StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on the L Train Shutdown

StreetsPAC presented the following testimony yesterday to the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation, at its oversight hearing on the impending 2019 shutdown of the L train for repairs to the Canarsie tubes:

While the plan released yesterday by the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation is a significant step forward in addressing the transportation crisis that will be created by the 15-month shutdown of the Canarsie Tubes beginning in 2019, it needs to go farther.  Our hope is that this is merely an opening bid that will be revised and made stronger over the coming months.

For starters, we believe that buses running across the Williamsburg Bridge should have a dedicated, physically separated lane, discreet from trucks and turning cars. In order to move 70 buses with 3,800 passengers per hour across the bridge, they must be able to travel unencumbered by other vehicles.*

In addition, the bus approaches to the bridge must be dedicated and protected. While HOV3+ restrictions are absolutely necessary, we have deep concerns about enforceability of those restrictions, and would like to see a detailed enforcement plan.

Furthermore, we believe that occupancy restrictions on the bridge should be in place 24/7, as commuting patterns and timing will likely evolve during the shutdown.  The same is true for bus-only restrictions on the 14th Street “Core Busway,” which should be extended well beyond rush hours. We are certain to see major increases in for-hire vehicle traffic along the affected route, the effects of which will only be mitigated by dedicating space for much more efficient buses.

We also need to better understand how bus loading and, especially, unloading, will work. During peak traffic of 70 buses per hour, the potential for bottlenecks caused by passenger entrance and egress will be high. Will bus stops be extended along the route? What accommodations will be in place to speed passenger movement? This is an important detail.

The added ferry service and enhanced biking infrastructure outlined in the plan will help around the margins. However, we have deep concerns about the ability of the G, J, M and Z lines to absorb the 160,000 to 180,000 displaced regular L riders that the MTA and NYCDOT expect on those routes. While extended G trains and more frequent service will help, as will new free transfers and station enhancements, we’re skeptical about the ability of existing East River subways to fully accommodate the extra passengers. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the subway system hasn’t been working terribly well lately, without the huge added challenge of the L shutdown.

Speaking of station enhancements, the MTA should take this opportunity to make all stations affected by the shutdown ADA compliant. To not do so is a big missed opportunity.

We applaud what seems like a pretty significant plan for public outreach and engagement. That’s critical. The shutdown of the L train is going to cause significant hardship for many people for an extended period of time, and giving affected riders plenty of opportunity to weigh in, and vent, will help ease the pain.

And finally, the effects of the L shutdown would be additionally mitigated if we were to have a congestion-pricing plan in place. That needs to happen, and soon.

* Subsequent to our testifying at the hearing, we were informed by NYCDOT that due to structural issues on the Williamsburg Bridge, it would be impossible to dedicate a lane to buses without prohibiting truck traffic.

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment

StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.