(New York, NY - WNYC) Several New York City subway lines are at or above capacity. Relief is coming for some riders because of technology.
The chronically overcrowded L train, which connects Manhattan to Brooklyn's fastest growing neighborhoods, is now running 98 more times a week. The NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority just finished installing a new radio-based signal system that allows trains on the line to travel closer together and, as a result, more frequently.
Brooklyn Democratic District Leader Lincoln Restler, who joined elected officials at a press conference outside the Bedford Avenue stop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said it's about time. "The complaint I receive most frequently about quality of life for Williamsburg residents is L train service," he said. "It is terrible. We've been unable to fit onto trains for too long."
Ridership on the L train has grown 141 percent since 1998 because of a population boom in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the chosen enclaves of NYC's hipster set and more recently, a hub of new condo construction. It's not unusual for riders during the morning rush to let a packed train pass because there's no room to board it.
The NY MTA announced a plan to increase service on the line eight months ago, which led to a squabble with its largest union over why the new schedule would take so long to implement.
Riders will now see 16 more trains on weekdays and 18 more trains over the course of a weekend.
The MTA says, during the morning rush, customers can shave 30 seconds off their wait with trains now arriving every 3 minutes. Non-rush hour weekday riders, as well as Saturday night revelers, can expect a train every six minutes, down from 7 ½ minutes. And Sunday evening straphangers can expect a train every 6 minutes, down from 8 ½ minutes.
State Senator Daniel Squadron said those improvements should lessen claustrophobia on the line. "That means that you're going to spread out that sardine can crush. It'll still be standing room only but it'll at least get us below over-capacity."
The NY MTA said the added service will cost $1.7 million annually.