Transit honchos say they should have made a free transfer between two Brownsville subway stations a long time ago — but straphangers will still have to wait three years for it to happen, because the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority can’t afford it now.
The agency will stop charging riders who jump between the L train at Livonia Avenue and the 3 train at Junius Street — stations that are two blocks from one another — starting in 2019 to ease commutes as it closes the Sandy-damaged tunnels connecting the L train to Manhattan for repairs that year. Even the transit authority’s czar said the free transfer is long overdue.
“It should have been done before, I won’t argue that. It’s taken us scores of years to put that connection in place, but I agree with you — it should have been done before,” transit chairman Thomas Prendergast told Canarsians during a May 26 meeting explaining plans for the L train’s tunnels.
But the authority is paying for the transfer with federal tunnel-repair money it cannot spend until 2019, so riders will have to wait, spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. Officials have also set aside $45 million to build a walkway connecting the two stations, and the free transfer will be permanent once the connector is built, but they have not settled on a contractor or a start date, he said.
Transit officials have said that most people who switch at the two Brownsville stations use unlimited cards, but paying an extra $2.75 keeps riders from switching trains there, one annoyed Canarsian said.
“Just three or four days ago, it would have really helped me to take it. The thing that deterred me was the fact that I had to pay extra to make that transfer,” said Arun Aguiar. “Any free transfer is beneficial.”
The agency has two plans for repairing the Canarsie Tubes connecting the line to Manhattan — close both tunnels for 18 months of repairs or close one at a time for a total of 3 years. In either event, the train would continue to run locally in Brooklyn.