The L-ternatives: What you need to know about the L train slowdown

No service: Transit leaders are halting service on the L train for 15 weekends, starting with this one, until April.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Call it an L of a year.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority begins its extensive L-train tunnel repairs starting April 26 with reduced service on the busy line expected for more than a year.

The subway line was originally supposed to shut down between Bedford Avenue and Manhattan for 15 months, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo called off the L-pocalypse last minute and unveiled a new plan that allows the trains and its 400,000 daily passengers to continue running, albeit with reduced frequencies due to repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

Commuters have already had to deal with full closures on several weekends and weeknights in March and April but now that the trains are slowing down for more than a year, here’s what L-train riders should know about their train and what alternatives the transit authority proposes.

What’s going to happen to the L?

The tunnel fixes will still take at least the same amount of time, lasting until sometime between June and September 2020.

The L train will continue to run its regular schedule on weekdays from 1:30 a.m. to 8 p.m, as well as weekend nights.

Reduced service will kick off the night of April 26 and continue on weeknights from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and weekends, with service reduced between Lorimer Street and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway to every 10 minutes and only every other train crossing the East River from Bedford Avenue to Manhattan every 20 minutes, due to the repairs.

But straphangers looking to travel between the boroughs may have to wait even longer because the trains could be too full to board the first time around, the city’s transit authority said on social media Tuesday, which could leave people stranded for 40 minutes or more if they don’t seek out other routes.

“In Manhattan and at Bedford Av, the L will arrive every ~20 minutes, but at certain times, it may be too crowded to board the first train,” the transit authority tweeted.

For this reason, transit honchos recommend commuters use alternative lines — some of which they said will have increased service during the slowdown, with different options available depending on where they currently get on and off the L train.

The L-lternatives

For Bedford Avenue and Lorimer Street stations commuters should head either to the Marcy Avenue and Hewes Street J and M stations, the latter of which will run every eight minutes instead of 10 during the day.

The authority has introduced new free bus services — the clockwise B91 and counterclockwise B92, known collectively as the Williamsburg Link — which connect these four stations and will run between every five to 10 minutes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weeknights and between every three and 10 minutes on weekends.

From the Lorimer Street L stop, straphangers can also switch to the Kensington-bound G, which will run every eight minutes instead of every 10 on weeknights and weekends, and connects to a newly-free transfer (with a MetroCard) from the Broadway G stop to the Lorimer Street or Hewes Street J and M stops.

Within this new transfer corridor, commuters can also take the G to Queens and transfer to Manhattan-bound 7 trains, which will have five additional trips on weeknights from 8:30 p.m. to midnight and will continue to run every four to seven-and-a-half minutes on weekends.

For the stations between Graham Avenue and DeKalb Avenue, L-train riders will have to make the trek to their nearest J or M stop, or they can take the Canarsie-bound L and transfer to the Manhattan-bound M at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station.

The city’s Department of Transportation is adding some new Citibike stations in Bushwick to make it easier for L train riders in that neighborhood.

Riders between DeKalb Avenue and Bushwick Avenue-Aberdeen Street station should still use the L — which will run every 10 minutes — and transfer to the M at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues.

Between Bushwick Avenue-Aberdeen Street and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway, straphangers can either transfer at Broadway Junction to the A, C, and J, or make the new free transfer and two-block walk from Livonia Avenue to the Junius Street 3-train station.

For more information on the L train construction project and to find out how to get around in Manhattan, visit the MTA’s website.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Getting around: The city’s transit authority recommends L-train riders use alternative subway lines and new free transfer buses (marked in pink) to get around the borough and across the East River during the tunnel repairs, which will result in slower service on the night of April 26 and will last for at least 15 months on weeknights and weekends.
New York City Transit Authority

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