Maloney and Local Officials call for additional service to address L Train shut down and celebrate community success in getting new shuttle bus to 14th Street

Sep 17, 2018
Press Release
L Train project clears major hurdle with FTA declaration of "No Significant Impact"

NEW YORK—Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, and members of the community to call for additional service to address community needs during the L Train shut down starting April 2019.  Residents are concerned that the MTA is making it too difficult for Brooklyn residents to access ferry service and offering too little ferry service.  But just today, Maloney’s office received news that the MTA is working with the contractor and hopes to expand ferry service – increasing the capacity of boats from 149 passengers to 240 passengers and having three boats running instead of two.


"In Manhattan, the MTA is offering shuttle bus service to the ferry. But in Brooklyn, residents are being told to walk," said Congresswoman Maloney. "The current mitigation plan calls for just 8 trips carrying 1,200 people an hour and no Brooklyn shuttle buses to those ferries. This isn’t enough to meet the need or the demand. That is why we are calling on the MTA to add shuttle bus service to the ferries in Brooklyn and to consider expanding the number of ferries during rush hour.  And we are delighted that the MTA has heard our concerns about capacity – now we need the shuttle bus to the ferry.”


In the past, the MTA has been responsive to Brooklyn community concerns about the L Train mitigation plan, adding the L-4 shuttle bus to accommodate Northside L Train passengers whose destination is 14th Street. After hearing from constituents who were concerned that the MTA was not offering a shuttle bus from Bedford Avenue to 14th Street, Congresswoman Maloney wrote letters, called, and testified before the MTA advocating for this new line route. The MTA eventually revised its original mitigation plan to include the additional shuttle route (L-4). This 24 hour service will save North Brooklyn residents 20 minutes or more of commuting time by avoiding an additional subway transfer.


Community leaders also noted that the L Train project had passed a major hurdle last week when the  Federal Transit Administration (FTA) completed its environmental review and issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact.” The project could not have been started until this milestone was achieved.  


“Brooklynites who live and work along the L line need to be able to commute with confidence amid the shutdown, with the knowledge that this city will keep moving and support their transit needs. I thank Representative Maloney and my fellow members of the L Train Coalition for sounding the alarm for the additional service needed to address our community’s transportation needs. I appreciate the MTA’s responsiveness in adding the L-4 shuttle bus to support commuters in Williamsburg, as well as the L-5 shuttle bus for residents of Canarsie and surrounding communities. We must go further and boost ferry service during the shutdown, including routes to southern Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

“The L train tunnel closure will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to get where they need to go every day,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. “The residents and small businesses of North Brooklyn will especially feel the impact of this massive construction project, so it's good news that the plan now includes an additional bus line to serve this community. Through continuous engagement with MTA and DOT, we have achieved some real progress, but we must continue to work toward maximizing the range of transit options available, ensuring there are ways to get around at all hours, 7 days a week, not just during rush hour, and minimizing air pollution and other harmful effects on our communities. I thank Congresswoman Maloney for her tireless advocacy to make the best of a difficult situation.”




During Superstorm Sandy, the L Train's Canarsie tunnel was flooded with 7 million gallons of salt water, causing massive corrosion and destruction to the tunnel's infrastructure. The MTA plans to close the tunnel for 15 months to make repairs, from April 2019 to Summer 2020. The project calls for the L Train to continue to make all Brooklyn stops, but Bedford Avenue will become the terminus of the subway line. No trains will run between Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn and 8th Avenue in Manhattan. Four hundred thousand commuters currently use the L Train each day, including 225,000 who are transported across the East River using the Canarsie Tunnel. Fifty thousand passengers use the L Train to commute just within Manhattan. The MTA's mitigation plan must enable all of these commuters to reach their destinations. Most will transfer to other subway lines, but many will take advantage of new shuttle bus lines, ferry service, or bicycle stands. Seven hundred million dollars of the project cost is being paid by the federal government.


The original MTA plan proposed three new shuttle bus lines: two shuttle buses would leave from Grand Avenue - one going to Soho and the other to 14th Street. The third would go from Bedford Avenue to Soho.  In response to community concerns, the MTA added a fourth shuttle bus between Bedford Avenue and 14th Street. Additional shuttle buses will run along 14th Street in Manhattan, including a stop at the 20th Street pier where commuters can access the ferry to Brooklyn. No shuttle bus takes passengers to the ferry in Brooklyn. The MTA is dedicating 200 buses to the L Train project, approximately 80-90 of which will go between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Fifteen of the MTA's expected 60 All-Electric Buses will be used on the Manhattan river-to-river shuttle service.


Working with NYC Economic Development Corporation, the MTA currently plans to lease three ferries, which accommodate at least 149 passengers each. They plan to operate 8 ferry trips per hour at peak, accommodating roughly 1200 passengers.  The MTA is now working with the contractor to use higher capacity boats accommodating 240 passengers, which will significantly increase the number of people who can use ferries to more than 1900 per hour.  The trip is expected to take 5.5 minutes from pier to pier.  Without the ferry service, Northside residents would face the longest added travel time, as much as 40 extra minutes each way. Ferries will run 6 am to midnight on weekdays, 6am to 2 am on weekends.  The MTA has promised the community that ferries will be integrated into its system and that there will be free transfers onto the ferries and onto shuttle buses. The ferry landing is nearly half a mile from the Bedford Avenue L Train station.


The L Train has become one of the most popular subway lines in New York City, with a 236% increase in ridership since 1990. It is the tenth largest subway system in the entire country, just behind the entire BART line in San Francisco. Closing a subway system of this size and scale has never been done before, which is why it is so important to get the mitigation plan right.


The MTA expects 70-80% of riders to use alternate subway service, 5-15% of riders to use shuttle buses, 5% to use ferries and 2% to use bicycles. Between 3 and 10% may transfer to cars, taxis or ride-sharing alternatives.


The 94-year-old Canarsie tunnel is 1.4 miles long, made of cast iron and concrete. The project involves demolition and reconstruction of approximately 60,000 linear feet of duct banks; 14,400 linear feet of track and track bed; 270,000 linear feet of cable ducts and associated cables; repair of 7,000 linear feet of concrete lining, and the installation of tunnel lighting and fire systems. In addition, the MTA will add elevators to make more stations ADA accessible, and will add resiliency so that future flooding can be avoided.