Months after straphangers begged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to install an elevator at the Broadway Junction subway station, the Authority announced a plan — to install more stairs.
The transit agency on Feb. 21 unveiled its plan to build two new stairways at the Broadway Junction hub in Cypress Hills just outside Bushwick to accommodate an expected surge in displaced L-train commuters when officials cut that line off from Manhattan by closing its underwater Canarsie Tunnel, and some commuters are as skeptical as they are disappointed.
“I don’t know where they’re gonna put them. And what about handicap accessibility?” said Canarsie resident Michael Ien. “Come on. It’s not feasible to me.”
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority official told the Community Board 18 meeting that the new stairways will be needed at Broadway Junction to handle those Canarsie straphangers transferring from the truncated L line to the Manhattan-bound J and Z trains after the L’s Brooklyn–Manhattan tunnel closes in April 2019.
“The mezzanine to the J and Z gets congested,” the official said.
The L train will still run from Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie all the way to Bedford Avenue during the 15-month closure, and Broadway Junction is one of only two places on that route where commuters will be able to switch from the L to a Manhattan-bound line.
“We anticipate 70–80 percent of diverted L customers will use nearby subway lines, including the J and Z lines, with Broadway Junction as a major transfer point,” said an authority spokeswoman. “The additional stairs will help customer flow from the increased demand.”
But Ien has long argued that what Broadway Junction needs more than stairs is an elevator.
“First and foremost we need an elevator,” he said. “Someone who’s elderly can’t manage the stairs or escalator.”
And he’s not alone. A fellow Canarsie resident said an elevator is more ideal for the crowded station.
“An elevator would be better. It’s very high up,” said Judy D. Newton, referring to the station’s three stories’ worth of treacherously steep stairs.
Newton nonetheless said she’s happy the authority is adding stairs to reduce congestion.
“It should’ve been done a long time ago,” she said. “I think it will be safer for pedestrian traffic.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will make other improvements for Brooklyn’s L-train straphangers as well, including adding a new transfer to the 3 train. Commuters will be able to walk from the Livonia Avenue stop on the L line and hop the 3 line at Junius Street free of charge.
Some riders at the CB18 meeting worried about the effects of increased bus ridership during the shutdown. Gerard Brewster of East Flatbush pointed out that the B6 bus that takes people to the 2 and 5 train at Flatbush Avenue is already overcrowded.
“I’ve yet to see a plan for the B6 and BM2, and what will happen to people in Flatlands who take them west to the 2 and 5 trains,” he said.
Brewster said he wants to hear less about Williamsburg and the distant isle of Manhattan, and more about east Brooklyn at future Metropolitan Transportation Authority presentations to CB18.
“The community board is sort of a selfish thing. We wanna know about us over here,” he said.