L Train

Transportation Nation

L Train Riders: Help Is on the Way

Friday, April 24, 2015

Last year, every single station along the L line in Brooklyn saw an increase in ridership. Now, according to the MTA, a significant boost in service is coming later this year.
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Transportation Nation

Life is About to Get a Little Better for L Train Riders

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The MTA plans to add dozens of train trips to the L and M subway lines this fall, primarily because of explosive growth in the parts of North Brooklyn served by the lines.

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Transportation Nation

VIDEO: How To Drain and Repair a Flooded Subway Tunnel

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Hurricane Sandy flooded all eight under-river subway tunnels in New York (nine if you count the G train, which runs under the Newtown Creek). The last one to have been pumped dry is the L train's 14th Street tunnel, which runs under the East River between Manhattan and Queens and cuts through the population-accreting neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick, Brooklyn.

The MTA has said restoring L service is its highest priority. On Wednesday, it released a video of workers repairing tracks and signals. Watch it below.

Earlier this week, MTA chairman Joe Lhota described for WNYC the process of restoring service on flooded lines. Workers, he said, are “cleaning [signals] by hand, literally. First you had to pump out the water, then you had to wipe down the mud that was left down there, then you had to literally wipe down the rail, and then fix each and every one of the switches by cleaning them and making sure there was no salt to prevent the electric conductivity.”

You can listen to that interview here.

The L train tunnel on the afternoon of Monday, November 5. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

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Transportation Nation

(LISTEN) MTA Head Joe Lhota: How We Fixed the Flooded Subway

Monday, November 05, 2012

MTA chairman Joe Lhota (L) speaking with an MTA worker. (Photo by MTA via flickr)

Listen to the conversation with WNYC's Amy Eddings below.

(New York, NY) Just one week after Hurricane Sandy turned New York City's subway tunnels into something out of Waterworld, service is back up and running on almost every line. But how?

MTA chairman Joe Lhota told WNYC the credit belonged to the agency's employees. "The workers of the Transit Authority...I will tell you I've never seen a bunch of people work so hard to get the system back up and running."

And here's how they did it: "They've been cleaning [signals] by hand, literally," he said. "First you had to pump out the water, then you had to wipe down the mud that was left down there, then you had to literally wipe down the rail, and then fix each and every one of the switches by cleaning them and making sure there was no salt to prevent the electric conductivity."

Lhota said after that process, the MTA then powered up the system and ran test trains before resuming service.

"We're making progress every day," he said, adding that the rest of the lines would be operating "soon."

"That's our intent, to be able to...get the L later in the week, get the G later in the week, getting all the other trains later in the week. We want to get the #1 train eventually down to Rector Street, we'll try to do that by the middle of the week...inch by inch, rail by rail, we're going to get there," he said on WNYC radio.

Later in the conversation Lhota told WNYC's Amy Eddings -- who relies on the G train to get to work: "You'll get the G soon. Can't tell you exactly when, but you'll get the G real soon."

What probably will take a little longer: retooling New York city's infrastructure to withstand future floods. "There are some more substantive things that need to be done," said Lhota, and "not just for the subway should be a concerted effort on the part of the city and the state and taking the best minds in the architectural world and the water mitigation world and figure out what exactly can we do to prevent this from happening again?"

Any effort to prevent flooding, he said, "It's not just going to be limited to the subways. It shouldn't be."

Want to know what's running and what's not? Check our Transit Tracker.


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Transportation Nation

NY MTA Upping Service On L Train To Reduce "Sardine Crush" Of Riders

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's not uncommon for riders during the morning rush to let an overcrowded L train go on without them. (Runs With Scirssors/flickr)

(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.

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Transportation Nation

NY MTA & Transit Union Blame Each Other For Delay In New Subway Service

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Some L trains during rush hour are too crowded to board. (Photo by Runs With Scirssors.)

(New York, NY - WNYC) UPDATED. It's going to take eight months for the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority to add extra weekend service to the crowded L train, which serves Lower Manhattan and fast-growing parts of Brooklyn. The NY MTA and a major transit union are blaming each other for the delay.

MTA spokesman Charles Seaton said it's a complex operation to revise a subway line's schedule and then allow the union the time it needs, by contract, to pick which workers will crew the new trains.

An email he sent describing the process had at least six steps. They included time for the union to"review and comment on the timetables and work program" and time for the authority to "make modifications agreed to with" the union. And that's only two of the steps.

Seaton said a schedule change like the one proposed for the L train can take up to ten months to implement.

Not necessarily, said Jim Gannon, a spokesman for the Transit Workers Union Local 100. He contended the MTA could add weekend trains on the L line right away by declaring it "supplemental service," as it does for major events like the World Series. Workers-on-call could then crew the trains until the formal process is completed and the schedule change made permanent.

The issue is pressing because over the past twelve years, weekend ridership on the L train has grown at three times the rate of the subway system as a whole, making it the fastest growing subway line. That's according to a new MTA study of the L line requested by State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, a Democrat representing parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

"I'm glad the MTA heeded my call to increase weekend service on the L," Squadron said in an email. "Of course, weekend service should be improved as quickly as possible. If there's a way to make it happen earlier within the MTA's budget constraints, then let's make it happen."

A staff member for an elected representative said the MTA called adding L train service outside the formal scheduling process "cost prohibitive." The MTA did not immediately return calls about the the union's call for supplemental service.

Gannon said the burden is on the MTA to provide a timely improvement. "If they wanted to add service on the L line, they could do it," he said. "They’re just being methodical. It seems like they’re pushing the burden of why this takes so long on us."

The Transport Workers Union contract expires in January.  The union has had a deteriorating relationship with MTA leadership over the years.

UPDATE: MTA spokesman Charles Seaton emailed with a new reason for why increased weekend L train service can't occur until June 2012. He said the authority plans to spend the first half of next year removing old track-side signals as part of an automated upgrade of the line's signal system, work that needs to happen on the weekends, when trains run less often.

"Remember, the Canarsie Line [L train] is only a two-track railroad," he writes. "We would not want to promise an increase in weekend service and then have to cut service back every weekend while the removals take place."

That means status quo service for L train riders on the weekend until next summer. More riders take the L on Saturday between 1 and 3 p.m. and after 8 p.m. than do during the week at those same times. Late afternoon on Saturday is also when the Brooklyn-bound L sometimes carries up to 35 percent more passengers than the prescribed maximum load, according to the MTA's report. If you must travel to Bushwick at that time for the latest cryptic public art happening, prepare to be squeezed.


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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Car, Truck Sales Up; Perry Dogged by Trans-Texas Corridor

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Transit ridership is up in 2011. (Link)

FAA workers will get back pay for this summer's shutdown. (Link)

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Following Transportation Nation story, Politico says, yeah, Rick Perry's campaign could be sidetracked by the Trans-Texas Corridor. (Politico).

Car sales soared for GM and Chrysler...(Los Angeles Times)

...and Hyundai's benefiting from an ad campaign that plays into people's worries about the economy. (NPR)

AND sales of trucks and SUVs are up. (AP via

Meanwhile: Ford, UAW reach tentative agreement. (Detroit Free Press)

Some Chinese are questioning whether infrastructure growth is worth a tradeoff for safety. (Marketplace)

NY's MTA said it will increase service on the L train after one politician said it has not kept pace with the line’s “meteoric” increase in ridership. (DNA Info)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel held an 'aviation summit.' (Chicago Sun Times)

Chicago bicyclists can now be ticketed for biking while texting or talking on cell phones. (Chicago Sun Times)

Lobbyists for the Trans-Canada pipeline and staffers from the State Department appeared to have a cozy email relationship. (NY Times)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: All Aboard The European Road Train, A Possible Stay of Execution for LI Bus, and Santa Rides Chicago's L Train

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock ponders: is the federal transit benefit good transportation policy?

Port Authority looks to recommit ARC money, dusts off repair wish list. (Wall Street Journal)

"Road Trains" --known as the European Union’s Safe Road Trains for the Environment (or EU SARTRE--you can't make this stuff up)-- move closer to reality in Europe. (Wired)

Traffic fatalities are down in DC. But: "Just because there are fewer deaths doesn't meant that there are fewer accidents and injuries. Further, the fatalities MPD reports are just pedestrians, they don't take bicyclists into account." (DCist)

The Virginia Department of Transportation has wrapped up the installation of 70 mph speed limit signs on various rural sections of interstate. (Land Line Magazine)

If your NYC Metrocard is damaged or expired, chances are a token booth clerk can't help. (NY Daily News)

Bike lane editorials in the New York Daily News: First, Transportation Alternative's Paul Steely White sings their praises, but the editorial board wants Janette Sadik-Khan to prove the lanes' worth.

In Lyon, cyclists travel faster than cars during rush hour. And, interestingly, they ride faster on Wednesdays than the rest of the week. (Alt Transport)

Will the Long Island Bus be saved? New York's MTA has told Nassau County that it will conditionally keep operating the Long Island Bus through next year even if Nassau can't immediately fulfill its obligation to fund the system. (Newsday)

In Chicago, Santa rides the L train. "Santa and his reindeer can be found on a flat car in the middle." (Chicago Tribune)


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