth, up 21 percent, to 105,000 riders on an average weekday, from 86,000 riders in 2005.
The lines’ 33.1 million annual riders is up 24 percent over the same four-year period — the result of intense residential growth in and around the Southside of Williamsburg, with increases in both the Hasidic and the hipster communities.
And planners believe that the neighborhood will see 25,000 new residents within the next few years, residents who will often ride the JMZ line.
The numbers are already going up. The Marcy Avenue stop, is already among the top-third busiest stations in the city. Compared with last year, ridership at the stop is up 3.4 percent. The Hewes Street stop is up 6 percent and the Flushing Avenue stop, steps from busy Woodhull Hospital, is up 4.8 percent.
Those increases have led to normal delays. And when a real disaster happens, such as when a train went out of service on the Williamsburg Bridge on Monday morning, passengers have to walk dozens of blocks to another line or take the B-39 bus over the bridge — though that bus line is slated to be eliminated by the MTA due to alleged budget shortfalls.
Commuter Emily Gallagher, who waited on the Marcy platform for nearly an hour without hearing the service announcement, saw buses stuff so tightly that commuters were standing in their doorways.
Transportation advocates, such as Transportation Alternatives’ Wiley Norvell thinks that commuting conditions will worsen, even though at this point, the JMZ route has absorbed population increases better than the L train.
“Ridership is growing at a steady clip and what that translates to is overcrowding that affects delays. When you couple rising ridership with cuts to service, you get the worse of both worlds: a lot of delays and overcrowding for straphangers,” said Norvell.